Monday, November 30, 2009
This KitKat has been around for quite awhile and my review is late to the party. There are only so many KitKats I can get to, and I'd already done one of the cookie plus versions in a previous review. This one seemed less interesting than the whole grain one that I tried before. I'm not really inspired by the idea of mashed vanilla sandwich cookies (minus their filling) added to a KitKat. There are actually more "Cookie plus" varieties lurking about, but trying every single KitKat out there is less of a priority to me than continuing to sample a large variety of snacks and foods.
I found this box of mini bars at a local discount snack shop for about 130 yen ($1.43). There are 10 bars, each 4 cm. x 1.5 cm (1.6 in. x .6 in.). They're little more than two modest bites and I feel really wasteful eating more than one at a time because I'm leaving a trail of wrappers.
These smell like bittersweet chocolate, which is no surprise because that's the biggest flavor component. They are rather unlike conventional KitKats, which are milk chocolate. The cookies don't add much taste, but they do add texture and sweetness. There's a sugary graininess to them which is quite satisfying. I'm not sure if that's the texture of the cookies, but it probably is.
I really liked these because they weren't too sweet and the texture was even more satisfying than usual. If you like bittersweet chocolate, give these a try. I think that these are a much better variation than some of the white chocolate-based strange varieties that Nestlé Japan has come up with. They're not as exotic, but they are tastier.
This KitKat was also reviewed at Jen's KitKat blog.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
One long shopping trip and I'm set for review fodder for a very long time. The above picture is a sneak preview of things to come. Just a little extra for Thanksgiving weekend.
I hope all you Americans had a great one, and enjoyed some turkey for me! I can't buy it here in Japan.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Japanese food has a reputation for freshness and Japanese people value it, yet you do find that there are a fair number of foods that are prepared and sold in a state which is anything but. I'd been eyeballing this variety pack of manjuu (various bean cakes) for quite some time, but I'd been resisting it because I knew they were going to be dry. These were relatively cheap for the number of very small cakes (18 for 250 yen/$2.78), so I figured I'd take the plunge and give them a try. I'm trying to branch out into snack areas that I haven't covered much and manjuu has been rather neglected.
I'm not sure what the target demographic is supposed to be for this product or how people are supposed to regard them. Do you keep them on hand for guests who pop in for tea? Do you keep them around for your kids or grandma to have as a snack with tea? I can say that they aren't high quality enough to serve formally or to give as gifts. That doesn't mean they are bad, but it does mean that they are second-rate, consumer-level manjuu.
The manufacturer, Marukyo Seika, makes a variety of bean-filled treats including selling all of the components of this variety pack in single flavor packs. If one of these is a hit, I can then buy a whole bag of them if I like. One of the appealing points of these cakes is supposed to be the appearance. You'll note that 3 of them have fairly nice designs and the ones which are ugly lumps stay hidden from view on the package cover.
Red bean mix:
This is the biggest of the cakes at a little over 5 cm (about 2 in.) in diameter. There are only 2 of them in the package and each is 100 calories. After you get to the inside, it smells of red beans. Yes, that's quite a surprise. The beans are very dense and moist and have a pleasant taste. The cake is appreciably, but not overly, sweet and the exterior cake has almost no flavor of its own and its texture is indistinguishable from the moist bean filling. The beans are very finely mashed and densely packed so this would be good for someone who doesn't like the texture of beans but enjoys the flavor.
This is designed to resemble a chestnut with a top that has been brushed with egg or some other wash to make the top brown more heavily and tiny seeds across the bottom. There were only two of these in the package as they were some of the larger cakes. The smell you get, even when it is cut open, is most of the cake exterior which is thin, pliable and flavorless. The interior is very dry. It's almost like densely packed powder with some somewhat firmer bits of chestnut in it. The flavor was very good, modestly sweet chestnut flavor, but the texture too dry. This was 74 calories and 5 cm (1.9) wide at the longest points.
This variety had a more cake-like exterior with a better texture and it seemed to also carry some classic flavors like butter (or margarine). It was slightly sweeter than the aforementioned chestnut one, but had a somewhat less dry interior. For those who are squeamish about bean cake flavors and texture, this might be a better bet. This is blandly nice. There were 4 of these and each is a mere 43 calories. They are 5 cm x 3 cm (1.9 in. x 1.1 in.).
