Friday, 1 February 2008

Candy toys, nibbling for the soul

Long, log time ago, some Japanese genius decided that, given that toys and candy were any child favourite things, why not combine the two of them? That's old news, as any Kinder Surprise fan knows, but this is Japan. While the norm is having the toy as an incentive to buy the candy, or maybe some kind of complement like a Pez Dispenser, Japanese Candy Toys offer a very small and not very delicious candy with a kick ass cool toy. I don't think anybody would buy a Candy Toy for the candy, so why bother? The answer, sadly, is money. Candy toys get sold as food items, which means they are tax free. If it was me, I'd put a candy in every toy box in Japan.

- Name: Candy Toy

- What is it? It's a toy. There is a candy somewhere in the box too.
- How much of it? Not enough candy, more than enough toy.
- How much in moneys: Cheapy cheapy, from Y100. The one pictures was Y150.
- Reason to buy: Eh, the toy, full stop.
- Reason not to buy: This is not a real nibble :(
- How does it taste? Ehks... Sometimes it may be refreshingly sour, but that's about it.
- How did it feel? Cheap toys? They feel good any time of the day! As a nibbler? I feel scammed.
- Show it to me!

The toy:

The candy itsefl:

So, yeah, sorry, while this is not a real snack, I had to put a picture of the toy I bought :). Which, by the way, was unable to find any info of in the Internet, and any tips on where does he come from would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Mitarashi Dango - Mochi-on-a-stick

For me, there is always a nibble (usually a sweet) that I just can't stop eating. For example, Hacendado chocolate cereal bars (red berries and white chocolate, or banana and milk chocolate, mmm), or Toffee Crisp. Now it's Mitarashi Dango (みたらし団子) . Wikipedia describes it as “a Japanese dumpling made from mochiko (rice flour), topped with a syrup made from shouyu (soy sauce), sugar and starch. Popular with children and women.”. If it's popular with children, it's bound to be good; Mitarashi Dango doesn't disappoint.

- Name: Mitarashi Dango.
- What is it? Three or four balls of a mochi-like thing on a skewer, topped with ultra sweet syrup .
- How much of it? You get 3 sticks in a box in any convini or supa.
- How much in moneys: Convini: Y105; You can get them for Y99 in Jusco, and even reduced if the “eye” is burned in the wrong place!
- Reason to buy: Oh man, this is just too good. It's nice and filling, the perfect in-between-meals nibble (hey, I'm a Nibbler, in-between-meals snacks are ok for me!). And despite the sugar, all the other ingredients are healthy, so it's bound to bee good for you too!
- Reason not to buy: Addictive; I've been found licking an empty plastic box Mitarashi Dango, situation that does no good to your social status.
- How does it taste? Ok, let's see... The dango itself (the ball) tastes pretty much like a slightly sweeter mochi (I just tried them both to compare :) ), and It gets completely eclipsed by the mitarashi (the syrup), with a very sweet syrup-like (obviously) taste, combined with a hint of caramel provided by the “eye” burn, and a slight and nice salty after-taste thanks to the soy souce base. Seriously, jut too good.
- How did it feel? The dango is much less stickier than mochi, but the chewiness is all there; the syrup is thick and finger-lick (or box-lick) inviting. If you put it in the fridge, the syrup transforms into jelly. I myself prefer the room-temperature Mitarashi Dango so the syrup richness gets all around the mouth.
- Show it to me!

So, just a step behind a complete breakfast (ok, maybe not), Mitarashi Dango are NOT just for children and women: no good nibbler should overlook this mouth-watering delicacy.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Moroccan elephant – Instant Ice cream

I went to a all-sweets-you-can-eat bar the other day, and, oh boy, I enjoyed myself. The theme was “back to your childhood”, and it was like Nibbler's Paradise or something: lots of different sweets ranging from the delicious, to the bizarre, to the simply disgusting. They had some plum jam sachets that tasted like rotten salt (if salt could rot); we saw this two Japanese girls eating it in some kind of communion wafer sandwich and say: “yeah, this is quite horrible”; why did they eat that on their childhood? Because Japanese kids are just greedy.

However, my favourite thing of all the stash was Morokkoyo-Guru (モロッコヨ-グル). A quick translation of the name reveals it must be related to both Morocco and a guru, but the how is just beyond my grasp. Enter the fact-o-meter.

- Name: Morokkoyo-Guru.

- What is it? Some kind of very thick cream (like glazing, but with with ice-cream texture) that you eat with a small wooden spoon like tool.
- How much of it? Very small container, you'll be wanting more afterwards. I didn't take any size comparison pictures, but you can take my word for it.
- How much in moneys: As I said it was free where I got it, but I reckon between Y10 to Y30.
- Reason to buy: In that particular place, Morokkoyo-Guru was like the Karate Kid: the best around. Otherwise, for simple pleasure indulgence.
- Reason not to buy: It's extreme sweetness and melty feeling may be too much for the not-true nibblers.
- How does it taste? Very sweet with a pinch of some kind of very sour powder.
- How did it feel? It really melts in your mouth in a slow way, making the experience a really full-flavoured sweet-and-sour roller-coast. That good. Also, the spoon thingie was shaped to the body of the container, for maximum intake of Morokkoyo-Guru, and the container itself lacked of sharp edges for a real finger-licking episode.
- Show it to me!

