Our journey continues, this week two flavours from Shinshu (a place that technically doesn’t exist) and one from a place I’ve never heard of.
This is one of the flavours in the box I’ve unfortunately reviewed before. Last time I said;
“Real chocolate (hooray) and a really powerful apple odour from the second the packet is opened. Actually a really, really nice apple odour. So apple-ey that it goes right past apple and settles somewhere near apple flavoured chewing gum i.e. concentrated apple smell. More apple-ey than an apple.
The taste is much less strong than the smell but still pretty strong. The apple kills all the chocolate notes stone dead. The only thing you can taste here is apple. Although the chocolate does come through in the aftertaste.
And all in all it’s pretty good. Not too sweet, nice and rich, plenty complex and definitely apple-ey. Solid.”
I also really praised the packaging particularly the picnic blanket pattern of the red and how it evoked images of wholesomeness and the outdoors. I did however criticise the naff painting of the mountains since it nowhere near captures the majesty of the Japan Alps.
So of course they decided to ruin the packaging completely by taking away the picnic blanket and just going with the mountain scene. *sigh*. This is an overcrowded mess alright, not only do we have the mandatory too large logo which covers up the bloody painting in the first place we have a red stripe down the side, a gold stripe along the bottom, pictures of apples (because nobody knows what an apple looks like) and a little stamp saying it’s made in Shinshu, which again, we know because the writing says Shinshu apples in English and Japanese.
Well if the packets have gone downhill what about the chocolate?
Oh wow, I take it back about the pear. This is the strongest smelling Kit-Kat by a country mile. That apple scent hits you like a fist. It fills the room. It’s like someone baking apple pie, except very, very artificial. Which makes the picture of an apple even more redundant, if you open this and don’t immediately realise it’s apple then I’m sorry to inform you that you appear to have lost your sense of smell.
My initial assessment is still pretty accurate; all you taste to start with is apple, then some chocolate flavour towards the end and finally an after taste of apples. I did find the after taste to be more unpleasantly chemical this time around but this is still a very nice tasting chocolate bar. Also praise be to real chocolate, it’s not waxy, it’s not soapy it’s rich and delicious and the richness helps the other flavours and adds complexity
Shinshu Hot Japanese Chilli Flavour
Another example of the English lying to you guys. These may be chillies, they may be from Japan but they sure as heck ain’t hot.
I also reviewed these previously and mentioned I thought the packaging looks naff. Mostly because the drawing of the pepper looks naff, and the kanji look out of proportion to the chilli drawing. They haven’t fixed either of hose problems but they did fix the slightly naff gradient fade by just making it solid red and gold bars. So still a naff packet but marginally less so.
My review last time can be boiled down to one sentence. It tastes of dark chocolate with a very, infinitesimally small spice to the after taste.
This is a shame because I like combinations of chilli and chocolate, the heat and the richness make for a very pleasant oral experience. But maybe they’ve improved the formulation over the years, let’s see.
Once again the chocolate is very dark, indeed almost black. It smells and looks just like a rich dark chocolate and tastes just like a rich dark chocolate.
This time I can taste the chilli spice when I first bite into it but mostly I can taste the dark bitter chocolate. There is also an initial burst of sweetness that gradually moves into a really rich and bitter chocolate flavour.
And then the chilli comes through and honestly I did not give this credit before, it really does have a nice chilli kick to it. It’s spicy and refreshing. Indeed it might have too much chilli kick to it now as the after taste is pure pepper. It also kicks in much too quickly so you don’t have a huge amount of time to enjoy the nice dark chocolate.
This chocolate bar is like unto a flame, it burns brightly and strongly then disappears quickly leaving only ash. Except in that metaphor the actual chocolate is the fire, not the chilli heat. Which probably makes it a confusing metaphor. Look it’s a Kit-Kat guys, don’t expect Keats.
In summary the balance of chilli and chocolate still isn’t quite there.
Not a bad effort though.
Tokai and Hokuriku Red Bean Sandwich
Well this is the first time I’ve had to look up the location just to see where it is. Turns out it’s along the Sea of Japan coast in the middle of the main island and it has the highest snowfall of any arable inhabited region in the world. Thanks Wikipedia. Also it is defended by teams of giant robots. Or at least it does not because I edited it. Thanks Wikipedia.
Red Bean Paste or Azuki is probably the most common basis for sweets in Japan. Since sugar is not a native and nor are European honey bees Azuki was the traditional sweet flavouring for thousands of years. Azuki beans are similar to kidney beans in appearance and texture but are incredibly sweet, much sweeter than sweet corn or similar sweetening substances and Japan has a huge variety of traditional treats based on the beans. Dorayaki is one of them, a sandwich of dough filled with the sweet paste. They’re the favourite snack of this guy.
This is Doraemon and if you don’t know the name chances are you’ve still seen him before if you have any interest in Japanese culture. He’s a robot cat from the future. And yes, I know, he doesn’t look anything like a cat or a robot, I’ve had this argument with Japanese people and it just gets surreal.
“But he doesn’t have cat ears?”
“Oh a mouse chewed them off”
“And he’s blue?”
“Yes, he cried himself that colour when he lost his ears”
If it wasn’t for the internet (thanks Wikipedia) I’d assume they were just fucking with me but apparently he is a robot cat, with a pouch he can pull items from, because cat’s have pouches now apparently.
Anyway, Dorayaki, it’s sweet, it’s cakey, robot future cats love it. How is the Kit-Kat?
Well the wrapper is…better than the others I’ve looked at today. Firstly I like the colour balance better, maroon and yellow isn’t a common colour combo but yellow and purple is and any artist can tell you yellow and purple pop against each other, hence so does this wrapper. However the shades chosen are slightly subdued and so whilst this does pop it also has an air of sophistication, even an old fashioned air. Also rather than having equal colours at the side and a big chunk in the middle the Dorayaki is actually slightly off centre and to the right. It’s a small touch but it’s a lot more visually appealing than the dead centre symmetrical designs of the other wrappers.
Praise be to Allah, milk chocolate! Maybe we’ll have a good one.
The problem with making something Azuki flavour is the main flavour of Azuki is sweet, unbelievably sweet. There is a certain bean quality to it (think kidney beans) but mostly it’s more of an ingredient than a flavour. This Kit-Kat is really strongly flavoured but I wouldn’t have recognised it as Azuki. It mostly tastes of burnt toast.
And yet there is an Azuki aspect there. Mostly in the aftertaste. Actually the aftertaste is an astonishing recreation of the after taste of Azuki, complete with the slightly dried out mouth you get when you eat it. I can almost feel the slightly hard skins that get left in your mouth when you eat an Azuki or a kidney bean.one’s mouth.
I do like this, I like it a lot actually but it’s hard to say why. It’s really sweet, the main flavour is burnt and the aftertaste is not nice at all. It must have something to do with the taste that hits you after the burnt and before the finish. For a split second there’s a nice balance of nuttiness, sweetness and a richness I can only describe as like a kidney bean. It’s kind of worth eating just for that moment, but then the aftertaste kicks in and ruins everything. Although it is a very exact recreation of what an Azuki aftertaste is it has the problem that the aftertaste of Azuki is crappy. Fortunately tea or coffee teams nicely with it, especially a strong unsweetened coffee as this flavour is plenty sweet, believe me.