Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Baked Mayonnaise Arare Sembei
When I reviewed the Mayo Mania corn snack, I talked about the fact that Japanese people adore mayonnaise to an almost scary extent. Lest you think that weird mayo snack was an anomaly, I bring you mayonnaise-flavored sembei from the fine folks at Kameda Seika. In fact, I had quite a snack spending spree at the market when I picked these up. It was like the new fall flavors for everyone were out and I had so much new stuff to try that I ended up loading up on new junk food.
Of course, part of the reason new flavors are out is that autumn is on our doorstep and that means chestnut and sweet potato treats will be out in full force. I'm not sure how mayonnaise figures into the fall equation, but maybe it has to do with getting fattened up for colder weather... not that the Japanese seem to get any fatter no matter what they eat. I don't know what the secret is, but let's say that I'm glad that this bag of sembei came in 6 (15 gram/.5 oz.) snack-size packets containing only 71 calories each. I do not have the Japanese metabolism for mayonnaise consumption.
Unfortunately, a half ounce really isn't much. The amount you see pictured above is the contents of one packet. The longest piece is about 4 cm. (1.5 in.) long and there are only about 6 of them per bag. Since these are "arare" type sembei, they are craggy and quite crunchy. The texture of these is very satisfying and they certainly do not feel baked in any way. They're greasy and left a residue on the tissue that I put them on for picture taking.
These smell like mayonnaise, though the scent isn't overwhelming. The first bite reveals the highest concentration of mayonnaise flavor, but these aren't like the Mayo Mania rings because those tasted like eating right out of the condiment jar. This is more of a mixed flavor and the mayonnaise taste becomes less prominent the more you eat. By the end of my packet, I was noticing the other seasonings and the familiar taste of sembei more than the mayo. These are nicely savory and include the flavors of parsley, cheese, and vinegar.
I really liked these, and had to resist opening up another packet. That being said, I can't give these a "very happy" rating because I think that mayonnaise is a flavor which I can't quite get that excited about. I also think that, while I'd buy these again, I wouldn't do so often because I could only see turning to these if I was in a particular mood. If you adore mayonnaise though, these are certainly going to please you. If you like it, you might want to sample these once for fun. You'll almost certainly like them unless you hate mayo.