Monday, July 29, 2013

Denroku Kaki Pika Ultra Mini

Image from Denroku's web site.

I wonder how many companies out there make variations on what appears to be Japan's most available, if not favorite, sembei (rice cracker). That would be, "kaki no tane" or "persimmon seed" crackers. They seem to be sold everywhere I go, even in mixes at Walmart here in California. Most Japanese markets regularly carry both a "regular" (soy sauce and slightly hot and spicy version) and wasabi. I think of these as the Japanese version of popcorn. It's something tiny that you can cram into your mouth by small handfuls and it provides salt, crunch, and a certain satisfaction to compulsively eat without getting your mouth terribly full.

The problem with this type of thing as well as our venerable popcorn, is that it is too easy to overdo it. It's all so small. I couldn't possibly have eaten that much, could I? Well, yeah, you could, but it doesn't feel like it. The calorie pile up is insidious with kaki no tane, much as it is with M & Ms or other deceptive tiny candies that beckon you to shovel mounds of them into your yob. Denroku has figured out a way to help you take control by putting portions into a tiny little "ultra mini" package. The contents are enough for a small handful. If you want to put away a lot, you'll have to rip open little bag after little bag of them.

As a fan of portion control, I approve of this choice. As a fan of reducing waste, I'm not so happy about it. As someone who lives in a country in which portions are out of control, I'm thinking that recycling can handle the waste and such packaging really does encourage us all to eat less. You can see, I'm clearly torn... over a packet of sembei. I live a complex emotional life, a dumb complex emotional life, but a complex one at that.

The little crackers in kaki no tane mixes come with different degrees of saltiness and heat. These fall more to the salty side and less to the hot. This is not a bad thing. They are very savory with a deep soy sauce flavor, a satisfying crunch, and a generous number of peanuts to provide a balance both in terms of protein and rich fattiness. In fact, this is definitely one of the more balanced mixes of nuts with sembei and that's a good thing. It means they're not going on the cheap, though, if you aren't a fan of peanuts, you might not be especially happy with the distribution. I also believe that these have a better and more developed flavor depth than the Sweetbox version that I reviewed previously.

I received my samples of these kaki pika ultra minis as part of the Skoshbox that I was sent gratis and I'm very pleased that it was a part of it. It's not only that I enjoyed the salty snack itself, and I did, but also that it was a trip down memory lane for me.

Denroku offers some adorable downloadable stationary with their mascot for download for those who want to print out some envelopes (top ones are for New Year's) or note paper for date books.



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