Dark Chocolate Japanese Kit Kats

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to review the dark chocolate Kit Kats from Japan. I’ve reviewed matcha, dark chocolate with pepper, but never plain dark chocolate. Especially since I prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate (and definitely against white chocolate). Well, that ends today as I do a quickie review of this flavor of Kit Kat.

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First things first, this flavor is not limited to Japan. In the U.S., Hershey (as I’ve mentioned before makes American Kit Kats) does have a dark chocolate version of the candy. Compared to the milk and white chocolate versions, I much prefer the dark chocolate version.

That being said, there is a difference in taste between Japan’s version and the one in the U.S. The U.S. version is pretty standard dark chocolate. No real “wow” factor, but it does its job. When I tasted the Japanese version, I was struck by the coffee flavor. This was odd seeing as how there’s no coffee anywhere in the ingredient list, but there was definitely something different in this Kit Kat that separated it from its American counterpart.

If you’re wondering which was better, you’ll be disappointed to hear me say that it depends on your personal taste. For me, the Japanese version edges out the American version, but barely. I’d recommend trying both to see which one fits your palate. Cost wise, you may want to stick with American version as it is cheaper and it’s no worse than the Japanese version.

Overall, I give the candy a 5/5.

 

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Foodie Friday: Japanese Kit-Kat

I’ve done quite a few reviews about Japanese Kit-Kats on this blog. One thing I haven’t mentioned is that I think the candies are better made overseas because Nestle does the Kit-Kats rather than Hershey who does the American Kit-Kats. You can especially see the difference here with this Kit-Kat inspired by the Chocolatory, a store in Japan that specializes in Kit-Kats.

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This candy is made with milk chocolate and has cranberries and almonds embedded on the top. It doesn’t have a big wow factor like the ones with pepper, but it’s a satisfying treat when you’re craving some chocolate.

What stood out to me was how different the candy was from American Kit-Kats even when you account for the almonds and cranberries. Despite having milk chocolate, the Japanese Kit-Kat is not as sweet as its American counterpart and you could be forgiven for thinking it was dark chocolate.

To see if it was just me, I’ve had a few others try the candy. My mom, who vastly prefers dark chocolate over milk chocolate, found the candy to be enjoyable and not as sweet as American Kit-Kats. I found the same response with others who tried the candy.

That made me wonder if we Americans are getting cheated from quality Kit-Kats because Nestle decided to lease out the name to Hershey (you can read about the deal here). Or perhaps it was just this particular Kit-Kat inspired by an even fancier Kit-Kat one can only get from Japan. Whatever the reason, my quest to sample Kit-Kats and other candies from around the world continues.

P.S. I purchased this bag from MT Supermarket in Austin, TX. Check your local Asian food store or try Amazon or eBay.

Foodie Friday: Exploring Austin’s Chinatown Center

Tip for all of you travelers deciding where to eat: Always visit the places that aren’t in your hometown.

A while ago, my friend and I decided to go to Chinatown Center located in Austin to catch up and for nostalgia. Back when I was in college, my friends and I would make the trek for some food and treats to take back with us to campus.

First stop was some bahn mis and spring rolls from Baguette House and Cafe.

If you’ve never heard of a bahn mi, it’s a Vietnamese answer to an American sub. On crispy french bread, you can get a variety of meat (I got the House Combination with pate) along with cilantro, pickled carrots and daikon, mayonnaise, soy sauce, and jalapenos. Thankfully, they put the jalapenos to the side and I could enjoy the sandwich without the terrible tasting peppers.

My friend ordered us some spring rolls with barbecue pork and it was pretty good. I definitely want to try and make my own one day!

After lunch, it was time to walk around and what better place than a market? While in MT Market, we picked up some interesting new treats, including a new flavor of Kit-Kats, tea flavored candies and Assam Milk Tea.

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I’ve had milk tea before, but not this particular brand. The taste was definitely the same, sweet and a taste similar to tapioca balls. It wasn’t too sweet and it had the right amount of creaminess to it. I had mine chilled, but the can says you can drink it warm or cold (just don’t microwave the tea in the can).

The new flavor for Kit Kats is sweet potato flavor. While it’s supposed to be toasted, I opted out from enduring with another melty candy like the baked cheesecake flavor and ate it plain. It was very sweet and reminded me of the ube flavor Kit-Kat I had a while back.

Lastly, the tea candies. They had several different flavors, but ultimately I picked green tea latte. It was as if I was drinking a cup right here and now. The green tea was very strong with a nice creamy texture. I definitely would recommend putting this candy in your jar.

Last stop on the Austin trip was for some dessert at Snow Monster (and before you wonder, it wasn’t too cold outside).