This doesn't smell like anything in particular. It has a cake-like smell and the texture is moist and almost doughy. It's quite sweet with a subtle bean flavor. These are only 40 calories because they're so tiny, about 3 cm (1.2 in.) in diameter.
This looks, smells, and is the same size as the soba manju. It's also only 40 calories. The main difference is the very subtle green tea flavor which tends to come across mainly as a roasted flavor. It's actually pretty good. It's a green tea manju for those who don't like strong green tea flavors. Like the soba version, it's also quite moist and has a doughy texture.
I had the highest hopes for the chestnut one, but it actually was one of the least appealing due to its parched interior and somewhat leathery exterior shell. The one I liked best was the soba manju because it was moistest and had a pleasant flavor. The second best one was the red bean mix, again, because of the moister interior.
This was a nice enough mix, though definitely not the best bean cake experience one can have. You can get better off of the same shelves in the market that these are sold on, but you can't necessarily get the same low price, longevity and variety. The two types of bean cakes that I reviewed previously were much better than these, but they also cost a lot more and are not built to last. I probably wouldn't buy these again, but that's only because I have a lot of other better options. It's not that these are bad in any way. They simply aren't great.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
When I was a kid and wanted something sweet, I would sometimes nibble just a little brown sugar from a teaspoon. I loved the flavor, but you could so quickly get too much both from the intense sweetness and the heavy molasses flavor. Like salt, sugar is one of those things that, when used in the right amount, is a thing of great beauty, but too much is a disaster. I wish I could say that the Sugarhouse brown sugar candy was a thing of beauty, but it's definitely more of a train wreck.
When I bought this at an upscale market called "Queen's Isetan" for about 140 yen (about $1.45), I was lured by the resemblance to fudge that the picture on the front had. You'd think that this is a mistake that I'd stop making after so many years in Japan. Things here are not what they resemble back home. The bottom line is that this is little more than hydrated, formed blocks of brown sugar. The taste is just like those teaspoons of brown sugar I'd nibble at as a child. It's intensely sweet and overbearing, and can only appeal to people who like to eat sugar straight from the bag. If that sort of thing appeals to you, you can stick this packet in your pocket (which is one of its selling points) and put away 362 calories of brown sugar nastiness.
I tried to do some research on the company that made this, Sugarhouse, but they are too small-time to even have their own web site. The only thing I could find were a lot of references to the location of the company through various mapping web sites. I'm not sure what else they make besides this candy, but I hope they've got something else going for them because I can't imagine this is going to be a success for them.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
When I first came to Japan, I didn't understand anything and there was all of this cryptic food in stores. Generally speaking, Western folks spend their first few years eating a lot of junk because they have no idea what sort of surprises await them when they pick up a box of something or other. Depending on your early experiences with these mystery foods, you might be encouraged to continue to sample more of the same, or never touch such things again.
In the spirit of sampling those mystery foods that have been on my back burner for a long time, I picked up this box of "Nakano kombu". Kombu, incidentally, is the Japanese word for edible kelp. When I saw this box nestled among the packages of caramels, knock-off M & M's, and other small treats packaged for kids, I figured that this was going to be some sort of faux kelp that was actually candy. When I opened the box, I found out I couldn't have been more wrong.
Inside the box are about a dozen leather-like strips of dried seaweed coated with some sort of starch to keep them from sticking together. The ingredients list for this includes two artificial sweeteners, Sorbitol and Stevia, as well as fish flake flavoring. I can tell you that this tastes as good as it sounds. Kelp + fish flavor + sugar. Mmm, mmm, good.
I try very hard to give everything I sample a chance and to eat at least one good bite, if not two or four, but this was the most vile thing I have ever eaten. I couldn't even eat one thin slice. The strips are small, about 7 cm x 2 cm (2.8 in. x .8 in.), but I had to spit it out and drink half a cup of tea to get the vile taste out of my mouth. It's like chewing on a piece of grass with sugar and a bit of soy sauce seasoned fish. I can't really tell you about the texture because I couldn't bear it for that long, but the smell is like extremely rank and musty clothes.
