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Monthly Archives: May 2013

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Hello Kit-Kat fans. Hmmm, we really need a name for Kit-Kat fans don’t we, like Trekker. Kit-Katatonics? Kit-Kategorically insane? Kit-Katastrophically poor social skills? I’ll work on it.

Anyway Kat lovers (Katchers? Oooh  like that one, Kit-Katchers.) today marks what is probably going to be my last Kit-Kat review for some time. My supply of Japanese stock has drastically declined and I’m too poor to import more at the moment. Yes, I know, you’re shocked. You figured I’d be rolling in kickbacks from big chocolate by now, but alas no. Shockingly Nestle have not seen fit to pay me for my efforts. Probably has something to do with how I compared one of their products to shit the other week. So unless Nestle U.K. starts cranking out new flavours or somebody donates me some this is my stash entirely depleted.

Also today is a weird one. Having just done so many weeks of new flavours this week is more about shape and format changes than anything else. So without further ado let’s dig into.

Caramel Pudding Flavour Kit-Kat Bites

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Kit-Kat Bites are a variant of Kit-Kat I have not discussed before on this blog but I have come across them ‘in the wild’ as it were. They consist of a series of wafers and chocolate crème, just like a Kit-Kat, but wrapped up in a chocolate ball rather than as a bar. I haven’t reviewed them before because, well, to me they aren’t Kit-Kats. My love of Kit-Kats lies in how the Japanese have taken something so British and radically changed it for their own palate and their own culture. But it still has to fundamentally be a Kit-Kat. Wafer, crème, chocolate, two bars and you can break the bars in two. To me these aren’t Kit-Kats but another creation entirely. But, a friend got me them and it would be very rude not to review them.

So this review is going to be discussing the concept of a Kit-Kat bite itself and also this particular flavour, caramel pudding. Hopefully this doesn’t taste too much like pudding because I’m really not a fan. Custard, quiche, flan, all those various egg based treats I find have a horrible texture to them. I have no issue with scrambled eggs weirdly but custard just puts me right off. Caramel, on the other hand, is one of my favourite flavours so I’m hoping this is a lot more caramel than pudding.

The packet is baffling. Most of it seems to make some kind of sense. We have the logo, fine, it’s still too big and it still doesn’t need the red border but okay you have to have the logo, I get it. We have a picture of some caramel pudding, again, fine. We have multiple pictures of the bites themselves, again, this is fine and I appreciate that we get multiple images since it sells the idea you’re getting a bag full of bites. The only kind of nod towards cleverness is the web of caramel, which is okay but spoiled a little by the solid white background. Not exactly the most interesting colour.

Those are all expected Kit-Kat elements. What I cannot comprehend is the massive logo in the bottom which says “Big” in English and “ritoru” (little) in Japanese. Well not really Japanese, katakana symbols but for an English word. The Japanese use katakana to represent words borrowed from other languages. For example caramel pudding has no translation into Japanese so they say “kyarameru purin” and spell it using katakana letters. That’s all fine and dandy, but big (okii) and little (chisai) have words in Japanese, why say big little? And why is half in roman letters and the other half in katakana? And why say big little at all? What does it mean? I mean it’s the second largest design element after the logo. Hell, they even have it written around the edge of the wrapper. I have frankly no idea what it could mean at all. Does it mean the bites are a mix of big and little? No, because I opened it and they all seem to be of uniform size. Maybe this is a big packet of little bites? Well, maybe but it’s the same size as all the other Kit-Kat bite packets. My best guess is that they’ve renamed the entire brand from Kit-Kat bites to Kit-Kat Big Little but I’d have to see other packets to confirm this. If you know the answer to this mystery please tell me because I am frankly baffled.

So that’s enough confusion, how do they taste?

Firstly I have to tell you about the smell, opening this packet unleashed one of the nicest smells in the world. It smells like cinema popcorn freshly popped with toffee applied. Or a fudge shop. Basically it smells of hot caramel and that earthy, nutty yet sweet aroma happens to be one of my favourites. It’s also not something even caramel sweets usually smell of, let alone caramel flavoured chocolate. It also doesn’t smell of egg which is a good sign.

The Bites themselves aren’t really balls but more like misshapen cubes with the corners filed down. The balance of chocolate to wafer is waaaaay off for a Kit-Kat. Or anything really. Wafer is flavourless crunch, you need it for texture, nothing more. With a regular Kit-Kat you get a nice big slab of chocolate on top but with these the chocolate evenly coats the wafer thus you get much less chocolate to wafer in each bite. As such the first thing you taste is likely to be bland, inoffensive wafer. The chocolate only comes through as you chew it.

I will say this, the chocolate does seem to be slightly better than regular nestle chocolate. It may still have the gritty problem most nestle chocolate does but it’s hard to say since the wafer gets everywhere. It’s actually a bit like the chocolate on a milk dud.