I’m pretty sure I was thinking shaved ice in my head, not realizing that the store specialized in shaved milk or snow ice as they call it. According to the website, it’s a popular traditional treat in Taiwan that involves shaving from frozen milk (though you can get soy or water a.k.a Pure Ice) and adding in syrup and any toppings you want.

As you can see by the left picture, I didn’t exactly pick the most aesthetically pleasing bowl. Still, the matcha flavor was nice and not too harsh and I love the mochi and the tapioca balls on top. My friend’s bowl (on the right) was a bit more colorful choosing a green apple syrup, strawberries, mochi, and pecans. We each tried the other and the verdict was positive for both.

My recommendation? Get a small if you don’t plan on splitting. We both got a small and it was definitely enough for one person!

I had a great time exploring more of the Chinatown in Austin and I definitely have plans to come back again.

Japanese Kit-Kats Part III: J.L. Attempts to Bake a Candy Bar

So, baked cheesecake Kit-Kats. They’re a thing.

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I was in my local Asian market looking for something different to try when I stumbled upon this flavor of Kit-Kat. My eyes lit up when I saw the package next to the other Asian candies and knew I had to buy it. While I do appreciate ordering them online, it’s always nice to be able to buy it in person and not risk them melting in your mailbox.

Cut to this evening, and I decided to open up the package and try one of them.

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The first thing that I had noticed was that this smelled exactly like cheesecake! Even my mom who has always been amused and incredulous about buying Japanese Kit-Kats agreed that it definitely smelled like the real thing. Points to Japan on accuracy.

What makes this Kit-Kat interesting is that you can bake it in the oven to replicate the taste of baked cheesecake. I decided to try it after finding the translation to the instructions online. After all, I am an adult who can cook and I’m not scared to bake a candy bar with Japanese instructions!

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I kept mine in for two minutes but didn’t get the browning effect that others got. I’m not sure if I should have left it in longer or if I didn’t have the right temperature. Let me know in the comments section.  Truth be told, once I saw the candy part start to melt I decided that baking was for the birds and pulled it out, trying to remind myself that this was due to my inability to read Japanese rather than my own baking skills. It was still perfectly edible if a bit melty but I would like to try it as it was intended on the package.

I’ve got to say, of all the flavors I have had from Japan this is definitely one of the most accurate in taste. It was as if they took a cheesecake mixture and spread it around the wafers and put in a package. Even with it “baked”, the flavor was still strong if not stronger.  This is definitely one of my favorite flavors that I have had from Japan and I definitely give them props.

Now, would it go well in the U.S.? Without a doubt! Americans love cheesecake and this flavor nails it. Even if you don’t bake it, it’s still pretty enjoyable and I would recommend trying the flavor.

J.L. Explores…..Japanese Kit-Kats Part Deux

This month I continued my exploration of sweets from other countries with another sample box of Kit-Kats from Japan. Now, an interesting story about this package is that I thought I got the wrong one. The box was for the Pepper flavored Kit-Kat and I had to contact the people who sold it. Turns out the assortment was put in a different box. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the apple and cheesecake flavored Kit-Kats and got another Sweet Purple Potato flavor. I did get a new flavor with an Easter Rabbit on it so not a complete loss.

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The first one I tried was the one with the Easter Rabbit on it (and yes, Texas heat struck us all and melted the candies.) Of all the flavors I tried I could not place this one and the only flavor that seemed to match the packaging was the 2015 Easter edition that was supposed to taste like apple pie. While sweet, I certainly couldn’t detect any hint of apples. If you know what flavor this one is, please let me know.

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The second was the Azuki Bean/Nagoya Red Bean Sandwich. Now I have tried a red bean pastry before so I had an idea of what the flavor was supposed to be like. This candy tasted exactly like it that I had to wonder what Willy Wonka magic they pulled to get that flavor. I also wondered what they did to my taste buds because I actually liked the flavor.

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The third one was the Chili Pepper/Yawataya Togarashi Kit-Kat that lives up to its name. By first glance, smell, and taste you would think it’s just normal dark chocolate. You bite into it and you get dark chocolate and you wonder if maybe they got this wrong until the pepper comes up to punch you in the tongue. As for the actual flavor, it’s not a bad flavor. Or at least whatever wasn’t being overwhelmed by spice. It’s also not that sweet either.

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Lastly, we have the Rum Raisin. For this candy I went to the cabinet to find some rum extract that I could smell and taste to see how closely the Kit-Kat got to that taste.Let me be the first one to say that tasting rum extract is a terrible idea as I found myself gagging, reminding myself I was doing it for the sake of those who would read this review. So dear explorers, the Rum Raisin Kit-Kat is accurate if a bit on the sweeter side. The candy coating threw me off as I was expecting a brown color rather than the cream color in the package.

