Monday, December 31, 2012

Sidenote: Small Plates


I hope everyone had a great's to more treats in 2013!

Continuing my post from yesterday, I decided to talk about some of the non-snack things I pick up on my trips to Mitsuwa, a Japanese super market in Edgewater, NJ. Yesterday I showcased some Japanese breads and today I will detail some random pre-packaged foods. Mitsuwa has a huge section of pre-boxed bento, sushi platters, onigiri and miscallany such as grilled eel slices and salmon.

My standby is always tamagoyaki. You may recognize this atop nigiri at your local sushi place but it is delicious by itself! Tamagoyaki is a little omelet made with egg, soy and sometimes dashi, sake and sugar. It is made by layering and folding the egg mixture in a square pan. 


Next is a seaweed salad made of a particular variety named hijiki. I'm usually not a fan of eating just seaweed but this has a subtle flavor and almost meaty texture. It's mixed with some soy, sliced carrots and more slices of fried tofu. I believe you would find this on some Japanese tables as an accompaniment to a meal.


Lastly is something I picked up on a whim one day since it seemed out of place but WOW is it good. Japanese meatballs or niku dango are not made of beef but of pork. The sauce is a thick sweet soy sauce and perfectly hits those notes of sweet and savory.

I hope you enjoyed this deviation from typical snacks...get ready for more Japanese snacks all year in 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sidenote: Japanese Breads


It's almost New Years! New Years is a rather important holiday in Japan and this time of year Mitsuwa (my largest and favorite haunt for Japanese treats in Edgewater, NJ)  is full of advertisements for special bento boxes and prepared foods.

I decided to talk about some of the other things I purchase at Mistuwa aside from sugary and salty snacks. Usually I will pick up a bunch of Japanese breads and small specialties for dinner that evening when I make a pilgrimage. Since Mitsuwa is not too close to where I live I have to make the most of it! I divided the post up into two parts- Japanese breads and miscellaneous Japanese foods.

I love Japanese breads. I've made a couple of posts regarding the infamous melon pan and the less infamous but much stranger spaghetti sandwich. Japanese breads are very unique. There are countless varieties that can range from a meal in a roll to a desert oriented sweet bean paste bun. I purchase these breads from a bakery within Mitsuwa called St. Honore. I'm not certain if they exist in Japan but there a couple in the US within other Mistuwa branches. "Pan" is Japanese for bread and clearly comes from European roots.

"Dutch Roll"

"Cream Pan"

"Corn and Ham Breads"

I want to preface by saying that though I have my favorite Japanese breads, I always try to pick a few I have not had before and the ones below were all new to me aside from the corn bread. The first bread was called a "Dutch roll". I was not really sure what to expect from that name but the bread was...completely not Japanese tasting! It was a normal, not sweet, slightly yeasty roll. It was a good roll but not what I've come to expect. The next was a "cream pan". The outside was flaky and the inside contained a generous amount of  a delicious Boston creme-like filling. This was was a winner. The following two breads were similar. The outer bread was slightly sweet and buttery while the filling was creamy and contained ham and corn respectively. These are a little more savory but very very good.

This last bread was in a freezer case and caught my eye because I've never seen it before. It's called "mushi pan" and is a steamed (not baked) sweet bread. This was the highlight of this trip! The bread was very chocolatey without being too sweet. The texture is a bit dense but also filled with little air pockets. I can't wait to try more of these.

Part Two will follow tomorrow!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lotte Bikkuriman 2 Choco


This is another item I picked up at Sunshine Market in NYC (right near Bryant Park!). This little snack was $1.99 and quite clearly purchased due to the crazy packaging. What is going on here?!

Upon a little research back at home, I discovered that Bikkuriman was one of the first real item trading trends to hit Japan. In the late 80s you could buy one of these little wafer snacks relatively cheaply and each included a sticker. Some stickers were rarer than other and (sound familiar anyone?) the holographic varieties were the most collectible of them all! I'm assuming Bikkuriman spawned some games and cartoons based on my image search but I didn't fully look into that segment of the franchise.

The packaging is nuts! There are so many odd looking characters that I don't know where to begin.

The wafer itself is packaged in a little paper tray and was preserved nicely. I can't say the treat itself was overly impressive. It was not much different than those inexpensive wafers you find in any supermarket.


The real winner here was the sticker. Surprisingly, I did not know there was a sticker included when I bought it! This turtle is clearly smoking a cigarette and kind of grimy (good luck finding a smoking animal sticker for kids in the US!). His title is "tasuketa kame" which means something along the lines of helpful turtle. I'm not sure what sort of help this turtle provides and I hope I never need his particular brand of assistance.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bourbon Alfort Chocolate Biscuits


I can't seem to escape people taking vacations and me having to do 50+ hour work weeks. Rest assured I haven't forgotten about my Japanese treats.

