Monday, March 14, 2016

Sampling dozens of Japanese Kit Kat flavors

I love interesting foods.
It's always fun to me to find a different version of something everyone likes. Whether that be sodas, chips, or candy.
On our trip to Japan back in 2011, I had a great time finding unique versions of snacks. One of the treats that was the most fun to find were the different versions of Kit Kats. So why is it that there have been over 200 unique flavors of Kit Kats created in Japan? The name Kit Kat is very similar to the phrase "kitto katsu", which translates to "surely win". It became a popular gift to give school children before finals, and then eventually led to regional flavors. If you want to try them all, you'll need to travel all around Japan to find each flavor.

Or you can do what Theresa did and find someone who's already done all the hard work for you, all leading to a super awesome gift to me! Twenty eight unique flavors of Kit Kats!

Eating them all by myself might be fun, but it's even more fun to share the experience! Who better to invite than our original Japanese travel companions Jacob and Ruston!
Adding some cuteness to the mix is Ian. Of course he loves Kit Kats, but most of the time he calls them Kitty Kats. 

The work for me began a few days before we all got together though. All of these packages have Japanese writing on them and very little English. Before sampling them, I had to know exactly what we'd be tasting. There are a variety of websites dedicated to the flavors, and within a couple hours, I had figured out almost all of them. There was one particular flavor I relied on Facebook friends to translate for me.

In the background I turned on music from Tokyo Disneyland to get us in the mood.
With sticky-notes applied, it was time to start taste testing.

Luckily there's 5 of us sampling flavors today, so by splitting the bars into 5 pieces, hopefully we won't get sweeted out.

Try one!

Somehow he always managed to pick the biggest piece...

Mmm. Savoring the delicious flavors.

Yum. What's next!

Okay, let's get into the flavors! To start, the five of us actually started with the American version of a regular Kit Kat, to get a baseline.



I had a hard time figuring out what was special about this next one.
Kit Kat for Cafe, seemed to be just like a normal Kit Kat. Looking online I was getting conflicting information. One site I read seemed to say the chocolate was more dense so it could stand up to being dunked in coffee. Another site seemed to indicate the chocolate would melt quicker, so you could put it in a sandwich.

In the end, it was very similar to the first one. Perhaps it was more firm and crispy.

Dark Chocolate Kit Kat - So far nothing too crazy.

The dark chocolate was a little bitter, but nowhere near as strong as Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate.

Shinshu Apple Kit Kat - Now we're getting into something interesting! I like how there's unique packaging for all these flavors. And this particular Kit Kat is only available from a certain region.

Oh man. Before this, I would have said that Asian candies really do fruit flavors well. This apple flavor though it completely overpowering and tastes totally chemical. The chocolate along with it just made it even more weird. I did not like this one at all...

Shikoku Citrus Golden Blend - Orange, lemon, and lime flavors. This one has to be good.

And sure enough, it was delicious! Possibly my favorite out of all the ones I tried. I thought it tasted just like an orange creamsicle, and that's a very good thing.
Ruston made the comment that it's the color of cheese, to which Ian replied "Is it Kitty Kat cheese?"

Green Tea - There's four different flavors today that feature green tea somehow.

The first looked to have little bits of green tea infused into the chocolate. If you like green tea, you'll like this one.

Uji Matcha (Green Tea) - Another green tea

This one might have been a little less sweet than the first. Or not. It's hard to tell.

Sakura Matcha (Green Tea Powder and Cherry Blossom) - During the spring cherry blossom season, this combination green tea and cherry blossom Kit Kat is offered.

The favorite of the green tea Kit Kats so far. The green tea flavor is offset by a little bit of a floral flavor.

Kumamoto Green Tea - Featuring Kumamoto's official mascot Kumamon. Will this have a hint of black bear flavor in it?

After all those other green tea Kit Kats being green, I was surprised to see this as a dark chocolate. I liked it a lot better than the others because the dark chocolate overpowered the green tea flavor.

Hazelnut - Will this be like a ferrero roche?

Another tasty one. The chocolate on this one was a little darker than normal too.

Kobe Pudding - Kobe like the meat? Is this a meat flavored Kit Kat? No. Kobe is just the region it's from.

Mmm. A caramel flan. I thought I tasted hints of coffee, but it could have been something else. Either way, a tasty one.

Pumpkin Pudding - The box we received had a Halloween flavor.

I really thought this would taste like pumpkin pie, but I had a hard time tasting any nutmeg or cinnamon. T and Ruston were able to taste cinnamon, but all I tasted was pumpkin. 