I can't believe this cost 100 yen ($1.12) for a 15 gram (.5 oz.) box at the local market. I also can't believe this is supposed to be a kid's snack unless parents who don't really care about their kids buy it (that's a joke, incidentally). I say this based on the fact that it was in the candy section with all of the other kid's snacks. The company that makes this, Nakano Bussan, says they've been making this for 70 years. I can't believe they can make a profit with this. This product occupies a position of honor as the worst thing I have ever sampled in Japan. It's going to take a lot to find something more disgusting than this. I wish I had a vomiting sumo rating to give this.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
When I was working in an office, I used to pick up plain Jaga Rico potato sticks as a substitute for potato chips. I'm not sure why I felt they were better for me than chips, but I believe that eating a whole cup of these tends to set you back about 290 calories (for 58 grams/2 oz.) whereas a bag of chips is about 450. I'm guessing it was pure portion control rather than any actual reduction in calories that made these less calorically dense. These sticks are hollow, so you get the illusion of eating more of them while consuming less volume.
This line of products by Calbee portrays a cartoon giraffe as its mascot. If you go to their web site, you can see various permutations of their cute long-necked buddy. I'm guessing they chose a giraffe because the long neck on it is reminiscent of the long, straw-like potato snacks.
Previously, I reviewed the umeboshi (sour plum) jaga rico potato sticks and was unimpressed. It wasn't that there was anything wrong with them, but rather that the flavor was so weak that I could barely taste the sour plum. I found this tuna mayonnaise flavor at a local supermarket for 128 yen ($1.44). There seemed to be quite a bloom in flavors, but this was the one I was most attracted to because I love tuna salad.
An illustration on the cup says that the tuna flavor has been enhanced on this, but you can't smell it when you give it a sniff. At first, I tasted the same sort of greasy flavor that comes along with the plain jaga rico flavor, then a mayonnaise flavor. The tuna comes through only at the very end as a faint aftertaste. I'm not sure how much they enhanced the tuna taste, but it wasn't enough. These are super crunchy, and not too salty.
They're not bad, but just like the umeboshi potato sticks of the same brand, these just don't carry enough flavor. That greasy taste that is carried at the start is a bit off-putting as well. I didn't hate these by a long shot, but I didn't love them. I'll certainly slowly make my way through the foil-lined cup of these sticks, but I wouldn't buy them again.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Gundam is one of those parts of Japanese culture that I constantly see, but never read about. Every Japan blogger in Tokyo has taken pictures of the giant Gundam robot that was set up somewhere in the city, and many reported on the marriage that was done near the robot statue thingy.
For those who are as ignorant of Gundam as I was before I had to research for this post, it's an animated series about big ass robots. It's so integrated into Japanese culture that it has been featured on postage stamps. It is brought to us by the same people who created Godzilla. Gundam has always struck me as a real male interest type of thing, but what do I know? There may be legions of female fans out there who find all of the potent phallic imagery of guns and tall, erect robots appealing.
Displays for Tirol Gundam candies have been showing up in 7-11 convenience stores and I decided to sample one of each flavor. The picture above is of just two of the package designs. There are far more pictures, but only two types of candy. One is American cherry and the other is "white and coffee". I'm sure Gundam fans might want to collect all of the wrappers, but I'm really just interested in the candy itself. These are Tirol premium size candies that cost about 40 yen each and are 1 inch (2.54 cm) square in size.
White and Coffee:
I refrigerated my candies and the white chocolate and coffee one fragmented rather badly when I cut it in half for a picture. It's a pretty straightforward candy made up of white chocolate full of little coffee bean fragments.You can really smell the coffee when you give it a whiff. The white chocolate is soft and sweet and the coffee beans are crunchy and bitter, as one would expect. Despite being a simple combination, it's actually pretty good. The sweetness of the white chocolate is offset well by the strength and harshness of the coffee flavors. This one is 64 calories, which makes it about 10 calories more than the average Tirol premium chocolate.
The American cherry is filled with a sticky, thick cherry jelly. It smells a lot like Cellas chocolate-covered cherries. The chocolate is dark and bitter and the center is sweet, but not overly sweet, cherry flavoring. There's no alcohol flavoring like many chocolate covered cherry confections. The combination is intense, but good. The chocolate dominates just enough to keep any cough syrup notes in the cherry center well at bay. This chocolate was 54 calories.
