Thursday, August 12, 2010
Bakauke Tomato Curry Sembei
Much to my surprise, tomato is coming on as one of the summer's hottest flavors. Tomato gelatin is on offer in convenience stores, for instance. I'm not sure who decided it would be the fruit du jour in the summer of 2010, but I think they made a good choice. I love tomato. When I was a kid, I used to eat them as a hand fruit. Yes, I was a strange kid. I wonder if tomato may be touted as the flavor for summer because it contains lycopene and that is supposed to help your skin handle UV rays. Of course, I'm probably giving the food manufacturers too much credit.
Given my love of tomato, I snapped up this bag of Bakauke (Befco) tomato curry sembei when I saw it for a mere 139 yen ($1.58) at Okashi no Machioka. The bag has 15 medium-size crackers at 34.4 calories each. These are the sort of super crispy, deep fried sembei which are meant to help a person drink more alcohol by putting more fat in the stomach (and on it, most likely). Frankly, I don't favor this variety in general because the frying oil is often a bit overbearing in the flavor profile, but you never know until you try.
The front of the bag tells us that there are 29 spices in these. A list of all of the spices is not given in the ingredients. I'm sure it's a trade secret or something, but tomato powder, chicken extract, wheat germ, Sucralose, and sugar are included.
The crackers are pebbly and crisp. They do smell like frying oil and baked rice with the barest hint of some sort of spicy smell. The first taste didn't reveal much of anything except the usual oil and sembei flavor. The second hinted more strongly at tomato with a whisper of curry. I was really disappointed that these were so bland when there is such promise in a stronger flavor from both tomato and curry.
I think this is the sort of thing where eating a lot at once might intensify your ability to perceive the flavors, but two crackers at once is my general limit. I was really disappointed that these were only a little better than plain sembei. That doesn't make them bad at all. They're still crispy and salty and good quality crackers. They just aren't very flavorful for something which promises 29 spices. I enjoyed finishing the bag, but I wouldn't buy another.