Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sanko Seika Cheese Almond Sembei

Yeah, I took the picture awhile ago. I didn't eat expired sembei!

If you visit sites frequented by food snobs, they'd have you believe that we can will ourselves to enjoy "good" food, and that those who dislike a particular food can learn to enjoy it. I would say that is probably true, but the same can be said of junk food. I never thought I'd like something which is made with processed cheese, but I've found that frequent exposure has opened me up to its dubious qualities.

These particular sembei have been around for decades in Japan. I've always rejected them because of the way in which the almond seems glued onto the cracker with a plastic-looking dollop of processed cheese. Years of roasted almond deprivation due to the high cost of them in Japan and the relative rarity of any but blanched varieties compelled me to give these a try.


You can buy this particular type of sembei almost anywhere because it is relatively ubiquitous. I got mine at Okashi no Machioka for about 150 yen ($1.76), but I've also seen them at 100-yen shops so you can get them in a wide range of prices. Each bag has 24 tiny little crackers about the size of a quarter or 100-yen coin. At only 14 calories a cracker, you can eat quite a few without waistline worries. It also helps that the almonds are delivering some protein and good fats to balance out the carbohydrates in the cracker.

These smell like all of their major components: processed cheese, almond and sembei. The texture is good with the crispy rice cracker with a crunchy almond and a soft dollop of processed cheese. The mix is really quite satisfying. The almond's flavor is enhanced by being roasted and the cheese feels cool on the tongue. The flavor is also very mixed with a little bit of soy sauce flavor on the rice cracker, a bit of the processed cheese flavor, and a lot of almond. The almond shines more strongly the more you eat and the cheese fades into the background.

If you regard processed cheese as an evil to be avoided in all its forms, you won't like these. Otherwise, I can't recommend them strongly enough. I really liked these and have bought 3 bags at various times already. If I didn't have so much junk around to eat at any given time, I'd try and keep a bag of these on hand most of the time for light snacking with soft drinks. The mix of cheesy flavor with almond and salty sembei is a great combination.

6 comments:

Ikkin-bot said...

Do you have a problem with the almond saying on the top? My friend bought a bag and she had to pick all the almonds out of the bottom.

Rodzilla said...

I've actually had these! Your blog actually influenced me to search for a Japanese grocer in my area, and these were one of the snacks I picked up. I think they're great as well and I love that they are individually wrapped.

sarahsyed78 said...

Ive got one of these in front of me right now but im too scared to try it...

hello dooby

Orchid64 said...

There's nothing to fear! :-)

Ami Mizuno said...

May I know is this cracker halal? or does it have any suspicious ingredients that Muslim couldn't eat? Could anyone advice 'coz I got it as a present from my boss but I am hesitated to eat it. But it certainly look yummy! ('coz I like almond)

Orchid64 said...

Hi, Ami. I'm afraid that I don't know if this is halal. My guess is that it is not since Japanese food manufacturers don't tend to worry about handling food in a manner which respects various religious concerns. Also, pork flavoring and the use of pork is fairly common in Japan (in salted snacks) so I would never assume that any savory product did not have contact with pork flavoring or at least that equipment used to produce such foods didn't include pork.

I'm sorry that I can't answer your question definitively, but I can only say that I have never seen the word "halal" or "kosher" on any product that was made by a Japanese company.