Of the two, clearly, the cherry is better for me. I love chocolate covered cherries and used to get a box of them every year for Christmas. I might stock up on several of these as a substitute and keep them in my refrigerator for the holidays. I think these are both very good consumer chocolates. I like that both have high contrast flavors and think that fans of either coffee bean candies or cherry chocolates might enjoy them.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Sequoia wafer bars (made by Furuta) have a lot to offer which is attractive to me. For one thing, I like the size and the bars look great and are nicely packaged. It's about the size of two and a half KitKat fingers combined. It also carries a fair amount of heft to it and has a more prominent wafer component than a KitKat. It's also cheap. One bar is between 40-60 yen. I got mine for 53 yen (about 50 cents) at a Family Mart near my apartment.
The main problem with the Sequoia bar is that the cheapness carries a lot of the same issues that cheap chocolate worldwide has. That is, it tends to mistake sweetness for good quality and flavor. I've tried 4 types of Sequoia previously (chocolate, strawberry, caramel, and salty vanilla), and the only one I was really pleased with was the caramel one. My expectations were pretty low of this bar.
Unfortunately, this was an okay candy bar, but not great. A really good tiramisu candy experience should have complexity to it. It should offer the coffee, chocolate, and Mascarpone cheese flavors in layers. Since this bar has a chocolate shell, a white chocolate filling, and wafers, you'd think it'd be possible to pull this off. Unfortunately, it all just tastes like coffee-flavored chocolate. If it was good, smooth, and deep coffee flavor, that'd probably be enough, but it tastes like instant coffee chocolate.
On the bright side, the texture of the bar is great. The chocolate is smooth and the wafers are fresh and crispy. The inner white chocolate is a little soft. The only thing is that my front teeth hurt after eating half of it from where the sugar built up on my teeth. It's that sweet.
If you like really sweet chocolate covered wafers and cheap coffee chocolates, this might really do something for you. If you want something with some depth of flavor, you might want to look elsewhere.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
There are two ways to look at natural food like raisins or dried cranberries. You can consider that they are merely meant to be components of some more complex dish or you can see them as snacks unto themselves. In the case of the aforementioned items, they clearly fall into the category of being both. In the case of today's product for review, my sense of whether or not this was meant to be a snack is rather muddled.
On the side which indicates "snack", I look at the fact that this is sold in quite a small foil pack (35 grams/1.2 oz.). There's also the fact that the chestnuts are next to preserved foil-packed chunks of sweet potato that I have bought and eaten as a snack on occasion before. I think these things should be in snack happy shape simply because of their size and presentation.
That being said, I think that both the sweet potato and chestnuts are meant to be used as a garnish on rice or as a component in a more complex dish. The web site for this product features various recipes, some of which portray this as a garnish and others that show it as an integrated component. That being said, I think I can treat these as a snack just like I did the sweet potatoes and would regard other types of nuts. You can decide for yourself if this is misplaced or not. I like chestnuts, and I wanted to give these a chance as a healthy snack. They only have 66 calories and have 1.4 grams of protein.
I got these for 100 yen ($1.11) at a local convenience store. I'm guessing they are so cheap not only because the portion is small, but also because they are from China. The web site says that they are organic and are baked and roasted using "infrared" techniques. I'm not sure what that means. I had never heard of this type of cooking before, but apparently it's all about reaching high temperatures quickly. It's supposed to be good for dense foods, but carries a risk of burning or charring. Since chestnuts are cooked in their shells, this is probably a safe, quick method for dealing with them.
The chestnuts themselves seem pretty bland and not too dissimilar from raw chestnuts, though the texture is much more palatable. When I lived in Pennsylvania, I used to pry open and eat raw chestnuts when I was a kid so it's a familiar flavor to me. Whatever the cooking method used for these, it didn't seem to impart much added flavor to the chestnuts. Their texture is fine, slightly firm, but crumbly. They are dry in the same way that a sweet potato is dry. The flavor is subtle and earthy, and screams for enhancement with sugar and vanilla or brandy.
These were fine, but completely a flat experience. They didn't work at all as a snack, but I think they'd be good if crushed, mashed, or chopped and added to oatmeal, rice pudding, etc. They just aren't going to work as a snack by themselves.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Caritz (カリッ) means "crisp" in Japanese and I have to give this snack credit for truth in advertising on that front. These things are crisp. The naming seizes on the one aspect which cannot be denied. It also says "oishii" which means "delicious" and this is a big, fat lie, at least in the case of these corn potage flavor ones.