I was able to sneak a trip into NYC last weekend and stopped by Sunshine Market near Bryant Park. I was slightly disappointed my melon pan but it is always a pleasure to see different varieties of snacks.I picked this Bourbon cookie up for $1.99. I really enjoy LU's Le Petit Ecolier chocolate biscuits and so I thought I'd give these a go. 

The box resembles a bar of chocolate more than biscuits! I appreciate the packaging as it keeps the cookies from breaking. The nautical theme is pretty awesome with the compass and ship emblem pressed into the chocolate. Apparently, it it Bourbon's trademark.


My first impression was that there were not too many biscuits in the package. While this is true if I compare it to a box of actual Le Petit Ecolier or an American box of cookies, I surprisingly don't snack often and so it suits me. The ship is actually very impressive!

Together, the treat is fairly tastey thought less so than my beloved Le Petit Ecolier. The dark chocolate is fair quality and enjoyable. The biscuit, when tasted seperately, was flavorless. Since it is a brown color (more grey in real life!) I assumed it had a slight hint of cocoa but this was not the case.

This  treat was by no means terrible but I don't think I would find myself purchasing it again.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Tohato Caramel Corn Vanilla Ice


Tohato Caramel Corn is a classic Japanese treat. It's the sort of treat you see pop up in anime and comics on occasion and can be found in most Asian/Japanese food stores. I've had the original flavor in the past and it's very good but because the bag tends to be pricey, I find I don't typically pick them up. In the spirit of winter, when I saw this new specialty flavor I went for it. I purchased this at Asian Food Market for $2.99.

The Tohato bags are always very cute with the face on them! I like how the colors match the winter/vanilla feel they are going for. The ice cream even has vanilla bean pieces in it!


I apologize for the quality of this picture...I wanted to show you all the Tohato bag on the back sitting in a lounge chair in a tropical locale and consuming vanilla ice cream. It's adorably nonsensical.


The texture is very similar to Union's Choco Corn snack and sort of like a softer cheese doodle. The flavor really does taste like vanilla ice cream! It's sweet and almost creamy. This snack was very good but since I prefer caramel and chocolate to vanilla, I would opt for another flavor next time.

Check out Japanese Snack Attack's Facebook page to keep up with all the action!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Morinaga Caramel Choco Ball


Today's fun treat is a Morinaga product called Choco Ball. I've seen this snack plenty of times but for some odd reason I kept thinking there was only a banana flavored variety and never really took the time to check out the package. This was purchased at Mitsuwa for $1.49.

I'll be honest, I needed another less expensive treat and so threw this in my basket with the thought of finally giving this common snack a shot. When I noticed it was caramel later at home I was pleasantly surprised! The box is very cute and colorful with the bird mascot and a cross section of the Choco Ball itself.


There is some sort of entreaty on the back asking which we would choose: (Choco Ball or Morinaga?) World or Universe. I don't really understand what the point of this is...


I love how the top of the box opens! It's very easy to grab just a few Choco Balls and save the rest for later. With M&Ms, I'd have to worry about the rest falling out of the bag if I didn't finish them. It's also themed like the beak of the mascot- adorable!


The Choco Balls themselves were just OK. The caramel was much chewier than I had hoped for- sort of like a Tootsie Roll texture. It definitely got stuck in my teeth and the flavor was not exciting enough to make me want to deal with that more than once. I would likely try the other varieties- plain chocolate or peanut, but caramel is a no go.

Check out Japanese Snack Attack's Facebook page to keep up with all the action!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Glico Balance On Choco Sand

I want to thank you all for your patience. After 12 days I finally got power back in my apartment. My neighborhood was not close to the Jersey shore but I have never seen such extensive widespread damage in my life. My heart goes out to all of those who lost homes and fared worse than I! In my real world job I have been working 16 hour days due to those displaced by the storm and while it's been the most challenging 2 weeks of my life, I am very very thankful that I was lucky with only power outages. Now onto some snacks!

This snack was documented and consumed before the storm. I purchased this during my last trip to Mitsuwa for a reasonable $.89. I have had great experiences with Glico's products in the past (The soft caramel was delicious!) so I was willing to look past the plain packaging.

Glico makes Pocky, but their other products seems to strive for a healthy angle. The caramels contained oyster extract while these "sands" (No I don't know why they are called "sands" and not "sandoicchi", which is how you would say sandwich in Japanese) are named Balance On.

I assumed there would be a few sandwiches laying horizontally but to my surprise there were 6 little vertical cookies in the package. This was a great size to split with my husband or to break into 2 snack servings. The sandwiches look like they are made of whole wheat.

