While I was compiling the snacks & food we tried on this trip, I was in disbelief. Did we really tried and bought that many stuff in our short 1 week vacation? The list seemed to be endless and it took me quite a while to scour through my photos so as to consolidate the following list. These are items generally available throughout Japan, versus regional snacks that I post under the corresponding cities/region.
I shall start with items which we had in Japan – those that you are unlikely to spend the effort bring back to Singapore. Followed by items that we bought towards the later part of our trip e.g those snacks that could be found typically at the airport.
- Häagen-Dazs ice creams
Tried the seasonal edition of Annou Imo (orange sweet potato) – a special type of potato with an extra-high sugar content and flavourful orange-hued flesh. There are bits of potato and a thick honey-like sauce at the centre of the cup.
More seasonal editions: Hojicha Latte which has deep roast flavour with a creamy base. And the Specialite Matcha Opera ice cream which replicate the concept of “gâteau opéra” by adding different layers of ingredients such as matcha green tea ice cream, almond cookie wafer etc. This luxurious edition also cost more than the standard ice cream cups.
- Drinks Category
This two transparent teas introduced by Suntory – a Japanese brewing and distilling company were highly sought-after items on Airfrov’s requests in Singapore. That was before it eventually came to our shores in late Nov/early Dec.
Grabbed them – Transparent Milk Tea and Transparent Lemon Tea when I was in Japan and it turned out to be more of a fad than anything else. Claims of it having a rich milk tea taste and texture was…meh….
Personally I prefer Suntory‘s Minami-Alps Tennensui & Yogurina (yogurt flavoured water). You don’t need to get it in Japan, you can find it in Donki Singapore. Although this taste similar to Calpis, it is less sweet and less dense. It’s a refreshing drink to cool down in Singapore‘s blazing hot weather.
Admittedly some of the drinks we purchased was more for the packaging like the Autumn Kirin Beer with foliage prints. But others like the Asahi 16-Blend Tea which was more functional, said to be a healthy drink that can help control sugar levels after a meal due to the sugar-suppressing ingredients contained in it.
The cooling weather during Autumn meant that it was also perfect for a warm drink. I tried the savoury Pokka Sapporo Corn Soup and the sweet Asahi Red Bean Soup. I found it odd to drink a savoury soup without pairing it with a meal so I prefer the red bean soup which could be drank at any time of the day.
How could I miss out carbonated drinks category? Here we had the Pepsi Christmas Cola which was white in colour instead of the typical dark brown colour. Taste wise, it had a bit more zest and a slight citrus taste. The Kyoto Coca-Cola is one of the 5 designs in the city series so I bought it purely for its aesthetics.
Other than the city series, Coca-Cola also introduced an Autumn edition which I searched high and low for…
While I’m not a fan of fruit beer, I’ve heard raving reviews of this particular fruity alcoholic drink (which is not a beer). This peach flavoured one is just one of the many flavours under the Horoyoi series introduced under Suntory brand. The drink itself is a chuhai, an abbreviation of “shochu highball”. Perfect for ladies or light drinkers as it’s only 3% alcohol~
- Starbucks Drinks & Merchandise
Starbucks Puddings – I think these are sometimes available in Singapore but the Custard one is the most commonly seen. The Milk Tea Pudding is probably more rare. I bought them back to my hotel and kept them in the fridge. These come in handy when I feel like having something sweet at night, just before bed.
Of cos I can’t miss the opportunity to buy some Starbucks merchandise when in Japan. Spotted the Starbucks origami holiday season blend 2017 that comes with an Xmas edition reusable cup in the supermarket. Also bought a new tumbler since my old pink Sakura version was in need of replacement.
Spotted another Starbucks merchandise which was really interesting. It featured the iconic Starbucks Siren on a coaster. Wanted to purchase more to give as Xmas gift but this was the last piece.
- Cup Noodles Category
Instead of setting my eyes on the Michelin-starred ramens, these two cup noodles by Nissin were higher on my priority list. These are part of their luxurious series where they featured a richer soup base. Although these are not regional item, we only found them in a convenience store in Toyotashi and one (out of the numerous konbinis) in Kyoto.