The caramel pudding flavour is quite hard to pick up on really. It’s definitely in there, particularly in the aftertaste but the quantity of wafer deadens it. I wouldn’t call this pudding. You get caramel, yes, but nothing pudding like at all. Mostly what you taste is wafer, then regular chocolate, then caramel and then an after taste which is bitter and frankly a bit sickly at the same time. There are so many Kit-Kat flavours that taste of caramel, like the sweet potato flavours for example, but the flavours called caramel mostly taste of sickly sweet nothing. These are pretty horrible actually and as I continue to eat them they’re making me feel a bit ill. A shame because they smell so promising but mostly they’re just gross.

70% Cocoa Solids

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A British flavour and one with a few stories behind it.

Britain as a country is increasingly becoming more and more obsessed with food, where it comes from, how it’s made and that it’s delicious. Despite the jokes about British cooking being terrible we’re 8th in the world for Michelin stars as a nation with London being 6th in the world as the city with the most (surprising nobody Japan and Tokyo are number one in each category, they really love their food over there). Most of those jokes really come from American G.I.s in World War Two stationed in the U.K. and eating our food, neglecting to realise that whilst America’s food supply was largely unaffected by the war Britons were rationed and had to make do with things like powdered egg. Have you ever eaten powdered egg? It’s shit. There’s no getting around it, it’s fucking disgusting. But they knew it was disgusting back then too. We didn’t eat it because we liked it or because we didn’t know better. We ate it because there was no alternative.

But a generation of kids grew up learning to cook in the war and their legacy ruined British cuisine for a good 20 – 30 years; really only starting to recover in the late 70’s. Flash forward to now and cookery programmes are almost as ubiquitous on British T.V. as they are in Japan.*

Consequently we’ve all learned that we’re supposed to find out the percentage of cocoa solids in our chocolates and that some chocolate bars can have as little as 15%. I’m not sure what the ideal is but I’ve had a 92% cocoa chocolate bar once and that was fowl. I think you’re supposed to aim for 70 to 80 percent. And so preying on vague understandings gleaned from the television we have 70% cocoa solids Kit-Kat.

This is also a bar where a higher proportion of the proceeds goes to the cocoa plan. You can find out more about the cocoa plan here.

Basically it’s a project run by Nestle, in conjunction with Fair Trade, to invest in cocoa growing nations such as The Ivory Coast by buildings schools, investing in new agricultural equipment and supporting farmers with new disease resistant cocoa crops. I haven’t been able to find out much about it but I’m slightly dubious. Nestle does not have a good reputation for ethical treatment of Africans, particularly in the realm of freebies. For those who don’t know the most egregious scandal Nestle was involved in was giving free samples of formula milk to mothers in Africa and promoting it heavily as a better alternative to breast milk. Said free samples were worked out to last just long enough for the mother’s own milk to dry up. At which point the freebies were cut off forcing poor African mother’s to buy milk they struggled to afford. It’s a similar tactic to drug dealers and just a monstrous strategy all round exploiting some of the world’s poorest and neediest people. If you want to know more there is a wealth of information out there and I’m not the man to get it from. My understanding though is that this practise has ceased now. I’m slightly dubious about giving farmer’s disease resistant crops since it sounds like a similar scam to what Monsanto has done with disease resistant corn but I have no evidence to back up that feeling at all and what information I could find out about the cocoa plan has seemed broadly positive.

It’s also part of Fair Trade now, as are all standard Kit-Kats. Fair Trade isn’t quite the angel it makes itself out to be either but it’s still better to buy Fair than to not.

So, possibly dubious but well meaning politics aside how is it?

The wrapper is a standard Kit-Kat wrapper but shinier (oooh, shiny) with a swirl of dark brown and highlights in gold. The colour choice and simplicity really sell that this is a sophisticated, adult product. I love the simplicity of British Kit-Kats. When you compare it to the utter mess of Japanese designs it’s striking how much better the use of a few elements is. It really makes it stand out on a shelf and makes it much more aesthetically appealing and cohesive.

The chocolate is surprisingly dark, almost black. This is darker than most dark chocolate I’ve eaten and has that distinctive cocoa smell to boot.

I like dark chocolate, I like the richness, I like the complexity of the taste mixing bitter notes with sweet ones and even tangy ones. This is good dark chocolate. It could stand to be a little sweeter for my palate but you can’t fault this at all. This is definitely an adult Kit-Kat and a Kit-Kat for chocolate purists. It’s tough to eat a four bar serving though. The richness and bitterness is very powerful and makes it hard to eat more than one bar at once.

Sometimes simple changes are the best. Take a Kit-kat but give it better chocolate, and you get a Kit-Kat with better chocolate, and what’s not to like about that.