It's a shame I don't have the address of that place, but I'll be sure to post it here if I ever go again. In the meantime I'll cry for the lack of Morokkoyo-Guru, as I haven't been able to find it anywhere else... better look to you in this never ending snack-searching quest that is the live of a Nibbler.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Yakisoba pan, the spaghetti sandwich of Japan

One of the things that really caught my eye the first time I came to Japan were those noodle sandwiches (using hot dog bread!) with red bits on top and mayonnaise to complement... seriously, WTF? Since then I've learned that in Japan, if it's edible, it should be in a sandwich. Thus, the yakisoba pan was born! It's cheap, filling, and delicious! Seriously. Remember that Japanese convini and supas have microwaves you can use; a cold yakisoba pan may be more than even I can handle.

- Name: Yakisoba Pan.
- What is it? A hot dog bun filled with fried noodles Japanese style, some pickles on top and mayonnaise on the side. Yummy.
- How much of it? A hot dog bun filled with maybe a bowl of fried noodles. Plenty of carbohydrates for energy production!
- How much in moneys: At Y135 a piece, go for it.
- Reason to buy: It's cheap, it's good, you can scare girls with it.
- Reason not to buy: It's looks will back you out, but it's a must!
- How does it taste? As advertised, like a fried noodles sandwich.
- How did it feel? This is no nibble we have here, this is full lunch. Prepare to be satisfied.
- Show it to me!

I'm glad that I finally tried this delicatessen, it's given me the strength to try more horrible looking foods.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

White and Cookie chocolate: fast and cheap

Japan is full of very strange, very small, VERY cheap sweets, my dessert for today is one of the lees strange, but tastier, ones. White and Cookie chocolate, by Chiroru-choco, is a one bite chocolate full of crunchy goodness at low range price (buy now!).

- Name: White and Cookie chocolate.
- How much of it? One small piece of unknown weight. About 2 normal bites.
- How much in moneys: Y21, fuck yeah, in Family Mart.
- Reason to buy: Cheapy cheapy fast fix for choco addiction.
- Reason not to buy: Too much cookie, not enough choco.
- How does it taste? Not like white chocolate at all, kind of creamy with lots of oreo-style crunched cookie bits for added crunchiness.
- How did it feel? Good, the sweetness levels of this chocolate are high, but the small size makes it not satisfying for the real nibbler. Multiple purchase is recommended.
- Show it to me! You can't see it very well, but it has a space ship on top (another reason to buy, swooooosh!).

This is the only Chiroru I've tried so far, but I have no doubt I'll be testing the rest of the gamma soon :)

Minmin daha, drink of the zombies

Why am I writing this blog now? Well, nice of you to ask; in fact, I wrote it yesterday in my head because of Minmin daha (眠眠打破), the drink that keeps you going. Really, it does. To the fact-o-meter!

- Name: Minmin daha (as I said, I know squat about Japanese, this is what it says next to the kanji in the bottle... I asked in he shop for "Ichiban genki, nemui nai")
- How much of it? 50 ml per bottle.
- How much in moneys:
Y315 (There is another version for Y399, maybe more powerful?) in Family Mart.
- Reason to buy:
You don't sleep. Period.
- Reason not to buy:
You will NOT sleep. Prepare to stay awake the whole night.
- How does it taste?
Slightly cofeey, but not very strong in general.
- How did it feel?

    After the first drink:
Awareness, the brain can't stop thinking, eyes can't stop looking even when shut (I could feel them twitching).
    After the second drink (the following day):
More of the same, not so much awareness, utter sickness.
- Show it to me!

So basically, after a bottle on Minmin daha, you'll find yourself unable to sleep until several hours later. After a second bottle the next day, I also got myself a nice diarrhoea and sickness. Try at your own risk.

The Why of the Nibbler

Man, I love sweets. What I do not like are blogs; I think most blogs are boring, unnecessary or arrogant (there are, however, exceptions). This one will probably be those 3 things together, but it has been created to fulfil a social task: review the weird and the sweet, those small nibbles and beverages that populate the shelves in Japanese convenience stores and supas. So you don't make the same mistakes I make.

Seriously, I've been looking on the internet for this kind of thing, and not finding it, I have decided that if you want something done right, you better do it yourself. This doesn't mean such thing hasn't been done, just that my retarded skills were unable to locate it. Hopefully this will be easier to bump into (go, goggle rank, go!) for people with similar lack of competence.

Only one more thing to say: I am not a native English speaker, so please pardon my lack of expertise (and abusive use of; neither I am a Japanese speaker, so these reviews come from my total incomprehension of what most labels say... but otherwise sweet-discovery wouldn't be an art :)

So, let's roll.