Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Kinako Mochi Ice Milk Bar
Kinako mochi, along with yuzu, is quite the fad these days. This suits me just fine as it's generally a good combination. The outside of this ice milk bar's package shows you a cutaway of the bar with the mochi generously winking at you from inside. Far be it from me to ignore the advances of a flirtatious frozen treat.
The manufacturer is "Marunaga", which sounds like a name intentionally meant to sound like monster confectioner Morinaga, but I am almost certainly wrong about any attempt to sucker people into thinking this is made by a company that has more brand name recognition because the Marunaga has been around since 1962. It makes a variety of ice cream products, many of which are made with traditional Japanese ingredients like red beans (anko), chestnuts (marron), and green tea (matcha). I've never noticed their products before, but I can't say that I've scrutinized the ice cream aisle intently. Their "flagship" products are manju frozen dairy products. "Frozen dairy products" means that they make ice milk rather than ice cream.
The package says that the outside is "chocolate coating", but it has no actual chocolate flavor unless it's white chocolate. The bar smells noticeably, but not too strongly of toasted soy flour (kinako). The first bite is pleasantly sweet and tastes of kinako. The mochi portion is visible after the first bite, but it's too close to the center to taste or detect at first.
A few bites in, you experience the mochi, which has little flavor, but is pleasantly soft and slightly chewy. Mochi can be too gummy or chewy and I imagine it has to be specially formulated to keep it soft and pleasant when it's frozen. In fact, if anything, this is borderline at being too slimy and resembling a certain bodily fluid, but it luckily doesn't jump over the line. Nobody wants to feel like they're consuming a mucous-filled ice milk bar, after all.
The sweetness level is just right on this and the kinako flavor isn't too overpowering. The ice milk itself is a weak point though. It has little flavor of its own, but that's not a problem since the other flavors are more interesting and they don't need competition. The main thing is that the ice milk suffers from some crystallizing and has the texture of cheap dairy products. You can see crystals in the detailed shots above if you look carefully.
I liked this, and I'd seriously consider buying it again, but I'd have to be in a particular mood. This has a lot of calories (260) and portion control is difficult as it's harder to wrap the remainder of an ice milk bar up and place it in the freezer for later without making a mess or risking freezer burn. Though this was enjoyable, if I were going for something cold and creamy, I'd be more likely to opt for Morinaga's vanilla ice cream sandwich because it's real ice cream, has fewer calories and is easier to put away part of for future consumption. However, the flavor of this bar is more interesting than the mundane vanilla ice cream sandwich.
This was also reviewed on the Daily Yamazaki.