*This is a huge exaggeration. Nobody will ever come close to matching the proliferation of food on Japanese T.V. Formats and ideas that have nothing to do with food will just stop and eat some food frequently. I’ve seen episodes of anime stop to give me a recipe for making curry. In fact I watched a programme starring SMAP** once. SMAP are a boy band and so most of the programme was them singing, which you’d expect. Then they interviewed Harisson Ford about Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull which is outside the normal boy band purview but is still within the realms of sanity. Then they cooked him dinner?! In fact here is a video.

Harrison Ford and Smap Part 2 by smokyo

Marvel at Ford’s utter confusion as to what is going on. He does like the soup though

. I’d love this! I’d love to watch a show where every week the Spice Girls make a celebrity his tea. You can call it “Cooking with Spice.” It would be a mega hit. I’m right here Channel 4, I’m not doing anything right now, call me. Let’ make it happen.

**On another tangent one of the guys from SMAP once got arrested for being drunk and naked in a public park early in the morning. When arrested he reportedly told the police “what’s wrong with being naked?” This is, and always will be, my favourite thing about SMAP and the most interesting thing I know about any Japanese singer.

5 Finger Kit-Kat

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Five Finger Kit-Kat

FIVE! FINGER! KIT! KAT!

I

I don’t even

FIVE FINGER KIT-KAT!!!!!!!

Japan gets fucking lemon vinegar. That’s based on a drink people outside Japan don’t even know is a drink. Australia gets honeycomb flavours. We get the same original style, but with an extra finger.

This, this is supposed to be innovation right here. This is British ingenuity. This is possibly a symbol of everything wrong with this country.

Five, finger Kit-Kat.

What can I say? What can I possibly say? This has utterly defeated me. My niche on the internet is applying thought and care to something ephemeral, this should be right up my alley. But what can I say? It’s the same but more? That’s all it is, the same but more.

Five, finger, kit, kat.

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The wrapper has a yellow streak on it. That…that’s something.

*sob*

A five finger Kit-Kat.

Why five fingers, why make more? Don’t they know this country is struggling with obesity? Do we need more chocolate? Were people crying out for this? Were people honestly looking at the four finger version and thinking; “I like that, but it just doesn’t fill me up?” No, no, nobody was thinking that.

A five finger Kit-Kat.

I almost admire the chutzpah. I almost admired the testicular fortitude this required. To put this out there takes balls of epic proportions. Balls that are exactly like regular balls, but bigger. Almost like a Kit-Kat that’s, exactly like a regular Kit-Kat….but bigger.

A five finger Kit-Kat.

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To look at the inventiveness from Japan and the interest that sparks on the internet and then to turn around and do this. It’s a failure of imagination of epic proportions.

I imagine men, men in suits, men with cigars. Mad men type men talking like this;

“Right guys, we need to come up with a genius idea, something that will capture imaginations, something that people will love”

“I got it boss!”

“What is it kid?”

“We’ll do a four fingered Kit-Kat….but instead of four fingers.”

“Yeah?”

“Five fingers.”

And then everyone applauds and sends out for more hookers and blow.

A five fingered Kit-Kat.

Wow.

Just, wow.

You know what, this has inspired me. This has inspired me to write a haiku.

Five fingered Kit-Kat,

In your laziness you show,

a strange genius

Well. I guess I’d better eat it.

It tastes like a Kit-Kat. It’s been so long since I’ve eaten a regular Kit-Kat I have actually forgotten what they taste like. They’re nicer than I remember.

Five Fingered Kit-Kat. Like a Kit-Kat, but with one more finger.

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If there is one thing I love in life it’s an epic failure.

That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate good things. I like good films and good comics. But unfortunately I studied English literature, and what that does to you is to implant something in your brain that constantly analyses the media you’re experiencing. I can’t just watch a film anymore. When I watch a film my brain is looking at plot holes, plot structure, themes, cinematography, how this relates to the history of the medium or the genre, what it’s influences are, etc, etc, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t switch that part of my brain off for the world. When something is truly a great piece of media that analysis just improves it. But it also means that a lot of very mediocre stuff goes from; “that’s okay,” to “eurrrgh I hate this,” purely because I can’t shut the Gremlin of analysis in my brain up. My favourite example is probably Prometheus. I saw that film in the cinema and thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked the visuals, I loved the sound and I was having a good time. But as I walked home I started thinking through the plot and coming up with plot hole after plot hole. By the time I got home I hated Prometheus and still do.

It’s precisely because of this that I love so bad it’s good media. I love when everything a creator sets out to do fails dismally, because my analysis Gremlin knows these have all failed but it’s like a great film in reverse. Every thing I can pick apart just makes it funnier and funnier. I cna not only make fun of the plot but the production design, the sound design, the use of stock effects, it’s a fractal of crap.

