Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Grilled Cheese Sembei (Camembert)
Sometimes I feel like I'm cheating doing a snack review blog and eating things which are flavored with cheese. My readers might expect that I'll review weird or exotic items because I'm in Japan, land of the weird (and to some "exotic"). Cheese is about as safe a flavor as one can choose. Still, could anyone who likes cheese (and what sort of dairy heretic doesn't like cheese?) resist a grilled cheese rice cracker? Even if you could resist, I couldn't as cheese just so happens to be the boss of me. That's right, I'm a dairy bitch.
I found this small (1.1 oz./32 grams) bag of yaki cheese sen (grilled cheese rice crackers) at a 7-11 convenience store for 105 yen ($1.12). This particular 7-11 was far afield for me. It never ceases to surprise me that shops which are part of the same chain stock different items and that a snack I can find at the 7-11 30 minutes from my apartment aren't stocked in the one 5 minutes from it.
The big wedge of melty Camembert on the front of the package leads you to think this might be a mild cheese experience, but it's actually quite savory and on the strong side. The cheese is concentrated on one side of the crackers, but it's still immensely flavorful. The crackers themselves are what is called "soft" sembei, which means that they're slightly airy and puffy, but still quite crispy. This particular style is my preferred type.
Some of the cheese sembei I've had before has had a bit of a "burnt" cheese flavor to it, but this has been avoided in this case. These are pungent and nicely cheesy with a developed taste. This is probably aided by the various flavorings including soy sauce, pork and chicken, and fish powder. Note that none of these flavors is strong or profound, but I think they boost the savory nature and deepen the flavor.
This is another winner from Kameda Seika, a company which makes some of the best rice crackers in Japan. I would definitely buy these again. I not only like the sembei, but I think the serving size is very good at 146 calories for a single serving with about 11 medium-size (about 6 cm./2.4 in.) crackers. This is a great treat to have on hand with a soda or, if you're the imbibing type, beer.