Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ototo Yakiniku Sauce Crackers

Yakiniku is small grilled bits of meat, usually beef. At most yakiniku restaurants, patrons are given raw, bite-sized bits of meat and vegetables and cook it themselves on a frill in the center of the table. They then dip the cooked bits in sauce. Personally, I'm no fan of beef and if I want to cook my own food, I'll stay at home and do it where it is cheaper.

These crackers, brought to us by the fine folks at Morinaga, were on sale at one of my local markets for about 100 yen (about a dollar). There are two 26-gram (about 1 oz.) foil packets in the box full of processed potato snacks with 115 calories in each packet. There are two varieties at present, a plain salted version and these ones which are flavored with yakiniku sauce.

Since I've never had yakiniku, I've never had the sauce. I did some research and the sauce is typically flavored with soy sauce, garlic, apples, and sesame. The ingredients list bears out some of this (apple powder, garlic powder, soy sauce), but some of the flavoring is buried under the catch-all ingredient of "seasoning powder". These crackers smell very strange to me. I can't begin to distinguish the flavors by scent nor can I describe it in a way that others can relate to if they haven't had the sauce (which I'm guessing smells like these crackers). I can only say that it doesn't smell appetizing to me.

The crackers themselves are in sea animal shapes (shark, squid, shrimp, etc.) and are reminscent of oyster crackers in that they are small and hollow. The difference is that these are paper thin and made of potato. They are extremely fragile and brittle. This makes them super crunchy. The easily fall apart into little shards in your mouth. There's something about how brittle they are and how they break apart which is singularly unsatisfying. This may be because of their size or because they are so thin, but I didn't care much for the texture.

The taste is odd as well. I think that there is the taste of overheated potato in there with some sort of weird aftertaste which I assume is the sauce. I get no sense at all of spiciness and very little salt, just this strange flavoring. I keep thinking that the potato processing has added something nasty to these, but it could simply be that the sauce flavoring is very much not to my liking.

Given the cutesy design of the crackers and the box, I am guessing that these are designed for children rather than adults. Maybe that is why the spice is relatively bland and the crackers so small. I should also note that eating a reasonable portion of these gave me a stomachache. At this point in the review, I'm guessing that I don't need to say that I was not a fan of these and that I won't be buying them again.


Kelly said...

I bought these for Yasu recently as they had the Ebara sauce bottle on the front and he loves that sauce. It's actually a Korean marinade.

Ototo is a popular snack from his childhood and he's pretty fond of it. I have tried other flavours of Ototo like okonomiyaki and takoyaki and I like the crunchy biscuit.

We really enjoyed the flavour of these and they were very close to the the same marinade.

I guess if you're not familiar with the flavour or marinade it's hard to get used to the flavour in one go.

What do you do with the rest of packages of foods that you don't like? Do you send them to your sister?

Anonymous said...

I remember eating these as a kid. They are pretty much an "airy noting" with a crunch. I don't blame you for not liking them.

Orchid64 said...

Kelly: I don't know that I'd get used to it after multiple tries. It just wasn't my cup of tea, and it did give me a stomachache. It wasn't that I couldn't eat it or felt it was awful, but it just had something I didn't like and nothing that I did. To each their own though. I can see where this would be something kids remember from childhood fondly though. There are foods I ate as a kid that I don't think I'd like so much now.

In the case of these, I sampled them three times to give them a fair shake. First, I ate the whole small package over two days (and got sick). Then, I waited about 3 weeks and sampled from the second package and still was no fan and threw away the rest. If I don't finish something and it is still wrapped, I set it aside and give it to someone at my former office eventually.

theskinnyplate: I kind of wish I'd bought the regular salt ones instead. I think they would have been what you said - an airy nothing, which would have been better than this!

Thanks for the comments!