Monday, March 18, 2013

Dydo Yuzu Lemon Cider

Readers may have noticed that I haven't reviewed many Japanese beverages since returning to the U.S. This isn't because I haven't had access. It's because they are incredibly expensive as imports at Japanese markets. The average price hovers between $2.50 and $3.00 for soft drinks, and that's a pretty penny for liquid refreshment. A drink has to be pretty compelling for me to fork over that sort of scratch.

This drink won a rare spot on my review blog because it contains yuzu, that blessed citrus fruit that tastes like a cross between a lemon and a grapefruit. It has enough bitterness and sourness to be interesting, but tends to be coupled with other flavors or be subtle enough to be palatable. In fact, the last night I spent in Japan, I had my one and only sip of an alcoholic beverage at Akiyoshi yakitori restaurant because it was made with yuzu. I have to say that it was delicious (but I still only tasted it), and part of the reason I wanted to try this was my memory of how good that extremely mild mixed drink was. I think it was like what the Japanese call "chuhai", which is usually rather like a wine cooler in potency though not in composition.

This is a zero calorie beverage, which means it is made with artificial sweeteners. In this case, it's maltitol (first ingredient) and sucralose (last ingredient). I'm not especially sensitive to such sweeteners, but I'm sure those who are would be pretty put off by their presence in this. Dydo also makes another version of this, which I believe contains sugar and I know is sold hot. I used to see the hot version in convenience stores in Tokyo in winter. I thought I might try it, but never got around to it. This is a bit of a consolation prize for what I missed.

Obviously, I didn't expect this to taste like a mixed drink. I expected it to taste like yuzu and lemon. Unfortunately, it didn't taste like much of anything. While it does have an extremely subtle pleasant lemon taste with a whisper of yuzu that is so insubstantial that it could be considered the flavor equivalent of gossamer, it just isn't strong enough to be compelling. I realize that Japanese food and drinks tend to be subtle, but this is more insubstantial than usual. Think of lemonade that has been watered down to half of its potency and carbonated and you're in the ballpark.

If Dydo meant for this to be a mixer, it failed on that front as far as I'm concerned as well. If you mixed this with anything, the flavor would be pretty much lost. While utterly inoffensive, and refreshing in its own way, this is not the sort of thing I'd be likely to buy even for it's Japanese price of around 100-150 yen ($1.05-$1.57) a bottle, let alone for the $2.79 I paid for it at Hankook Korean market.

This is the second Dydo beverage that I've reviewed, and the first one fared a lot better in my estimation. I wouldn't say this is bad at all. It's just not impressively good. It could be that I'm just setting the bar much higher given the price tag, but I really think there's nothing to see here. Move along.


BradleyNASH said...

It's unfortunate this wasn't a tasty product. I too have found that some of these companies are SO hit or miss with their beverages. It seems like it's pretty rare to run into one where the whole lineup is appetizing. Anyway, keep doing what you do!

Hirayuki said...

It's really too bad that this was so "meh"--yuzu beverages are rare enough (especially outside of Japan), and sugar-free or reduced-calorie versions are rarer yet. It's probably better than nothing, but not at $3 a pop. Thanks for taking the fall for the rest of us!

Orchid64 said...

Bradley: You are right that it is hard to find entire line-ups that are good, but I guess that's the nature of trying new things. Companies want to expand their line, but sometimes their flavors just don't work.

Hirayuki: I was completely with you on what a shame this was. Finding a zero-calorie yuzu drink was exciting. Tasting it was less so. ;-)

Thanks to both of you for commenting!