They were delicious! The cookie was slightly sweet and the chocolate creme flavorful. I really enjoyed these. They were a good size and priced well. I would not hesitate to throw a few of these in my basket during my next trip.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pringles Sweet Tomato


I hate Pringles. I know this is sacrilege to some but I will take a classic fried sliced potato over a weird congealed baked mashed potato substitute any day. Yet, I am not so jaded as to not try an interesting Japanese flavor of said baked snack. I picked up this "sweet tomato" variety at Mitsuwa for $1.99 in order to broaden my horizons and not succumb to my predispositions.

The packaging is the same as any small American Pringle tube.


I do find the Pringle chip with the picnic tablecloth and squeeze ketchup on his back interesting. I don't really understand if it is trying to be an anthropomorphic chip or a table or what.

Ok, I really liked this variety of Pringle. I admit it! While not something I really thought to be in the flavor profiles I seek, I seem to really like the tomato flavored potato snacks like Marukyo French Fries. I finished the entire tube with my husband in a few minutes.

Would I buy it again? Maybe. I really enjoyed it but there are SO many cool flavors of Japanese chips like seaweed and squid!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bourbon Choco Anpan

Today I tried another Bourbon product- Choco Anpan! I've reviewed two Bourbon products in the past- chili crackers and Petit cakes. Despite being very different products, my verdict was the same- almost good but lacking a little something. I don't know why I keep picking up their products- hope, perhaps?

("soft chocolate inside bread!")

The box is very tempting...Mr. Bourbon Chef looks like he knows exactly what he's doing. Apparently there's both calcium AND Vitamin D in this treat- how exciting and healthful!


The interior packaging is cute..including Mr. Bourbon Chef and the company name in katakana.


The little "buns" really do look like their actual counterparts! The browning on the top and sesame seeds look fairly realistic.


The actual treat? The same exact feeling as the other products! (what did I expect?). The bun was softer than expected but in a soggy way. I was hoping for a bit of crunch. The chocolate was chocolate, rather unremarkable. I have to apologize for my insistence on this of mediocre food are boring!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Morinaga Dars Bitter Chocolate


I am back from an excellent excursion on Disney Cruise Line's Dream ship. The only way to console myself on the fact I'm back at work in a Japanese treat! I was able to stop my Mitsuwa on the way back from an NYC day trip last weekend and picked up this Dars chocolate bar.

I love dark chocolate. Unless there is an interesting flavor like salted caramel in a milk chocolate or white chocolate bar, I never pick up anything but dark for personal enjoyment. I've always seen interesting dark chocolate bars in Mitsuwa but they tend to be pricey. Even this little package was $1.99! Then again Hershey candy bars are over a $1 in most places. I remember they used to be 2/$1 at nearly every pharmacy!

The packaging is very mature looking with black being the prominent color and not too much in the way of decoration. There is not really even any product description aside from "bitter chocolate". I really appreciate the way the box opens! This is probably why it's $1.99 versus the little thin sleeve Hershey bars come in.


The great packaging continues inside the inner wrapping. The little chocolate pieces are actually on a cardboard tray! I know I've said it a ton of times but the attention to detail in the physical packaging of Japanese treats is incredible. The chocolates themselves are not attached but small individual bricks with Dars stamped on them.

I like Morinaga products, though in the past I've mostly had their chewy fruit flavored candies. Trying their chocolate for the first time was exciting and did not disappoint. The chocolate is very smooth and on the lighter end of dark chocolate. It was a little bitter but slightly sweeter than Hershey's Special Dark. I felt it was a good solid quality dark chocolate and while nothing particularly special, I would pick it up again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Calbee Hitokuchi Bizen


I saw these on sale at Mitsuwa for $1.99 and was psyched. I love whole grain-y and fruit snacks and bars and these Calbee Hitokuchi Bizen biscuits embody everything I look for in a treat. However when I got home and checked my receipt, I discovered I was charged $5.99 for them! This officially makes this snack the most expensive one I've reviewed so far.

The box is great as it lays out exactly what is in the snack. There were a couple of other varieties as well but this combo was the most appealing to me. Not to be repetitive but I really love the box design...


This variety contains figs, prunes, bananas, walnuts and two different grains.


There are 4 packets in the box which contain 4 bite-size pieces. The bags are punched with a hole at the top...usually I see this when you expect to hang them on a peg in a store. I'm not sure why these particular bags sport that feature.


I'm torn on the flavor. My first impression was that it tastes like bread crusts. As I ate the rest I felt that the flavors of the banana, prune and fig were nearly undetectable. There was a slight hint of banana but nothing else. The fig did leave it's mark in the texture as it had the same some of small scale crunchiness that Fig Newtons have. I was not as impressed with this treat as I had hoped to be, though I will finish the bags. For $5.99, I will most definitely pass over these on my next Mitsuwa trip.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bourbon Petit Cakes


Today I decided to try Bourbon's Petit Cakes with some tea. This little package was merely $1.99 at Mitsuwa and since I like few things more than pastries, I figured it was worth the price. I've tried Bourbon's Tomato and Chili crackers in the past (check it out here!) and they were just OK. I suppose like anyone, the company was worth a second shot.

