There's an episode of Monty Python in which people rather inexplicably keep saying "lemon curry" in a very quizzical fashion. I must say that I feel the same way about the concept of "lemon sembei". Since sembei can be sweet, it does have permission to be so, perhaps this isn't so strange, but I have to say that this is the first time I've run across this particular flavor. When I saw it at Marukai Japanese market for about $2.30 (about 230 yen), I couldn't resist despite the potential for disappointment.
These crackers are kin to Sanko Seika's venerable "Snow Inn" line of frosted sembei. I've reviewed them somewhat unfavorably in the past, but the general flavor concept is starting to grow on me. In fact, I may revisit the original Snow Inn crackers at some point in the future.
When you open the packet, they don't smell especially lemony. The first bite reveals just a hint of lemon flavor and a very modest tang. This is a salty sweet with a decent balance of both. Instead of them coming together in a battle royal, they sit quietly in their play pen making up new and imaginative flavor games. It's not a flavor punch, but I think it works well with its subtle flavor tones.
This was unique, but not in a bad way as such things can be. I was very surprised at how well it all came together, though there is a bit of a sense of disharmony when the "baked rice" flavor of the sembei comes through and it's mixed with a twist of lemon. However, once I got used to that concept, I really enjoyed these. They may not be everybody's cup of tea, but if you like lemon and sembei, and have a marginally adventurous palate, I'd recommend giving them a try. They're also only 53 calories per two sembei packet. That's a pretty good deal.
Incidentally, the yen is getting a little weaker and prices in Japanese markets are going down. I noticed when I went to Marukai that things were looking a little more affordable. This is bad news for folks working in Japan, but good news for those of us on the other side of the ocean buying stuff as imports.