Monday, February 17, 2014

Imuraya Adzuki Bean Ice Pop

When I was working at Nova conversations school during my first few years in Japan, one of my students told me that she wasn't allowed to have chocolate or other sweet snacks when she was a child. She said that the only snack that she was allowed to have were bags of dried fish. The reason for this was that she had bad teeth and her parents wanted her to get added Calcium from the bones in the tiny little fish (she told me this, I don't know if they are a good source of Calcium) and they didn't want her exposed to the tooth enamel-rotting aspects of candy.

I thought of that student when I tried this bar. The main reason for this is that this bar seems like the kind of snack that you buy your kids when you don't want them to eat something more decadent. An ice bar made of beans has got to be better for you tha one made of chocolate and cream, right? Well, maybe not. This has 2 grams of protein, but so does a Fudgesicle. This has 110 calories for 70 grams and the Fudgesicle has 100 calories per 65 gram bar. This does clock in with less Sodium though (35 g. vs. 80 g.), but the Fudgesicle has less carbohydrate (17 g. vs. 24 g.). Finally, this actually has more sugars (24 g. vs. 14 g.) than a Fudgesicle. All in all, not an especially nutritious option despite the presence of beans.

I didn't look carefully at the ingredients before I bought this. For 80 cents (about 85 yen), I'm not terribly fussy and am always keen on a new experience. This is made from sugar, red beans, glucose syrup, cornstarch, and salt. In that short list, you will note that there is not type of dairy product at all. This is not a type of red bean ice cream. It is, quite literally, sweet frozen bean juice on a stick - a sort of perverted popsicle as it were.

Because this has cornstarch and beans in it, it's very grainy. Because it has no dairy, it isn't creamy at all. You cannot lick it or suck on it. You pretty much have to bite into it and chew on frozen wads of bean. Bad as that sounds, this doesn't taste bad at all as long as you like adzuki beans. On a flavor level, this is rather too sweet (no surprise with two types of sugar in there) and has only two notes - the sugar and the beans. The texture is satisfyingly thick, but easy to cleave even while frozen pretty solid.

This is a weird experience, but not in a bad way. I definitely didn't have to choke it down, but it felt a lot closer to "food" than "treat". Since I chose to eat it when I was between meals and feeling pretty hungry for something more substantial, it hit the right spot between food for fun and food to fill. That being said, if you're looking for dessert or just something to eat for fun, this is likely to let you down as it is so "beany".

I liked this fine, but I really don't think I'd buy another. If someone gave me another, I'd surely eat it eventually, but I'm not a fan of something that feels like ice cream but eats like food. The main drawback is the texture, which is weirdly gritty, followed by the somewhat overwhelming sweetness.

1 comment: said...

I disagree. It's weird to call it icecream without any milk, yes. But Popsicles are always frozen juice on a stick. There are bar icecreams, but that's different from a popsicle. And adzuki is a common dessert flavor in traditional Japanese sweets, so I don't think native Japanese people would consider it a sneaky healthy snack. I'm sorry you were disappointed though :(