Final Thoughts:

I think the Rum Raisin would be loved by most Americans though the Chili Pepper would have a place with the foodie/adventurous Americans. Red Bean would be more niche, in particular in areas with a high Asian population.

As for me, my favorite was the Red Bean. Not sure if it’s being a mature twenty-something but I much prefer candies that aren’t too sweet or will kill my tongue and Red Bean fits the mold. My least favorite was the one with the Easter Rabbit on the package if only because the flavor was bland and much too sweet.

As always if you want to try Japanese Kit-Kats you can buy them on Amazon, eBay, or any website and local store that specializes in Japanese snacks and food. If you do try some, please tell me your thoughts. What were your favorites? Least favorites?

J.L.’s Review of Japanese Kit-Kats

Google Japanese Kit-Kats and you’re going to find a variety of blogs and articles talking about the “strange” flavors and vlogs of people opening the candies and showing their reactions to the flavors. As someone who has traveled and loves to try new foods, I wanted to join all the others. Unfortunately, I had put the idea out of my mind since it seemed like I had to know someone in Japan to send them to me.

Still, I decided to just search for places to buy them and lo and behold it wasn’t just a dream! I purchased the Kit-Kat “Western Japan” box that included two wrapped candies of six flavors. In this box, the flavors were hojicha, ujimatcha, kankitsu, strawberry, sweet purple potato (beniimo), and wasabi. A good place to start I would say.

When the box arrived, I was impressed with the neat packaging and thankful for the pictures so I and romanticized words so I wouldn’t have to Skype with my friend. One of the things I noticed in the picture is that Nestle’s name is featured on the box. To give a little background information, Nestle, the company that owns the Kit-Kat, does not distribute the candy in the U.S. Instead, Hershey distributes the candy under a license from Nestle and state on their bags and website that Kit-Kat is a registered trademark (you can read about it here). I have to admit, this was a bit of interesting trivia and I briefly wondered if the regular chocolate Kit-Kats from Nestle tasted different than the Hershey ones as I settled into my box.

The first thing that got me when I opened the package was the scent. I was pleasantly surprised by how fragrant the scents were and it made my day when I tried the candies.

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The first flavor I tried was the sweet purple potato that was lilac in color and had a very sweet scent. I never had a sweet purple potato to reference from to see if the flavor matched. Despite that, it was very sweet to the point that I had to pause between the bars and grab a glass of water. Definitely something to try if you had a sweet purple potato or have an extreme sweet tooth.

Next was kankitsu, the citrus flavored candy. Taking that first bite, I was immediately reminded of an orange dreamsicle as the orange overpowered the other citrus fruits mixed in with what tasted like white chocolate. This time I had my mom tried it as well to get another opinion. She found the candy to be a bit too sweet for her liking. However, she did agree that it lived up to its name with how powerful the citrus flavor was.

The next sweetest flavor was strawberry and of all the flavors I think this is the one that could make it in the U.S. It had a very creamy texture and the strawberry flavor was in full force when you bit into it. Definitely a must to try if you’re a strawberry lover.

My favorite was the ujimatcha. It’s a little less sweet but it’s very fragrant and there’s no mistaking that it’s green tea. I think this flavor would go well in the more metropolitan areas who want to try something “exotic”.

Wasabi was the one I was a bit apprehensive about since the last time I tasted wasabi my sinuses were cleared and I could smell the whole world around me. The adventurous part of me won out as I decided to taste the candy. Of all the candies, this surprised me the most because it’s actually not that spicy! I don’t know if the heat was tempered by the candy coating or they intentionally made it not spicy but the wasabi kit-kat tasted more like sweet horseradish than anything else.

Finally, the last flavor I tried was hojicha which according to Google is a green tea that is roasted. This contrasts to the usual Japanese method of steaming the tea. Like beniimo, I had no idea what hojicha tasted like and was prepared for anything. Of the flavors, this one was the most bland in terms of taste and smell. Maybe it was because of the roasted tea but I didn’t get much out of the candy. I gave the second piece to my friend who actually told me she liked it and it reminded her of tea, in particular oolong. Maybe I have to be a tea connoisseur to appreciate the flavors.

If you want to take a trip on the adventurous side definitely give Japanese Kit-Kats a try. You can find them on Amazon, eBay, ShiokJapan, Tofu Cute, and Asian Market Stores in your area. Personally, I enjoyed myself trying each of the six flavors and plan to try more of the Japanese flavors.

My question to you all is have you tried a Kit-Kat from Japan? If so, what was your favorite flavor? Least favorite? If you hadn’t, what flavor do you want to try? Leave a comment below.