There’s an element of irony to it, sure, but I am not sarcastic in my love for something like Birdemic or Troll 2 or The Room. I love these things in ways the creators didn’t intend but I love them far more than I love Memento or Star Wars or Citizen Kane.

All of which is a long build up to say I absolutely adore the Eurovision Song Contest which is usually a parade of bat shit insanity and creative failure with so much money, effort and promotion into it that guys like Tommy Wiseau would dream of. I wish Tommy Wiseau was given the option to fail as hard as your average Eurovision contestant.

Sadly this year the acts were disappointingly competent but that doesn’t mean it was entirely without Eurovision’s trademark car crash T.V. joy.

The award for weirdest song of the night easily goes to Romania

You have to give the guy credit for his singing, he is nailing those high notes. That doesn’t stop it sounding horrible though.

Also, nice dress.

But probably the best song in terms of comedic potential and also the most traditionally Eurovision song is Finland’s entry, Marry Me

I agree with Graham Norton here, that is terrifying. It’s something to do with her eyes when she says “I’ll do it for you.” it makes my little Adam shrivel up and run away in case he gets hacked off and boiled.

Also, “I’ll be you slave,” “I’ll change my last name,” Jesus woman it’s 2013 you’re embarrassing all the feminists.

And furthermore, her masked backing dancers. They look like 1966 Batman villains. In fact with her psychotic grin and themed thugs she could easily be a Batman villain, The Bride! Her evil plan is to marry Batman.

Greece had the very real danger that they might win with this catchy folk/punk number.

Fortunately for Greece they didn’t, but it would have been funny to see what would have happened if they’d had to shell out the money for Eurovision.

Not only do I genuinely like the song but it has hilarious lyrics too. If you look up a translation it’s all about getting lost in a boat and not caring because you’re pissed, and at one point the boat has wheels, which is a terrible design for a boat. I suspect it might be a metaphor for something, possibly to do with not caring that your country is utterly fucked, but who knows.

Also, Greece I hate to break it to you but Alcohol isn’t free. It’s surprisingly expensive, especially in Sweden. Is alcohol free in Greece? If so that might go a long way to explaining why their economy is in the toilet.

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Moldova’s haircut bothered me for a while whilst I tried to figure out what it reminded me of. Then I realised, it looks like a prawn.

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Lithuania sang second and seemed to be ignored by most people but I was in love with his wonderfully bizarre metaphor about how he has one shoe named pain and another named love.

Now I know it’s a metaphor but…for what?

The best part about this song coming so early in the night is that it allowed us to assume that every reference to love from then on in referred to this guy’s shoe. Such as this entry from Belgium which is much funnier if you interpret it as “shoes kill.”

Armenia decided to sing a song expressing their appreciation for Lonely Planet guide books.

They repeatedly ask “Who has done it?” Silly Armenians, if you just check the back of the book it tells you.

The Ukraine entry was carried into the studio by a giant ogre of some description.

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Fortunately there was an elf (he’s tried to hide it with the beard but he’s still speaking Elvish) to fight the ogre.

And that’s it for the stray humorous observations. The winner was some dull dance/pop effort like it always is and not really worth talking about. Instead why don’t you watch the best song Eurovision has ever produced.

That’s right, I love Belarus.

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The end is nigh my friends, here we have the last two Kit-Kat flavours from my massive Kit-Kat box. It has been a long strange journey, we’ve had green tea and roast green tea. We’ve had two cheesecakes and some traditional Japanese sweets, We’ve been to a place that technically doesn’t exist and ignored some that do. And now we’re ending it all with some wasabi and some bright purple potatoes. Never let it be said I don’t end with a bang.

Shizukoa Kanto Wasabi

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I have had Wasabi before. I was not best pleased, my reaction was basically, this is unpleasant, no, actually it’s creamy, no wait it’s unpleasant, wait, no, creamy again, no, wait, unpleasant. Not impressed.

I am pleased to find out this comes from Shizuoka prefecture though. Last time I got these I bought them from Tokyo, hence I naturally assumed they were a Tokyo thing but actually they come from Shizuoka, that makes a heck of a lot more sense as Shizukoa is up in the mountains and wasabi roots grow in the mountains. I’m still baffled why the wrapper looks so tropical and Okinawan though. It is an attractive wrapper at least with a strong design that’s aesthetically interesting and a nice colour balance.

The Kat still stinks, and still triggers my desire to vomit before I even eat it. I’m not sure why as the smell isn’t really all that unpleasant in the manner say, a fart or garbage is but it does something to me that triggers my gag reflect straight away. It also doesn’t smell of wasabi.

I think this time around I can taste the wasabi slightly more strongly but it still isn’t very strong and it still lacks the fire and heat. Well not totally, but it isn’t the heat one expects of wasabi. I don’t find it unpleasant though just, bland. Wasabi promises a fiery and unique chocolate experience but it’s mostly just creamy white chocolate. The aftertaste is horrible too, really very bitter. If anything, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, this could stand to be a bit sweeter.

