Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Glico 80-Calorie Monaka
I've often thought it would be interesting to create a blog devoted to low calorie, diet and health foods in Japan. Of course, I soon realized that such a blog could only update about once a week, if that, because there aren't many of such products. In America, people can create entire blogs devoted to low calorie, reduced fat, and healthy foods, but I'm hard-pressed to find anything in line with their review fodder except the odd zero calorie soft drink. I realize that eating "fake" foods in order to save calories isn't the best way to approach one's diet. However, I also think there is nothing wrong with the occasional indulgence that doesn't come with a hefty calorie price tag.
All of the ice cream in Japan is very rich and fatty. I rarely find a small cup of ice cream with less than 285 calories, and many are over 300. The only exception is Glico's line of 80-calorie ice milk treats. They sell small cups (110 ml.) of green tea, chocolate with chocolate pieces, rum raisin, and vanilla for 150 yen each ($1.69). These are difficult to find, but I can locate them at Natural Lawson's and one of the Family Mart convenience stores in range of my apartment. I have never seen them at local markets.
I was surprised to find that they also carry a low-calorie monaka ice milk sandwich. It is also about 150 yen, but has only 82 ml. of ice milk. According to their web site, they offer green tea and vanilla versions of these monaka, but I've never seen them. The vanilla version has red beans on it instead of the chocolate coating that this one has. All of these are part of what Glico calls their "calorie control" line.
One thing that one has to keep in mind when eating these types of foods is that the bar has to be lowered relative to other types of ice cream and ice milk. The question isn't how this stacks up to full-fat ice cream, but how good it is as a cold confection for 80 calories. Keep in mind that the first ingredient is polydextrose, a form of soluble fiber used to replace sugar. It also contains artificial sweeteners and tofu. Some of the ingredients aren't listed, however. The chocolate and monaka are simply listed as "chocolate coating" and "monaka".
When you give it a sniff, the first thing you smell is the monaka and that is like a cake cone. The monaka is rather soft and has absorbed a bit of moisture. I don't know if it might have been crisper if it hadn't sat in my freezer for a week, but my guess is that it wouldn't. Monaka aren't exceptionally crisp even when fresh.
The ice milk has a bit of a generic dairy flavor, reminiscent of powdered milk but not in a bad way. The chocolate coating is very sparse, but there is enough of it to add flavor. If you look at the picture above, you can see that the coating is fragmented rather than a solid sheet like I got in the Morinaga Jumbo Monaka bar. Mainly, it tastes cold and sweet with some bittersweet chocolate flavor. The flavors are not strong and I really wish there was a vanilla component to the ice milk.
This was fairly enjoyable. I can say that it was definitely worth 80 calories, but it won't do if you've got a hankering for some real ice cream. It will do if you have a craving for a cold treat. I would buy this again, but I can't say that it really "wowed" me so much as simply pleasantly satisfied me.