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.