Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Daigaku Imo (Japanese Candied Sweet Potato) KitKat
This bar is another adaptation of a Japanese treat to KitKat form. The last time I tried one of these adaptations, it was a disaster. However, I think it's difficult to really spoil sweet potato. The worst that Nestlé Japan could do is likely make it anemic in flavor and overly sweet. That is their usual means of failing rather than making something utterly awful.
This bar was introduced in January and clearly plays to high school kids. As some may have read on Wikipedia, Japanese KitKats are often given to kids studying for or taking entrance exams because the phrase "kitto katsu" (which roughly translates to "you will succeed/win") resembles the name of the bar. It's a way of wishing one luck or offering encouragement in candy form. This one is more closely marketed at such kids because "daigaku" means "university" ("imo" means potato). The food this was modeled after, the candied sweet potato dish called daigaku imo, was named that way because it was popular in university towns. If the name isn't enough to convince you that this is targeted at such kids, the fact that there's a picture on the back of the hat commonly worn with high school boys' uniforms is a giveaway.
This bar is constructed with a variety of flavors. The coating is sweet potato chocolate. The creme between the wafers is soy sauce powder, sweet potato powder, and black sesame powder. It smells heavily of sweet potato with a hint of black sesame. The first bite tastes like sweet potato cake with an aftertaste of black sesame. The next few bites reveal a lovely complex mix of the sweet and the savory with the soy and black sesame underscoring the sweet potato chocolate coating.
This is a very good approximation of the candied sweet potatoes and a great tasting bar. This is by far one of the best limited edition KitKats I've tried. I think they balanced the savory aspects with the sweet ones exceptionally well. The nice thing about it is that, while it's very good, it's not the sort of thing you want to scarf down. It's more in line with a delicacy you enjoy and savor, then can wait to enjoy again.
This bar is also reviewed at Sweet Pursuits.