 

Okinawa Beni-Imo 

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This is one most people will probably raise an eyebrow for but that I am very enthusiastic about. Beni-Imo are purple fleshed sweet potatoes and they are amazing! Some people are probably aghast at potato flavoured sweets but the clue is in the sweet part guys, sweet potatoes are sweet and make a great flavour for all sorts of puddings, drinks and ice creams. They also have caramel notes, nutty notes and earthy notes. If you like cinnamon, toffee or butterscotch sweet potato ice-cream will probably suit you quite well.

And purple sweet potatoes even more so. Have you heard of bubble tea? Bubble tea is a milk and tea drink filled with tapioca bubbles that is popular across all of Asia. Here’s a photo for the uninitiated.

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In one shop in Kobe they would make you bubble tea in a multitude of flavours. Everything from apple to strawberry to green tea to banana to sweet potato. I went to this shop fairly early on in my time in Japan and long before I learnt how to read Japanese so I just pointed and guessed at a flavour. I though purple was grape or blueberry and was very surprised when a friend pointed out I had ordered sweet potato. However, I was delighted. Beni-Imo bubble tea was one of the most amazing drinks I had my whole time there and is one of my favourite things in the world, hands down.

Beni-Imo are common to all of Japan but are especially cultivated in Okinawa, a series of small tropical islands hundreds of miles away from the rest of the Japan. Okinawa is pretty much its own place with its own culture, cuisine and even a dialect that is very distinct from normal Japanese. It even has unique ethnic groups not found in the rest of Japan. It’s similar to Hawaii in terms of its cuisine and culture and also in that it is swamped with Japanese tourists every summer. Consequently it is full of people needing to buy Omiyage and nestle have seized upon this ruthlessly.

The packet is fun, the illustration isn’t of a purple sweet potato but rather a Beni-Imo flavoured dessert of some kind which I feel is a bit of a cheat. It is a nice looking dessert though. This is also one example where it has lots of different colours but it works, mostly because the main colour is white. That means the pinks, purples, greens and blues pop more without clashing with something else like they do on the brown sugar wrapper. It’s also redolent of the Okinawan art style and patterns. It’s ultimately just a bright fun wrapper and that kind of fits Okinawa too, a sunny resort kind of place that’s also bright and fun.

The Kat is a disappointingly pale purple since Beni-Imo are usually so rich and dark but it smells very strongly of Beni-Imo.

It’s a bit disappointing actually as it’s quite bland. Usually my first bite gives me something, a flavour or at least sweetness but this is just an empty nothingness on the tongue. It’s not overly sweet at least but it mostly tastes of the wafer and that’s a big no no. As you chew flavours do develop and they’re absolutely sweet potato flavours. We have sweetness, nuttiness, earthiness, even fruitiness peculiar to purple fleshed potatoes. It’s a very complex and adult flavour and it hits every part of your palette beautifully. It also has a nice after taste with the earthiness lingering in your mouth long after the sweetness has passed. This isn’t the best sweet potato Kit-Kat I’ve had (now there’s a sentence most people can’t say) but it’s still a very good and very adult flavour. A touch bland to start with it eventually blooms into a complex variety of tastes that is really satisfying and delicious, a great way to end this box.

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Kyoto is the biggest tourist attraction in Japan. If you’re thinking of visiting you only need to see two cities to get a sense of the dual sides of Japanese culture. Tokyo represents everything modern, sleek, technological, otaku and inventive about Japan. It’s Japan as it is now. Kyoto is Japan as it was for nearly a thousand years, a city of temples, shrines, museums, historical sites, geisha, parades and festivals. It’s a time machine in city form where every corner you turn unveils yet another shrine, yet another icon of Japanese culture or of its refined past.

So of course it warrants not one but three whole flavours dedicated to it, flavours we’re going to discuss today.

Cinnamon Cookie

Well now, here we have a flavour I’m actually excited about for a change. These are based on Yatsuhashi, a kind of biscuit from Kyoto. I know them more as bridge cookies than cinnamon cookies but they are flavoured with cinnamon so that moniker is accurate at least. Why bridge cookies? Well they’re supposed to resemble one particular bridge in Kyoto due to their slightly humped shape. Although there is an image of these cookies on the packet it’s a bit small so here’s a picture.

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As you can see there is a slight bridge shape to these. Oh and here’s a bonus, they are AMAZING!

Cinnamon is one of my favourite things in the entire world and I am a sucker for any cinnamon flavoured treats. I particularly love Yatsuhashi, and one company in particularly that makes a set of them frosted with either chocolate, strawberry, or, best of all, green tea chocolate.

