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
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.
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.
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.