The one on the left is Matsutake Mushroom Rich Cream and right is Luxury Thickness Sharks’ Fin flavour. I must put a disclaimer that it does not contain any sharks’ fin. The imitation sharks’ fin is usually made from mung bean vermicelli to mimic the chewy and gelatinous texture.
The Matsutake Mushroom Rich Cream comes with a pack of fragrance oil to be added just before eating. I was surprised to see dehydrated broccoli bits in it. There was a strong butter smell and the final soup was thick and creamy. I found the taste of this cup noodles was a bit too intense and artificial and the soup was a tad too gooey for my liking.
Here’s the Luxury Thickness Sharks’ Fin flavour cup noodles which also comes with a fragrance oil. I very much prefer this Chinese-style thick oyster-flavored soup with imitation sharks’ fin (you can spot them if you look carefully, it’s the gold-coloured strands). The variety of toppings included in this cup is more palatable such as the common dehydrated egg and veg. The addition of black fungus and goji (wolf berries) are nice oriental touches.
The 7-11 instant ramen from Tsuta (world’s first Michelin-starred ramen restaurant) was readily available in many stores throughout Japan. The pack comes with a piece of dehydrated Chashu (a common feature in many of the other instant ramen brands, see my earlier post about other instant ramens), a pack of chopped onions and a pack of fragrance oil. The highlight was the clear and light but flavourful soup. Ironically having tried the ramen at Tsuta Singapore and found the truffle taste too overwhelming, I prefer the soup of this instant ramen version which is more mellow.
The other Michelin-starred ramen that is also easily found in 7-11 is the Nakiryu(鳴龍), dan dan noodles. The restaurant was the second ramen shop in Tokyo to obtain the one Michelin-star award. Instead of the usual Chashu, the specialty of dan dan noodles is to have minced pork toppings. In this instant ramen version, they managed to replicate the same delicious topping (thanks to amazing technology). There are 3 packs of condiments in the bowl version of this instant ramen – I understand there is a cup version as well which seems to have less condiment packs. Unlike other instant noodles, the noodles were true to its original version of thinness and had a nice chew to it. The soup base had a good balance of spiciness as well as a tinge of vinegar taste. Spice lovers may add on more chilli oil if you have it at home. I usually avoid vinegar but I found this soup base rather appealing. Overall this instant noodle is really something unique and special. Kinda hard find a competitor that could beat them.
- Snacks (I) – Kit Kat
In case you didn’t know, Kit Kat has conquered the hearts of Japanese and amassed a huge market share through the frequent introduction of new and wacky flavours/packaging.
They are so popular that they started KitKat Chocolatory – a chocolate boutique that allowed consumers to purchase a variety of higher-end version of their classic products.
Birthstone Kit Kats was one of their newest addition to their already impressive lineup. Birthstone series will see a new release each month, starting from 1st November 2017. There would be a new limited-time flavor introduced each month corresponding to that month’s birthstone.
And to start things off, they introduced amber-colored Topaz Kit Kat.
Each birthstone Kit Kat is sold in a pack, with 3 individually boxed wafer. Unfortunately only 1 is the birthstone edition and the other 2 are their chocolatory edition milk chocolate and bitter chocolate flavour. The birthstone edition has a special flavor corresponding to the season. For November/Topaz they featured the chestnut.
I must say this is a good marketing strategy and this would make a touching gift to melt any girls’ heart.
If you didn’t have the chance to visit any of the Kit Kat Chocolatory, you could also find a huge variety of Kit Kat flavours from any convenience store or even drugs store. I picked this up from the 24-hour Don Quijote (aka Donki in Singapore).
This series is called Everyday Luxury. It was created to resemble the Moleson, a popular product from Kit Kat Chocolatory, packed with cranberries and almond. There are 2 versions of the Everyday Luxury series – one is using normal chocolate, another is Matcha Double Berry & Almond. The matcha version has reduced cacao chocolate and tasted less sweet than normal chocolate.
I liked the mini-size as I can then control my calories intake and the cranberries & almond toppings made me felt that I’m at least eating some healthy nuts instead of pure junk food…yup…self-deceiving…I know…haha
I’ve seen the normal version of Everyday Luxury at Donki Singapore but didn’t spot the Matcha version. However I’ve spotted the Matcha version in some Japanese snack specialty shops – selling at a ridiculously jacked up price…I’m not sure if the distributors flown these in fully air-conditioned container facility which then explains the exorbitant increase in pricing?