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If you ever find yourself in Kyoto and see that smiling face above BUY THEM! You will not regret it. Those biscuits are straight up divine! I mean if you can’t trust my opinion when it comes to biscuits whose can you?

I bought a packet every single time I went to Kyoto. In fact I’m not alone there. Pretty much every school kid in Japan has to visit Kyoto at least once because it has, oh, 70% of all the countries important historical artifacts and sites in one city. Similar to Washington D.C. for American kids except the Government these days is in Tokyo. And when those kids visit Kyoto they almost always buy some Yatsuhashi as their Omiyage.

Clearly nestle is enraged at losing this Omiyage battle and so, Yatsuhashi Kit-Kats.

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The packet is okay. There is one clever design element here which is that the red portions of the packet are not straight blocks. Instead they are slightly curved reflecting the curved nature of the biscuit, and the bridge. Beyond that it’s a simple, handsome black and red design with a picture of a Yatsuhashi. It’s still too cluttered but it’s better than some other efforts.

How do they taste?

Well firstly they smell of cinnamon and whilst we have white chocolate it’s speckled with what is either genuine Yatsuhashi fragments or cinnamon fragments. Either way my anticipation is building.

Oh that, that is damn good.

Give me a moment people.

Awwww, awww yeah.

Well, these are delicious.

I’m a little biased on this one. I love cinnamon, I love Yatsuhashi and this tastes exactly like Yatsuhashi. I was always going to like them if they taste like Yatsuhashi. Actually, even better, it tastes like the chocolate covered Yatsuhashi I used to buy. The fragments of actual Yatsuhashi baked into the Kit-Kat chocolate carry all the taste and some of the texture. The rest of the texture is in the chocolate, the wafer is totally lost and really resembles a biscuit more than a Kit-Kat. It isn’t too sweet, it isn’t too sour, it isn’t waxy, and it isn’t soapy. It isn’t really like a Kit-Kat at all really but it is oh so very good. The main taste you get is a sweetened cinnamon with all the complexity that spice can provide really so you get sharp spicy notes, brown sugar notes and deep nutty notes. It’s a rich flavour that hits all the parts of your mouth.

Ultimately it’s a cinnamon biscuit though. Now that happens to be one of my favourite things in the world, your mileage may vary but I’m calling it now, this is my favourite Kit-Kat.

Yep, historic day guys. Note it down, Kit-Kat reviewing has reached its apex, I have found the greatest Kit-Kat.

Shame I only get two in this box.

Matcha Green Tea

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The Ur, the platonic ideal, the number one Kit-Kat somebody thinks of when discussing japan is of course the green tea Kit-Kat. Specifically Matcha green tea, a kind of green tea powder that is incredibly bitter.

I have written about some green tea variant dozens of times as nestle seems to keep trying to reinvent the wheel with it. Green tea tiramisu, fluffy green tea, green tea for adults, etc. But this one here is the original green tea kit-Kat, the daddy of them all.

It’s a shame then that the packaging is a big let-down. Although it goes the smarter route of using an asymmetric design it wastes most of its space with a big old slab of pale green colour. I’d forgive it if Matcha was a pale green colour but it isn’t Matcha is deeply vibrantly green. It’s green like a crayon or a yucca plant, not green like pea soup or a hospital wall and this Kit-Kat by far resembles the latter.

Frankly that pale institutional green colour always conjures up vision of hospitals and dentists for me so it isn’t exactly selling me the flavour here.

Although the Kat itself is worse as they’ve coloured it the green of a very ill person’s stool. This is diarrhoea green. Food should not be this colour. Well, not when you eat it anyway. It does smell nice though. Although faint it has a nice clean refreshing smell that does strongly resemble Matcha.

And it eats just fine. I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it a million more. Real Matcha tastes of very little except bitter and the trick with it is to pair it with something sweet to cut the bitterness and release the refreshing tea flavour. Kit-Kat side steps this by adding sugar and making it taste sweet to begin with. That means you mostly have sweet nothingness and a slight tea flavour. It’s waxy but creamy and probably too sweet. It also has a horrible aftertaste similar to what you get with artificial sweeteners. But it does kind of work, it’s not bad whilst you eat it and it does pair quite well with some real tea since it is so sweet.

Our final Kyoto flavour is

Hojicha,

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a kind of green tea that is roasted to turn the leaves brown making it similar to a black tea but with less caffeine. I’ve never actually heard of Hojicha and apparently it is a relatively modern invention created in Kyoto in the 1930’s. Sadly it’s slipped under my radar as I do like the sound of it. Consequently I can’t tell you if this Kit-Kat tastes like Hojicha, just whether it tastes nice or not.

The packet is similar to the green tea, asymmetric but with a big old slab of pale yellow nothing for much of the wrapper. It does one up the green tea as it doesn’t put me in mind of a hospital and it also has a nice detailing on the left side of a rose, evocative of an old fashioned tea room.

