March 23rd: 'Bits n Bobs' Japanese Superpost 2011 # 3

Despite the recent tragic events in Japan, the guys at J-List are running business as usual and I was the lucky recipient of yet another parcel full of goodies before the awful events occurred a few weeks ago. I'm sure you guys will be glad to know that Peter read the feedback from my last lot of Japanese products, and has sent over several of the latest Kit Kat, Pocky, Meiji etc flavours that you guys requested recently. Enough of the chit-chat - Lets get things going shall we :D ....
Meiji Tasty Cinnamon Chocolate
Kcal 211 Fat 13.9g Carbs 19.5g (per 36.0g pack)

Its not unlike the Japanese do buck a trend, but even I was surprised to see Meiji come out with this latest cinnamon flavoured chocolate. Cinnamon chocolate isn't a common flavour combination I have seen across Japanese confectionery (actually not at all before), nor is it one that I ever really see paired outside of Christmas festivity periods. To be honest I could have cared less - I'm good to try anything :D Unfortunately I can't fill you guys in with the official on-pack blurb due to the language restrictions, however by the best of my knowledge this was a 36.0g pack of six chocolate sticks with base dark chocolate layers with cinnamon flavoured white chocolate on top.

Packaging and presentation were really what really rather standard for typical Japanese products - stylish and possibly excessive haha! The unsealing of the individual foil stick packets straight away set the expectations of the experience to come, with strong spicy scents emanating with very little subtlety. Meiji can never be a brand who can be accused of not delivering the promised flavour variation - the cinnamon was by far the dominant influence on the taste with both chocolate types taking a very 'backseat' presence. Had it not been differentiated in colour, I probably wouldn't have even noted the presence of the dark chocolate base, the white chocolate and strong tones of cinnamon dominated from the start of the melt to the end with their contrasting creamy, spiced flavours.

Overall despite having it's limitations with it's one dimensional cinnamon flavouring, I actually quite liked this chocolate and thought it was a decent offering. If this particular spice isn't anything that gets you too excited then there isn't much here for you, though if you fancy getting your fill of this combination without having to wait until Christmas this is a pretty sound option. Another solid, if unspectacular flavoured chocolate from Meiji.

7.5 out of 10

Lotte Tiramisu Chocolate
Kcal 424 Fat 32.0g Carbs 30.3g (per 69.0g pack)

The next product up today comes from Lotte who are probably most renowned on this site for their superb Pocky 'me2 range' Toppo, and of course the Crunky Cereal Chocolate bars. Whilst the Toppo and Crunky offerings are the most commonly featured on both here and J-List, Lotte also have a few other chocolate bar lines that they constantly update with new flavours etc. The most recent one sent to me was this Tiramisu chocolate - a limited edition offering that is described by J-list as 'Super rich fresh cream and cheese stuffed between classic Lotte milk chocolate' .... sounds unappealing huh!? Well it turned out to be really rather good.

Before I start describing how wonderful this tasted I unfortunately can't gloss over the horrible packaging this bar came in. The Japanese are usually so terrific in making their products look appetising, but in my opinion their attempt at creating a retro look here was off the mark and more looked like design work suitable only for a pair of 1970s curtains :D Thankfully thoughts of the wrapper were all soon forgotten when I got around to tasting the chocolate. As you can see the bar was thin in nature, however still managed to create a dual textured mouth feel with it's softer truffle filling sandwiched between the smooth, glossy outer chocolate. Taste wise the milk chocolate wasn't particularly special with it's sweet creamy flavours, though the inner tiramisu centre really came through, adding strong twists of coffee and mild boozieness to create a very enjoyable, progressive flavour journey - big thumbs up.

Overall I was very impressed with this Lotte Tiramisu Chocolate and would happily recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the dessert itself. Although the bar hasn't managed to break the 8.0 out of 10 mark, it is worth noting that this was solely down to the standard of the packaging, which for a Japanese product was surprisingly below par. If you are ordering from Japan in the near future I would suggest you consider this as something you add to your basket if you like the sound of it.

7.6 out of 10

Tirol Chocolate Kinako Mochi
Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???

I'm going to finish off todays set of reviews with the ChocolateMission debut of a brand of chocolates called Tirol. Tirol chocolates are famed throughout Japan and the Far East for their small sized nature, indeed these individual square shaped chocolates are about the size of a standard truffle, weighing only 9.0g each. My first experience with the brand was with this Kinako Mochi flavoured chocolate, which for the uninformed Japanese foodies amongst you means 'sticky rice cake with soy powder' flavour.

I really went to town here with the photos for this chocolate, as I really wanted to get across just how unique and wonderfully crafted these chocolates looked. Each individual pieces came wrapped in a dual layered wrapping, the first being a colourful, well designed plastic warpper, and then below that a silver foil wrapper for freshness. As much as the exterior wrappers were interesting, these really did pale in comparison to the delightful taste and texture experience that awaited me. The outer portion of the piece was a dark coloured white chocolate and established a sweet taste that had notes of roasted peanuts, cream and custard present throughout. Sat in the middle of the chocolate, a firm jelly like layer added a wonderful gummy sweet like texture experience that was terrifically unique and beautifully constrastive to the smooth melting chocolate.

Overall I give my first experience with the Tirol brand a big thumbs up and I think I have found yet another Japanese brand that has found itself a terrific little niche in this congested confectionery market. What these Tirol chocolates lacked in size, was more than made up for by the delicious tasting chocolate and exciting, unique texture experience delivered by the mochi filling at the heart of each piece. If you are looking for some Japanese chocolates that are a little differentiated from the rest then I suggest taking a look at Tirol's range now.

8.0 out of 10