Monday, November 25, 2013

Japanese KitKat (Red Sweet Potato, Shinshu Apple and Kyushu Strawberry)

My friend at work JCOS gave me some of their specialty KitKats that they got when traveling around Japan last September. Thanks JCOS! The below is my review of these special KitKats that are unique to Japan.

Red Sweet Potato.  It's purple!

Red Sweet Potato
Very nice packaging.  This is a special Okinawa/Kyushu version, which is interesting in the sense that I didn't realize that Okinawa/Kyushu were known for their sweet potato.  While the label says red, the KitKat is actually a light purple color.  Will that affect the taste of the KitKat?  Let's take a bite:

The initial bite has that doughy, starchy sweet potato taste.  There is a slight, savory aroma of steamed sweet potato that accompanies each bite.  It starts off well but after a few bites, the aftertaste is definitely white chocolate with only a hint of sweet potato. What's interesting is that while all subsequent bites taste like white chocolate, that initial bite was definitely sweet potato. I had something salty before eating the KitKat so if I cleanse my palate, I was curious if I would get get that same sweet potato taste. I do the following:
  • drink a sports drink
  • drink water
  • eat a couple of potato chips
I then take another bit of the KitKat.  Yes, yes ... sweet potato again!  At this moment, I decide that I need green tea.  Eating Japanese KitKat felt like I was eating wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) and the whole experience needed a cup of tea to go with it.  I found some packets of oolong tea and made myself a hot cup.  I unfortunately spilled some tea over my hand but was determined to continue with my taste review.  The tea hit the spot but it did not get rid of the overpowering white chocolate taste.  I decided that to counterbalance the white chocolate aftertaste, I needed more potato chips.  I ate a handful.  Man, potato chips taste good.

Pros:  nice packaging, purple, initial bite does indeed taste like biting into a steamed sweet potato from a street vendor
Cons:  lingering white chocolate aftertaste, drinking oolong team doesn't help (next time, I'm going to try green tea)
Verdict:  better than I had expected.  But the dominating white chocolate taste makes this more white chocolate than sweet potato

Shinshu Apple.  It looked like a regular KitKat but with magical apple power!

Shinshu Apple KitKat

Opening up the Shinshu Apple KitKat packaging, you're greeted with a very robust apple smell but tempered with the smell of KitKat chocolate.  Will this taste better than the white chocolate/sweet potato hybrid?  I take a bite (and yes, I have my cup of hot green tea with me).

A very rich, chocolate taste with a hint of green apple, very different from the Sweet Potato KitKats. I have to say that I like the combination:  the sweetness of apple and the smoothness of milk chocolate go hand in hand; no white chocolate aftertaste.  This one is definitely habit forming but not as habit forming as a can of Pringles.  

Pros:  Nice packaging.  Great mix of apple and chocolate.
Cons:  there were only two wafers
Verdict:  sweet, fragrant, a perfect harmony of sweet apples and milk smooth chocolate for a delicious combination

Strawberry KitKat.  It was pink and delicious.

Strawberry KitKat
This is the special Kyushu edition ... that's where my parents are from.  Kyushu Strawberry comes in a creamy pink color with a faint smell of artificial strawberries.  Just having finished Shinshu Apple, I drink more tea to make sure the lingering apple taste does not affect my judgement of the Strawberry KitKat.  How does it taste?  Let's find out:

The first bite reminds me of strawberry ice cream in a cake cone.  Yup, it's the taste of ice cream, strawberries and crispy cake cone, all rolled up into one.  Very delicious.  No white chocolate aftertaste but no chocolate taste either; it's like pure artificial strawberry goodness

Pros:  strawberries, cream and KitKat wafer goodness
Cons:  strawberries and nothing else  
Verdict:  savory strawberry flavor with KitKat crunch.  There isn't anything unnecessary about these KitKats.  It's pure strawberry + KitKat goodness put together.  I like it

Strawberry was fine but it was just strawberry.  Score:  5/10
Apple combines chocolate and apple together and works splendidly.  Score 6.5/10
Red Sweet Potato tried too hard and copied too much of white chocolates flair.  Score: 4/10
Winner of this round:  Apple

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