February 2nd: 'Bits n Bobs' Japanese Selection

My friends at J-List have yet again updated themselves with all that is good and new in the Japanese confectionery market, and as ever they have been very generous in their willingness to send me some samples. The 'Bits n Bobs' review today will feature offerings from Meiji, Nabisco and lastly Bourbon. All of these products of course can be bought at the aforementioned J-List website. In the interest in words overkill lets get on with things ...

Meiji Rich Strawberry Chocolate Box
Kcal 176 Fat 11.9g Carbs 15.8g (per 30.0g)

Feelings were undoubtedly mixed when I saw these Meiji Rich Strawberry Chocolates gracing my latest sampling package. I was pleased in the sense that I was going to get the opportunity to to try another from Meiji's 'Rich Chocolate' offerings, however I was also well aware of the fact that strawberry flavoured chocolates weren't exactly a Japanese speciality. In a change up from the Meiji Rich norm, I tried this product in this 'box' format, which included several smaller foil coated sticks. As is always the way with Japanese chocolates the presentation wasn't an after thought. The packaging was nice looking on the eye, and the chocolate was a striking pinky, red colour.

With the promise of the chocolate being comprised of 70.0% strawberry I was expecting an intense taste from the get go, but the little sticks took a very substantial amount of time before the flavours progressed from an initial faint sweetness. Indeed, it wasn't until the later stages of the melt that the fruit flavours were full flow, at which point I was left with mixed feelings. Any person with a half decent palette would have been able to determine that this was a strawberry flavoured chocolate, as the sweet, tarty strawberry flavours were obvious and at least differentiated from other similar red fruits. For a strawberry flavoured white chocolate the taste was pretty spot on, though unfortunately at the same time it was incredibly short lived and non-substantial.

Overall I would feel comfortable recommending Meiji Rich Strawberry Chocolate Box to people looking specifically for a decent strawberry white chocolate, however I would say there isn't enough here for the less enthused to get too excited about.

7.2 out of 10


Nabisco Oreo Fun Stix
Kcal 149 Fat 5.7g Carbs 21.7g (per 31.2g - 6 Stix)

To this day I still find it funny how a brand like Oreo can have more products released in the likes of Japan that it does have here in the UK. Indeed, just like they do in the States, Japan also plays host to these Nabisco Oreo Fun Stix. When I first saw these my mind immediately thought of a review posted by Marvo a while back on The Impulsive Buy - See HERE. Our man Marvo wasn't one who got a great deal of 'Fun' from these 'cylindrical chocolate cookie wafers lined with Oreo creme', but I still look forward to trying them for myself as it gave me an excuse to whip up some hot chocolate and ice cream desserts :D

These Japanese Fun Stix came in an attractive looking box, with two 31.2g packs containing 6 Stix within each. In order to really put them through their paces I tried these Stix in a number of manners, some I have detailed already above. The taste tests I conducted using them as straws for hot chocolate and milk were pretty unsuccessful, as the wafers fell apart into tasteless mulch within seconds of contact with any fluid. When eaten on their own or with ice cream however they certainly stood up to the test, and the slightly salted cocoa hinted wafers were supplemented terrifically by the creamy sugary filling that lined the insides all the way through to create a delicious, moreish Oero taste.

Overall as a stand alone snack I found these totally non-substantial though I can't deny how wonderfully tasty they are when used as an added topping for a dessert. On this basis I can highly recommend these, Pocky fans especially will want to take note.

7.2 out of 10

Meiji Porte Chocolate Snack Tiramisu
Kcal 280 Fat 19.3g Carbs 23.5g (per 47.0g)

Meiji's second snack offering I'm showing you today came from a part of their range that I hadn't previously come across. Despite reviewing many a product of Meiji's in the last two years, their Porte Chocolate Snack range was not one I had tried so I took the time to do some investigating on J-List before trying these out. Described as a 'great nut shaped snack, filled with whipped cream on top of a cookie wafer base, sprinkled with cocoa powder', I did correctly presume that the Tiramisu element was incorporated into the cream filling.

I hope my photos do the product justice, as these chocolates were superbly unique looking and appeared exactly as displayed on the box. In every sense it was very lucky that they were so aesthetically appealing, as I'm not sure I would have even tried them had my sense of smell been left to it's own devices. Indeed, these smelt absolutely horrible - like gone off, soured milk - totally disgusting. Thankfully they tasted a whole lot better with the bases and cocoa powder supplying an instant and ever present onset of unsweetened chocolate biscuity flavours. When the light fluffy centre was encountered, the taste soon took a sweeter, creamier emphasis. Most significantly, as the cream melted it displayed all the desired tiramisu flavour hits, with hints of alcohol and coffee both forthcoming at various points. The textural interplay between the wafer cookie base, soft cream filling and cool cocoa dusting was also a real treat.

Overall its not often we see a product score so highly on one metric and then so dismally on another, but these Meiji Porte Chocolate Snack Tiramisu were severely let down by their size and smell. Those looking for authentic Japanese snacks should try these if they feel they can overlook these obvious flaws.

6.7 out of 10

Bourbon Choco Zutsumi Vanilla White
Kcal 364 Fat 10.5g Carbs 65.3g (per 92.0g)

As I always like doing I have saved the best until last, and I pleasure of presenting you with these Bourbon Choco Zutsumi Vanilla White. Now for those of you who are wondering what the hell these actually were, please allow my firends at J-List to do the honours: 'a popular favorite in Japanese pastisserie - This is a delicious Vanilla White ice cream confection shaped into yummy bite sized daifuku (soft white rice mochi)'.

These Zutsumi came in a 92.0g box that contained two separate four piece inner trays. In terms of Japanese snacks, it has to be said these were as authentic as you are probably ever going to get. Out the packet and in hand these mochi felt ever so strange with their jelly like exteriors putting my mother off trying them completely. I have to admit that the texture took getting used to, but once the harder cream filling was encountered it was a total after thought anyway. The centre portions of these Zutsumi were quite simply out of this world. They have to be one of the creamiest tasting confections I have ever tasted - Devonshire clotted cream wouldn't be a far off comparison. As well as creamy, they were also wonderfully flavoured with sweet, real tasting bourbon vanilla. Quite simply they tasted absolutely delicious and they certainly had that 'just one more' addictive nature to them.

Overall these were one of the finest Japanese snacks I have tried in a long time and I honestly can't recommend them enough. At first some may be a little disturbed by the mochi dumpling texture, but honestly when it comes to the taste I promise you they won't disappoint. These get a big ChocolateMission thumbs up.

8.4 out of 10