Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Sanko Seika Almond Chips Sembei
As no one may have noted, I haven't been reviewing as much sembei (rice crackers) as I once did. It turns out that once you run the gamut of most of the common flavors, they tend to come out in reruns or reissues. That doesn't mean I still don't like them or eat them, but just that I don't find review-worthy fodder as often as I once did. Since these reviews get fewer comments than nearly any other type, I don't imagine there are armies of sembei afficionados out there weeping into their empty chip bowl at the dearth of rice cracker reviews.
When I chanced upon these, I got that old spark of excitement about trying something new. OK, I'll be honest, it's a pretty small spark as I get less juiced about sembei than say chocolates or baked goods, but this does carry two flavors which I adore: almond and black sesame. Let's face it, there are only so many fires that can burn within one at the idea of a cracker... unless she has the soul of a parrot... but let's not even go there.
Doing this review had me looking back over my experiences with Sanko Seika's offerings and it's a mixed bag. They make my absolute favorite sembei of all time, but a lot of their other options left me shrugging my shoulders. A lot of what I've had from them is interesting concepts and flavors that somehow didn't work out for my taste buds in the end for various reasons and received indifferent ratings.
Though the name is "almond chips", the black sesame is the shining star and dominates the cracker's flavor profile. There are 4 single-serving packets in the bag and each is 88 calories and contains 8 crackers of about 4 cm. (1.6 in.) in diameter. I paid about 150 yen ($1.90) for these at Seiyu supermarket. They are shiny and super crispy with a very satisfying texture. That varnished look is a clue to something about the taste though. These are very sweet and include dextrin, stevia and cocoa powder. I didn't expect them to be so sweet and was really hoping for something closer to a salty or savory sweet.
These aren't bad in any way. I liked them, but I wouldn't buy them again. If they cut the sweetness factor by about 50% and let more of the almond shine through in taste (I didn't taste it at all), I think these might be a repeat buy. As it is, I would only recommend them to someone who likes chips that are sweet without a sugary overtone. It turns out that this falls into the same pile as many of my other reviews of Sanka Seika's sembei. I give them an "A" for effort, and won't avoid their products in the future, but I'll keep my expectations appropriately low.