Caritz are almost certainly a low rent rip-off of Cratz brand pretzel snacks by Glico. Both of them are small nubbins of flavored pretzel mixed with nuts. The big differences are that Cratz cost about 60% more, has more nuts in the mix, and tastes good. I paid 100 yen for Caritz at a local 99 yen shop because I was hoping it was going to be a cheaper alternative to Cratz (which I love in all of its forms), and you know what people say about getting what you pay for.
When I opened the bag of Caritz, it didn't smell right. In fact, it had an odd powdered milk mixed with rancid powdered cheese smell. Corn potage is a soup which is made with corn, milk, onion, and garlic. It's made with a chicken soup stock base. All of those flavors seem to be listed in the ingredients, but I didn't taste them. I only tasted whatever the cheese component of these is with a relatively weak corn flavor. The pretzels themselves also seem off. They're hard, but in a way that is closer to a bad crouton than a good pretzel. Dense pretzels can be good, but these weren't.
Perhaps I got a bad bag of these, but this was a truly disappointing experience. It's rare for a salted snack food to be so unappealing to me when it contains a lot of flavors which I like. There is just something about the powdered flavoring that hit me completely wrong and I definitely wouldn't buy these again. In fact, I'm so put off by this flavor of Caritz that I'm unlikely to try the other flavors unless I'm really bored or willing to take a risk.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Brand loyalty is a useful thing. You get an idea of whether or not a particular company's new products will be worth sampling or not based on knowing its brand's offering. This is something that you can easily take for granted when you're in your own culture and have lifelong experience with a company's line. For instance, we know what Hershey's chocolate tastes like, so we have some idea what every new chocolate will taste like because they use the same basic mix.
One of the continuing list of benefits of this blog is that I'm actually learning about and coming to know Japanese brands in a way I never would have before. I've learned that there are companies whose products I can rely on for certain things (Kameda Seika for sembei, for instance) and those who aren't likely to offer me a positive experience (Ito En for beverages). That's not to say everyone would find the brands falling into the same categories as I do, but just simply that this is how their respective formulas and recipes suit my tastes.
That being said, it's always nice to come across a new brand dealing in a type of snack I don't often frequent. One of those types of snacks is variety packs of traditional Japanese snacks. Part of the shelf at my local markets tends to be devoted to bags with a hodge-podge of individually wrapped bits of jelly candies, bean-filled monaka, and tiny marshmallow and cake treats. I don't review these for two reasons. One is that the quality of these variety packs tends to be low and the other is that reviewing them requires a tremendous amount of effort relative to dealing with individual treats. It takes me weeks sometimes to complete a variety pack review.
The company that produces these yuzu mochi treats, Tomatsu, is one of the manufacturers of these types of variety packs. They call them "mixes". I guess it's like a bridge mix type of idea only with a lot more red bean jam rather than nuts or chocolate. After perusing their site, I noticed that I don't really see much by them locally, which I believe is unfortunate.
These are roughly translated as "cakes", but what they really are are soft little blobs of pounded rice that are sweetened and have very tiny bits of candied yuzu in them. The citrus element (the yuzu - a Japanese citrus fruit which is between a grapefruit and an orange in taste) is reasonably pronounced without being overdone, as is the sweetness, though you can't really smell the yuzu when you give the mochi a sniff. Unlike some mochi, this is not painfully chewy. It's easy to bite off and there's little danger of choking on it. They're soft, and slightly heavy for their small size (roughly 1 inch/2.54 cm wide and slightly longer). These are a very well-made treat.
I really liked these. The flavor is very well balanced and the texture interesting. The only thing that kept this from being a "very happy sumo" rating is that they are dense on the calorie front. One of them is 49 calories and it is two small bites of pleasure. For the same number of calories, I could have two Hershey's kisses or for just ten calories more, I can have two Tirol chocolates. There's something distinctly unsatisfying about the calories on eating flavored rice cake being so high. Still, I would recommend these to anyone looking for yuzu treats, but especially if you also like mochi. I'd even consider giving these as souvenirs to friends back home if I felt their tastes were moderately varied.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Before I came to Japan, I had never heard of "royal milk tea." You find it sold in bottles in some refrigerator cases, at coffee and snack shops, and in vending machines both hot and cold. I'm not sure what is supposed to make this "royal", but what it really is is tea with loads of milk and sugar. I'm pretty sure that's what the British tend to give children to break them into tea drinking.
