Monday, July 13, 2009
Vessel in the Fog Milk Chocolate
There's a brand of jam in the U.S. called Smuckers. Their tagline is, "with a name like Smuckers, it has to be good." I'm not sure what a name like "Vessel in the Fog" means something has to be, but I'm sure that it is a memorable one. And honestly, I have absolutely no clue why this bar is named the way it is.
I first saw this bar when I arrived in Japan in 1989 and I have only the vaguest recollection at having sampled it once. The truth is that I haven't seen it around in shops for a very long time. I'm not sure if it was removed from the market for awhile or if it simply wasn't marketed in Tokyo. However, I will note that I couldn't locate this bar on Lotte's web site. It seems to have been supplanted by the Airs brand for air bubble-filled chocolate and Ghana as a basic chocolate bar.
When I ran across this bar for 98 yen (about 95 cents) at a drug store, I experienced a wave of nostalgia. It seems peculiar to me that I've been in Japan long enough to have nostalgic feelings about anything here. Still, with a name like "Vessel in the Fog", I had to revisit it for a review.
The bar is in the same sort of thin cardboard box that Ghana bars are sold in and the bar is wrapped in foil. It smells like sweet milky chocolate. The bar is marginally sectioned. The indentations are so shallow on the relative thick (1 cm/.4 in.) bar that it's pretty much impossible to break it along the lines, as my picture demonstrates.
The bottom of the box mentions that a "micro grind method" is used to produce a super smooth chocolate. The chocolate is quite smooth if you allow it to sit on your tongue and dissolve, though I'm not sure if it is any smoother than other Lotte chocolate bars. The texture of the bar is interesting because the air bubbles are quite a bit bigger than those in Airs chocolates. I refrigerated my bar since chocolate has been going soft at room temperature in my place these days and biting into the bar feels a little like a crunch bar as you break through the catacombs created by the bubbles.
I like this bar a lot. It's a little bittersweet for milk chocolate and has a hint of coffee, but doesn't have as strong a lingering aftertaste as some other pedestrian Japanese chocolates. It's smooth and fatty so it's no surprise that this 48 gram bar (1.7 oz.) has 270 calories despite being full of air bubbles. The bar is generously sized so you can probably be satisfied with eating as little as a third of it if you're being judicious. I'd definitely buy this again if I had the option to do so and I was in the mood for some plain chocolate.