The only choice was the choco chip flavor which did not bother me. The packaging is fine though slightly unremarkable compared to some of the snacks I've reviewed in the past.


It looks more like a double chocolate flavor to me! The little cakes are a cute-sized bite or two. It's hard to compare a treat like this to anything in America. The only snack cakes I tend to see in stores are the large and preservative filled Hostess/Tastycakes/Entenmanns.

(This shot isn't half bad! Thank you for forgiving my terrible photography!)

The flavor of these little cakes are funky. The chips give a nice burst of chocolate but the cake has some off notes that I cannot put my finger on- chemicals? The texture is very airy and slightly moist. I doubt I would buy these again due to that mystery flavor. I appreciate the size and idea of this treat but it falls flat.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Milk Chocolate Salty Pocky


I apologize for the slightly slower updates the past couple of weeks...I've had quite a bit of hours at my real world job. The excessive hours should be ending this week and so I will update regularly- thank you for your patience!

Though I am a fan of Pocky, I find I don't purchase it that often as there are so many other interesting snacks out there.  I picked this variety up at Mitsuwa for $1.99 due to the fact I enjoy salt with chocolate. On a side note, my first review ever was a pumpkin flavored Pocky. Since it's quickly becoming autumn, I am hoping to find that particular option on the shelves soon. It's really a delicious flavor!

I love most Pocky packaging. The colors are vibrant and eye catching. This blue box practically yells at you from the shelf.

I don't know how I feel about their new slogan "Stick to fun!". I guess it's because it is sort of awkward and I don't know what they mean exactly. Is it "stick to fun!" like "you should stick to having a good time, because a bad time is not fun!"?

It looks much like your average milk chocolate Pocky but if you look closely you can see small granules of salt. I did not actually taste much salt when I tried it. It's there, but very very subtle. I do not think I would purchase this over your regular flavored Pockys since the salt did not add much to the experience. Now, putting sea salt on Men's Pocky (dark chocolate) would be incredible!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Morinaga Hichew American Cherry


Today I will review my first Morinaga Hichew! Hichew seems to be a pretty common Japanese candy but for some reason I have never gotten around to trying it. I picked these up for a very reasonable $.99 at the check out counter of Asian Food Market. I'll admit I was curious simply because it was some sort of American flavor.

This treat seems to be in a series of "world fruits". The packaging has a dated postcard looking picture of New York City on it. What makes me curious is why an American cherry flavor has a picture of New York City on it! Being in the shadow of the city, I am fairly certain there are no cherries grown there. I am also fairly certain there are no cherries grown on the east coast. In any case, I actually really like the packaging and it was originally what drew my eye when I spyed it on the shelf.


Having never had a Hichew, I naturally assumed I would be consuming a chewy candy. Well guess what folks...I was right! The texture is plasti-cy and takes quite a while to chew. I would compare it to a slightly softer Laffy Taffy.  It was very sweet but had a slight sour note as well which helped with the balance of flavors. I'm not a huge chewy candy fan and I would rate this as a mediocre treat. It's fair enough if your like that sort of thing but I don't think it is much better or worse than other Japanese and American chewy candies.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

One Piece Hello Kitty Gum & Magnet

I have a real treat for you all today! When I see something really odd, I get very excited and this Japanese snack was the perfect quirky treat. I picked this up at Mitsuwa for $3.49 which is a little more money than I usually like to pay.

I'm sure everyone is familiar with Hello Kitty. I don't think you have to be a huge anime fan to know One Piece either. Now, combine them and stick them on magnets and VOILA! I'm not sure exactly why this product exists but, honestly, who cares! It's adorable and fun.


I love the packaging. It;'s colorful and full of promises of what may be inside. This sort of package is exactly the type that draws my attention on a crowded store shelf.


There are apparently 12 different magnet designs and there are 2 randomly assorted sheets in each box. The first one I pulled out is mostly pink and has 4 magnets. One Piece is not an anime I am familiar with so excuse me while I call the one character AntlerGuy. AntlerGuy and Hello Kitty are chilling with their respective skull and cross bones logos.


The second is primarily red and has 5 separate magnets. AntlerGuy and Hello Kitty are waving awkward positions. There is an odd assortment of auxiliary magnets including test tubes, a doubloon and a black bag. The magnets are really good quality! They are thick and stick strongly to the fridge.

I've come to not expect much out of these gum and collectible prize combo packs. The gum in this pack continued the trend. It is strawberry flavored and coated in a candy shell. The flavor is not bad it but lasts for about 5 seconds.