The odd thing about royal milk tea is that it is often portrayed as being British, and the packaging on this KitKat is playing up that particular image, but I couldn't find any reference to it in my research. I think it may actually be a Japanese thing. The closest thing in English tea culture that I came across was what is called "Builder's tea".
I will go on record saying that I love royal milk tea, but sometimes find the Japanese bottled versions too sweet and I have to be in the right mood to have one. Lipton makes some especially nice versions, but it can be like liquid candy. I rarely buy it because it has as much or more sugar in it than Coca-Cola. It's one of the few things that makes me think that one can contract a blood sugar disorder from drinking a beverage.
Given that royal milk tea is so sweet and full of dairy, it is an excellent candidate for a KitKat variation. While many white-chocolate-based KitKats are too sweet and this drowns out the flavors, it's difficult to over-sweeten and not hit the mark on royal milk tea. Being very sweet is what it is all about.
The bar smells of tea and has the same distinct flavor of the bottled teas you get in Japan. The tea flavoring is vaguely floral and not incredibly strong. As expected, the bar is very, very sweet and I think it'd be really hard to eat an entire box at once. By the end of the second finger, you throat will be burning if you don't have a little beverage on the side to wash it down.
Despite the intense sweetness of this, I liked it, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who hasn't had royal milk tea in Japan as it may be overwhelming.
Friday, November 13, 2009
There's something about a multi-pack that makes food more attractive. I'd normally refuse to buy a strawberry Sequoia bar, but seeing 3 of them for 100 yen (a dollar) at the local 99 yen shop lured me into an impulse buy. It must be the aesthetic of the repeated packages lined up so nicely. It helps that my husband will at least try almost anything that is strawberry flavored and sweet.
The main problem for my husband is that a lot of Japanese sweets aren't sweet enough. He's pretty much in line with the market that makes candy bars back home whereas I'm always whining about things being too much. At any rate, anything that is based on white chocolate has a higher chance of meeting his approval and a lower chance of meeting mine. With that in mind, let me say that he liked these quite a lot, and me, well, not so much.
A sniff of these bars revealed the vague smell of strawberries and sugar. The flavor was decently of strawberries, but it's very sweet. There's not quite enough of a tart strawberry edge to offset the sweetness. The texture was pleasant enough because the wafers were nice and crispy. The pink and white coating though was quite soft.
For my tastes, this was too mild on the strawberry front and too strong on the sweet chocolate going on. It reminded me quite a lot of the Senga Sengana KitKat, though it actually didn't possess the same throat burning sugary qualities. I wouldn't buy this again for myself, but if you love super sweet candy and strawberry, it may be something worth sampling.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
The Fuwa Fuwa cake marshmallows seem to be getting increased market penetration. They're showing up in more convenience stores and in greater varieties. Personally, I'm waiting for the day when the 10 packs of the original yellow bean filled ones show up. For now, I'll have to content myself with fishing the individual ones out of boxes by the cash register as an impulse buy at the last minute.
I have no idea why these are called "Fuwa Fuwa Cake" when they have nothing in common with a cake. The only reason I use that in my post's title is that that is the name it is given in Japanese on the package. We found these chocolate marshmallows at Natural Lawson's convenience store. Like the other varieties, it cost 53 yen (about 60 cents). The big difference between this one and the others that I have sampled is that nutritional information has been added to the back of the package. This one is 94 calories and has 2.4 grams of fat.
This smelled very mildly of cocoa powder before I cut it open for picture taking. The filling, which is like pudding, releases a much more intense scent. Upon tasting it, I discovered there's a good reason for this. The chocolate marshmallow has the same weak, unimpressive flavor that most flavored marshmallows have. The filling is where all of the "oomph" is in this. It is intense, high quality bittersweet chocolate. And don't underestimate the word "intense" here. It's powerfully chocolaty.
The marshmallow was fresh and had a good texture and was bland enough to encase the filling nicely. If you like strong bittersweet chocolate, you'll likely love this. If you're more of a milk chocolate fan, this may be a bit much for you. The quality can't be beat, and I think this is well worth trying again, if not visiting again.