Thursday, March 12, 2009
Tirol Dango Chocolate
With White Day (March 14, the companion to Valentine's Day in Japan) coming up, lots of sweets in pastel packing are crowding onto store shelves so that men can give women who gave them chocolates on February 14 a return gift. I can't say for certain that Tirol had White Day in mind with these, but it seems likely.
These candies are meant to imitate flavors used in a Japanese snack called dango. Dango are little balls made of rice flour. They're similar to mochi (rice pounded into stretchy goo) both in composition and texture. You can buy them in different colors and flavors and with different sauces.
These candies are sold in a long package of 9 pieces (3 of each flavor) for 99 yen ($1.01). Each candy is in its own wrapper and the packages are perforated so you can easily separate them from the rest. This makes them easy to distribute to others while keeping them in an airtight package. The three flavors are uguisu, mitarashi, and sakura. Each of them have a "mochi" center which is a little like a gummi candy, though with a slightly different texture. Each candy is 33 calories.
"Uguisu" in Japanese means "nightengale", and no, these are not bird-flavored. Nightengales are green and brown and uguisu dango is named for the color similarity, not the taste. That being said, I've never tasted a nightengale and have little desire to try. The uguisu candy is, unsurprisingly the green one. It smells vaguely of green tea and white chocolate. The flavor is mild green tea, a hint of soy, and white chocolate. It's pretty sweet, but not cloying.
"Mitarashi" dango is made with a sweet soy sauce, but I didn't have much of a sense of soy from this candy. It smells like white chocolate. When I bit into it, I got a strong hit of what seemed like bitter orange flavor from the syrup. The flavor mellows out then becomes very sweet at the end. There is definitely more depth and variation to this particular candy compared to the others.
"Sakura", as many people already know, is cherry so the flavor of this was no surprise. The sakura was the same as the Tirol premium sakura candy. That is, it's perfume-like and like eating cherry soap. I'm thinking that I'll be giving the remainder of the sakura ones away to unsuspecting victims.
All of the "mochi" centers are similarly chewy though the mitarashi one is somewhat tougher and thicker than the sakura and uguisu ones. I'm guessing this has to do with the syrup on top. It's possible that the recipe has to be firmer to stop the syrup from being absorbed into the gummi mochi center.
I wouldn't recommend this multi-pack because the cherry is so awful that you're throwing away one-third of the value. The uguisu is good for green tea lovers who don't want the flavor to be overbearing and the mitarashi is complex and interesting, though neither is particularly addictive. If the latter two were available as single purchase flavors for 10 yen or as premium flavors, I'd say they were worth a sample, but otherwise I'd say skip this one.