Purple Sweet Potato - An interesting choice. T's favorite type of sweet potato.

I'm glad it's purple. It's very sweet, but you can taste a hint of sweet potato in there.

Osaka Raspberry - Raspberry Kit Kats? The strawberry ones are pretty good. I wonder how closely they'll be able to make it taste like real raspberries.

It even looks like there's seeds in here. Jacob and I both thought it tasted like a real raspberry. Theresa hates fake raspberry flavor and still didn't like it.

Azuki Red Bean - The red beans you'd usually find in a sweet bun, now in Kit Kat form.

This one isn't so sweet. It's kind of a bitter red bean. I'm not a fan, and Theresa who usually likes that sort of thing wasn't that much of a fan either.

Hokuriku Azuki Red Bean Sandwich - Is this really a thing? Red Bean sandwiches?

Again, the red bean comes through pretty strong.

Kyoto HojiCha Roasted Green Tea - I'm not a huge fan of these types of teas, but some in our group are. Let's see what we're getting into.

Well that's an interesting color. There were a few comments around the table on that.
Eww. Eww. Eww. I hate this one. It completely tastes like a roasted tea, but I was picking up some sort of fish flavor too. Jacob likened it to the smell you get when you go up in your attic on a hot day. This split the group. Some enjoyed it. I did not.

Tokyo Rum Raisin - I wouldn't have even known this was a regional flavor without a little research. But looking at the package, you can just make out the word Tokyo on the grape stem. We were really hoping it would be blue.

But it was white chocolate. I could actually taste some raisin in here.

Kyushu Amaou Strawberry - From the Kyushu region, famous for growing very large strawberries with intense flavor.

A more rich strawberry flavor and less creamy than some of the ones below.

Tochigi Strawberry - There sure are a lot of strawberry varieties.

A creamy strawberry.

Wa-Ichigo Strawberry - Made with the Tochiotome variety of strawberry, which is praised for its balance of tartness with sweetness.

A very well done strawberry. T was reminded of a chewy strawberry candy.

Mount Fuji Strawberry Cheesecake - I like the packaging highlighting the region.

The cheesecake flavor didn't come through very well. It was tasty, but we thought it was more creamy strawberry. Strawberries and Cream would have been a better name for it.

Yokohama Strawberry Cheesecake - I think this is the same flavor as the one above. The photo of the cheesecake is identical.

It tasted very much like the first one. I'd guess it's the same.

Tohoku Mixed Juice - A mix of apple, cherry, and peach juices. I had a hard time figuring out this flavor. The English word KitDreams on the package led me to articles about Nestle sponsoring an amateur baseball team in the Iwate Prefecture to reinvigorate the area after the great 2011 earthquake.

A very fruity combination. Likened to bubble-gum, but not in a bad way. A couple of us like it, but Ruston thought it tasted like the fruit punch paste your dentist uses when he polishes your teeth. Needless to say, not his favorite.

Shizuoka Wasabi - This one could get interesting. Will it have some heat to it?

It was a pale green color. We actually pulled out the video camera to record Ian while he ate it. But in the end it had a very creamy flavor with just a hint of horseradish. You really have to be looking for it.

Along with the smaller packages of Kit Kits, this larger box was also included. That's an interesting graphic on the front. Why does it look browned on top? Let's check the back.

Huh? These look like they're supposed to go in the toaster oven.

Okay... Let's give this a shot.

So they go in like this...

... and come out like this? What is this wizardry? Kit Kats in the toaster over? And they look just like the package showed!

There were three such flavors with this writing on them, that suggested toasting them.
Cheesecake (bakeable) - This is going to be interesting.

Pale white before going in.

And a tasty golden brown delicious when it came out. After letting it cool slightly, we all were excited to taste it. Yum! Just like a warm cheesecake. The flavor was right on, and this was tied with the Golden Citrus as my favorite.

Custard Pudding (bakeable) - Another tasty variety.


This one was also creamy and delicious. I'm still amazed how well it's turning out after being in the toaster oven.

Sweet Potato (bakeable) - Nothing like a warm sweet potato is there?


Not too sweet, and definite sweet potato flavors.

Alli trying to get in on the tasting action.

Well that was a lot of fun. 28 different flavors of Kit Kats and all shared with good friends. Thank you Theresa for such an awesome gift.

For those who might want to do something similar, Theresa ordered this mixed Kit Kat box from eBay. For $40 (and 2-3 weeks for it to arrive from Japan), you too can sample a variety of unique flavors!

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