I swear that I’ve seen the Strawberry Cheese Cake Kit Kat before and gave it a miss back then. The new packaging reflecting the Autumn/Sakura foliage (either side) and Mount Fuji box design caught my attention this time round. A classic example of how packaging matters and could easily fool people like me?!
The Strawberry Cheese Cake Kit Kat has layered strawberry-flavored and cheese-infused cream sandwiched between crunchy wafers and is finished with creamy cheese-flavoured white chocolate.
I happened to be in Japan when they announced this mega collaboration between Tokyo Banana X Kit Kat. For a start this limited edition collaboration is only on sale exclusively at Tokyo Station from 15 November 17. I visited 1.5 weeks later thinking that perhaps the hype would be over, but to my surprise they had placed notice limiting purchase of these to only 2 boxes per customer!!! And the 15 pieces box set is SOLD OUT…
Inside each individually wrapped package is a pair of chocolate wafer bars with a groove that is split right in the centre but connected on one end – resembling a pair of banana. It has a mild banana taste, which goes well with the chocolate wafer. I would say this is another huge marketing success to Kit Kat~
- Snacks (II) – Koikeya Pride Potato Chips
While we managed to source around and collected 6 flavours to bring back to Singapore, we had done some taste test and finished 2-3 packs during our trip. We were so impressed by the awesome Matsutake Kaoru Kiwamidashi Shio (Ultimate Stock Salt with Matsutake Mushroom Aroma) – top left yellow colour rim – that we bought a few more packs back. The Matsutake fragrance and the 3-types of salt used was the secret behind its alluring taste! And the chips were really thin and crispy.
Top row centre is the: Hiden Noko Nori Shio (Secret Rich Nori Laver Salt), which was pretty nice and quite acceptable with nori aroma. But we didn’t find it exceptionally fascinating.
Top right is the: Miwaku no Aburi Wagyu (Fascinating Grilled Japanese Beef), which sounded interesting even from its name. But taste wise, it’s rather similar to the BBQ flavour with a stronger “beef” taste.
The normal series typically cost about ¥169 each (about S$2). You are lucky if you can find some stores in Singapore selling them for $2.50 – to me it’s quite a good deal.
On the bottom row, there were 2 packs under the another series indicated by the red seal that translate roughly to “hand-picked feeling“. This chips in this series seems to be thicker so it’s not as airy and crisp compared to the normal series. It is also more costly.
Flavour wise, the green package is the Yuzu fragrance Japanese Grape Pepper which was my least favoured…I guess if you are used to eating salt & vinegar potato chips, this is more palatable to you. It’s largely the salty, slightly sour, with a dash of citrus yuzu fragrance and a tinge of spicy pepper taste. Too complex…
The blue package is the Nagasaki salt which was more salty than the standard chips.
Lastly the shiny pink gold pack was the Imperial Consommé. If I’m not wrong it was the newest addition – said to only be available from 20th Nov. It’s said to be infused with the fragrance and essence of lobsters and steak. Taste wise, it’s lightly salted and has a lightly flavoured stock taste.
Having uncovered the goodness of Koikeya Pride Potato Chips we continued to purchase them whenever we spot new flavours in Singapore. Including the Gold coloured Imakane Danshaku: Maboroshi no Imo and Okhotsk salt, which we tried to hunt down in Japan but failed. The chips are made using Imakane Danshaku potato harvested in Hokkaido and due to its limited supply it is called “Phantom potato”.
Our latest discovery is the Spicy Karamucho (Ultra-rich Beef Stew XO sauce). A strong flavoured chips which resembles the classic Calbee Hot & Spicy chips, albeit with higher quality chips texture and perfumed with rich, smoky fragrance of XO sauce.
To Be Continued…Lookout for Snacks & Food from Tokyo (Part 3) coming up where I would share the list of items to grab at the Airport before you fly~
Other Related Posts:
- Snacks & Food from Tokyo (Part 1)
- Snacks & Food from Kyoto (Part 2)
- Snacks & Food from Osaka
- Snacks & Food from Kyoto (Part 1)
- Snacks & Food from Kawaguchiko
- Snacks & Food from Hokkaido (Hakodate)