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Cool and wacky candy from Japan

Japanese Candy Review: Hi-Chew American Cherry, Melon, Lemon

Categories: Candy,Candy Reviews,Foreign (non-US) Candy

American Cherry Hi-Chew

For a while it looked like you’d never see another non-chocolate candy review from me. I discovered that my local Japanese markets are now carrying the Mango flavor Hi-Chew that I reviewed so enthusiastically a while ago. I bought a large quantity and felt that now, my life was complete. Well, as far as non-chocolate candy goes, anyway.

But curiosity got the better of me. After all, a package only costs a buck. If the mango is so good, maybe there are other wonders that I don’t want to miss, right?

So I grabbed a Lemon and Melon at the store. And then while ordering something else from J-List, I saw a flavor called “American Cherry” and wondered what the heck that was, and it only took one click to find out, right?

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Japanese Candy Review: Meiji Chocorooms

Categories: Candy,Candy Reviews,Chocolate Candy,Foreign (non-US) Candy,Novelty Candy

Meiji Chocorooms

Chocorooms do not contain mushrooms of any kind. Let’s be clear about that. Not Red Belted Polypore, not Queen Boleti, not Morel. No mushrooms at all. Instead, these are “sweet and crispy” Japanese candies that happen to look like rather small mushrooms. They have cookie-like stems, with chocolate tops.

Okay, so what do these fake fungi taste like? Let’s start at the bottom. The stems are not tasty in the least. They’re very bland, like a really boring biscuit. They remind me of fortune cookies a little bit, too. They also leave a slight film in your mouth.

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Japanese Candy Review: Crunky Sea Salt Vanilla White Chocolate

Categories: Candy,Candy Reviews,Chocolate Candy,Foreign (non-US) Candy,Oddly-Named Candy

White Crunky

I grabbed this box without looking too closely when I saw it at my local Japanese market. As you might gather from my last Crunky review, I was hoping to use it as part of my continuing quest to convince English-speakers to love Crunky instead of just making fun of its name.

However, I wasn’t sure this plan would work, because I assumed that what I had was white chocolate. Now, I love almost everything Japanese and I love white chocolate. But with the exception of Crunky, I usually find Japanese chocolate to be not of the highest quality. And white chocolate, with such a mild flavor, has nothing to hide behind – if it’s not of the best quality, it’s horrid.

But when I got home and looked more closely, the plot began to thicken. I wondered why the box had an illustration of a bowl of ice cream on it. The text next to the picture was something that I could only interpret as “Kanji Kanji Kanji Vanilla” (kanji being the Japanese version of Chinese characters, of which I can only read a couple dozen, none of which were included here).

On the back, the pasted-on English label only deepened the mystery at first: “Okinawa Shiovanil.” And this time the problem was not one of language, exactly. I know that “shio” means “salt.” But salt-vanilla? Salt-vanilla ice cream?

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Candy Review: Strawberry Cheesecake and Mango Hi-chew

Categories: Candy,Candy Reviews,Foreign (non-US) Candy

Cheesecake and Mango Hi-chew

Today I admit that I have learned an important lesson: Weird is not always better.

When our friends at J-List offered me my first chance to try the intriguing Japanese candy Hi-chew, I figured, why not go for the most exotic? So custard pudding flavor and Strawberry Cheesecake seemed like the obvious candidates. I mean, when have you looked at a display of American candy and seen something in cheesecake flavor? Never. There you go.

As you can read in my previous review, the custard pudding flavor was fun and interesting. But I felt fine giving the rest of the package away. And the strawberry cheesecake….

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Japanese Candy Review: Choco Zutsumi

Categories: Candy,Candy Reviews,Chocolate Candy,Foreign (non-US) Candy

choco zutsumi

I love the way Japanese sweets combine the best of Western and Japanese cuisine. A Western dessert like ice cream with a Japanese flavor like green tea (or, be still my heart, black sesame) is one of the glories of world cultural interaction. And even something like a green tea Kit Kat is fun, if not the pinnacle of gourmet cuisine.

You can also do the combination the other way round – a traditional Japanese dessert made with a Western flavor – and that’s what we have here: Japanese mochi filled with Western chocolate ganache.

There’s probably no more traditional Japanese sweet than mochi, which is basically a filled dumpling with a sweet rice dough. You have to love a culture that’s developed a dumpling for dessert, but the problem for me is that the filling is usually red bean. And no matter how hard I try, I have been unable to develop a fondness for red bean.

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