 

Well, if the last Kat was ill person’s shit coloured this is just straight up regular shit coloured. Honestly I have to take a photo of this to share it with you all.

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My photography skills can’t really capture the awfulness of it. That is not an attractive colour for a chocolate bar, or indeed anything. Avoid pale browns guys, it isn’t a good look.

It also lies and makes you think you’re getting real chocolate but nope, brown coloured white chocolate. Brown, coloured, white, chocolate. That’s just evil Nestle.

It has no smell at all and a taste that is hard to place and hard to describe. It’s not as sweet as Matcha and actually tastes more like green tea than Matcha does with a much more consistent tea flavour throughout. But there are other flavours in here too. There’s a kind of burnt flavour, particularly in the after taste and something I can only describe as tasting the way rotting leaves smell. That’s not entirely unpleasant despite the metaphor I chose in fact it’s distinctly autumnal.

I like this a lot more than the Matcha and its worth comparing them since they are very similar in taste except this is a touch less sweet, a touch stronger in the tea aromas and also has that added extra something that I’m struggling to place. It has a horrendous after taste though, not only do you get the sweet artificial sweetener taste but a taste of burnt that sits in there for ages. It kind of spoils the rest of the biscuit, fortunately that just means it pairs well with a mug of tea, or indeed some Hojicha I’d assume.

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The Ultimate Kit-Kat adventure continues and this time we’ve got a duo of cheesecakes and some random citrus fruits.

Yokohama Strawberry Cheesecake

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This is, sadly, another flavour I’ve tried before. Last time I wrote.

“The smell is strong and really distinct. This is obviously a strawberry cheesecake and nothing else. This is pretty much perfect actually, not too strong and not too weak. However mine are a bit old now and there is a weird element of sweaty cheese to the odour.

The taste is sweet but not too sweet, a touch gritty but not waxy and with a nice mild creaminess to it. Cheesecake definitely comes to mind but it tastes not one iota of strawberry. The strawberry flavour is completely absent. Weirdly there are some weird sharp cheesy notes, like cheddar or something. Not a feature I associate with cheesecake or with Kit-Kats.

The after taste is ungodly sweet and really harsh. It’s dehydrating and sits at the back of the throat like a cough. That’s not strictly speaking a bad thing though because these are meant to be eaten with a hot drink.

All in all a bland and inoffensive Kit-Kat that would go well with a hot drink.”

I also moaned that the individual wrappers were boring beyond all belief being just flat cream and red bands but that the box had a nice wrapper with a lovely red brick pattern. This ties in nicely with Yokohama as the city is one of the of the most international in Japan, it was one of the first cities to establish permanent trading ports with the outside world. For Japanese people red brick buildings are considered a western thing and something unique to a few places in Japan, including Yokohama.

Well thankfully they took my advice to heart and the individual wrapper is just a smaller version of the box and incorporates the lovely red brick pattern that is so evocative of Yokohama. This is the most attractive wrapper from this box so far.

Apparently it’s not an age thing; the sweaty cheese odour is present even in a fresh Kat. Again I’m mystified at that since cheesecake usually uses a soft white cheese with a fairly bland flavour. This though smells like cheddar you’ve left out of the fridge. Or feet. Chocolate should not smell of feet. Even Quentin Tarantino doesn’t love feet so much that he wants his chocolate to taste of it.

This time around I can definitely taste strawberry but it’s fighting to get in there with some other flavours. Sweet is obviously the main thing you can taste along with some sour cheese notes that, again, are more reminiscent of cheddar than a cheesecake. I get a strong sense of the creaminess of a cheesecake and fighting to get you to taste it is the strawberry. It’s like a royal rumble in your mouth. All the flavours come in at once and one by one get knocked down. First goes strawberry, then cheese, then sweet and finally only creaminess remains; but what’s this coming into the ring? Why it’s horrible waxiness and his tag team mate soap, and oh they just took a chair to creaminess. And waxiness has booted soap out the ropes. It’s waxiness, waxiness is the champion!

And again like before there is a weird sense of dehydration in your throat when you eat one and an aftertaste that is pretty foul.

I might have given the impression that I don’t like these all that much but they’re actually not bad. The fight in your mouth is quite pleasurable despite the notes clashing a bit. The main problem is the aftertaste which is waxy, slightly salty and pretty sour. Wash it down with a nice brew though and this works just fine.

Joetsu Koushinetsu Blueberry Cheesecake

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Oh joy another cheesecake. Well at least it’s one I’ve not tried before.

The packet actually has a photo of some fields and meadows which is a distinctly un-Japanese setting. Forests, yes. Snow-capped mountains, yes. Cities, yes. The sea,  fuck yes. Fields? No, I think I saw 3 pretty scared looking blades of grass in the entirety of Kobe; it’s just not something you see a lot of. So I had to do a bit of research on Joetsu and Koushinetsu and from what I can tell that’s a golf course.

