Monday, January 25, 2010
Yamagata Sakurambo (Cherry) KitKat
One of the things you can either love or hate about life in Japan are regional foods designed to be area-specific souvenirs. If you travel a fair amount, you can show your coworkers and friends that you thought enough of them to bring back something unique from the place that you visited. They can enjoy a treat which they know could not be purchased anywhere else.
Since I don't travel much in Japan anymore, I haven't been reviewing the regional KitKat variations. That being said, I live in Tokyo and haven't done the Tokyo-specific ones either, but that's because you don't see them just anywhere. Mainly, people get them at Narita airport. I didn't get these KitKats by traveling to Yamagata. I got them because Helen at La Vida Loca very generously bought them and sent them to me. Otherwise, well, I wouldn't be reviewing my very first Japanese regional KitKat in the history of this blog. Thank you so much, Helen!
Since this is my first experience with regional KitKats, I was impressed by the packaging. The boxes are set up so that you can easily open it and present the bars for people around the office to take. The box is also a nice size because it's compact and easy to carry in a briefcase or backpack. It neatly stores 12 mini bars. While most of the writing is in Japanese, there is English written on one side which says "Tohoku Limited" and " Japanese Cherry Flavor", so they are clearly designed for foreign tourists to buy as souvenirs as well as for domestic travelers.
The bars smell pleasantly of cherry and have a good mild cherry flavor with a bit of a hit of citric-acid-like bite at the end. It's not too sweet or flowery. The fact of the matter is that I like vaguely floral flavors in some fruit-flavored sweets and this strikes a good balance for my tastes in that regard. It's enough for interest, but not enough to make you think you're noshing on a bar of soap. While these bars were similar to the previous limited edition Sakurambo KitKats, they aren't exactly the same. I think the tart finish at the end of the non-Yamagata variety was a bit more intense and these are a little sweeter.
I would definitely recommend picking up a box of these if you find yourself in Yamagata. I think they'd make a beautiful and tasty souvenir for folks back home. The fact that Japan is associated with cherry blossoms and these are cherry flavor is icing on the cake.