Koshinetsu is not a prefecture (like a state in the U.S.A) but basically a geographical area (like New England or the Mid-West) encompassing the prefectures of Nagano, Niigata and Yamanashi. This is a very fertile area due to the climate and there is a lot of farmland. But farmland in Japan doesn’t look like rolling hills and meadows for the most part, it’s flat rice paddies. So I have no idea what that picture is of and my best guess is it’s a golf course since apparently there are a few in the area.

Whilst the area is famous for farming and undoubtedly produces a lot of blueberries it’s not really famous for blueberries per se, nor cheese, so I have no idea why they chose this flavour to represent Joetsu. Nor am I sure why they feel it necessary to represent Joetsu at all. Joetsu is a small city in the Niigata prefecture and we already have a Kit-Kat for all of Niigata with a flavour that is strongly identified with the area. Why not just double up on Niigata? After all there are two entries for Shinshu and technically that doesn’t even exist anymore (the area known as Shinshu should more properly be called Shinano and is entirely contained with the Nagano prefecture now). Kobe and Osaka don’t rate a Kit-Kat and Osaka is the second most famous and most populated city in the country. Whose cock did Joetsu have to suck is what I’m asking. Not out of idle curiosity either, if I find out who maybe I can get meat pie flavoured Leeds Kit-Kat. It makes as much sense as some of the other flavours.

The packet is a mess, we have a big photo that makes no sense, and it’s overcrowded and unattractive. I give it props for two things. One is its blue, not something Kit-Kat has always remembered to do with their blueberry flavoured products. Two, I think the photo of the blueberry cheesecake looks delicious and I want one. I don’t necessarily want a blueberry cheesecake Kit-Kat but it’s a big step in the right direction.

I am disappointed immediately when I open the packet because it smells of sweaty cheese and that to me says this is going to be very similar to the Yokohama strawberry cheesecake, actually though, it is very different. For starters the sour cheese notes are totally absent outside the smell. Secondly the blueberry flavour is much, much stronger than the strawberry. In fact it overpowers almost everything else so the prominent flavour is definitely blueberry. The other flavours are there though but in a supporting role. That’s what they should be doing though. Blueberry is the lead singer and cream, sweetness and richness are the rhythm section. The creaminess, the sweetness, they should support the fruit flavours not ruin them and this does the trick nicely. It’s also not nearly as sweet as Kit-Kats usually are and despite the coloured chocolate does not taste of soap.

It does have a slightly sour aftertaste and the problem of drying out your throat like the strawberry cheesecake but this is a vastly superior effort. A really great Kit-Kat.

Citrus Golden Blend Flavour Chugoku and Shikoku

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Wow Chugoku and Shikoku kind of get screwed.

Shikoku is an entire island, the smallest of the main islands admittedly but still one of the 4 main islands of Japan. It could deservedly get a flavour of its own. Chugoku is a geographic area that basically encompasses the bottom part of the main island; again this is a fairly large area with lots of different cultures and even major cities like Hiroshima. Hiroshima doesn’t get a flavour? Hiroshima has some of the most iconic and distinctive food in Japan. Yet Shinshu, which doesn’t even exist anymore, gets two?! Are the family guy manatees selecting Kit-Kat flavours now?

Citrus Golden Blend is apparently a mix of orange, lemon and lime judging by the packaging. That actually sounds nice but rarely do the nice sounding Kit-Kats ever turn out that way so I am cautious about this one. We’ve had dabbling’s with lemon before and they haven’t worked out well.

The packet is one of the better efforts in the bunch. I like the patterning of light and dark orange as the main colour and the almost tropical leaf and citrus designs incorporated into it. It evokes freshness and a certain modernity. It’s not very Japanese but it is very aesthetically appealing. Also like the Dorayaki flavour it isn’t a central bar of one colour and two bars either side but one main colour and a bar off to one side. With as crowded a design as they apparently have to be (since they need to cram the Kit-Kat logo on there and the calorie info) it’s a smarter use of space than trying to make it symmetrical. I also like the gold border which adds a touch of class to the otherwise relatively modern design. This is a nice looking packet.

The Kat is a surprisingly deep orange in colour and smells strongly of oranges when you open it. It tastes of oranges. No lemon or lime that I can discern just, orange. It’s a nice orange though, fresh and fruity and just sour enough. It’s also not too sweet. This is a surprisingly competent flavour here. The initial taste is sweet orange, and then you get a sour note that kind of elevates the sweetness and fruitiness. It’s even got a nice clean aftertaste. It’s a tiny bit soapy but the sour notes do a lot to help clear that flavour from your mouth. In fact it leaves your mouth quite refreshed, not something I normally expect chocolate to do let alone terrible nestle chocolate.

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