Friday, August 18, 2017

Yoneya Lemon Daifuku

As I've mentioned before, I am currently living in a rural area. For the most part, I love it here. Though the local politics don't match my values at all, I'm accustomed to living in a culture with values that aren't in accord with mine. In fact, I feel like living in Japan helped prepare me for being a liberal in a conservative zone. I can accept the culture (which is beyond politics, but that's the biggest "hardship") as something which suits the locals, but doesn't suit me personally and just keep my distance.

At any rate, the biggest aspect of small town life that actually does bother me is the food culture, such as it is. There are about 10 restaurants that aren't chains or fast food places, and most of them offer a limited menu with an emphasis on burgers and sandwiches. I don't like to order anything at a restaurant that I can't make myself at least as well, if not better, than a restaurant can. I rely on Yelp to some extent to make some decisions about which places to try, and, though I've lived here for almost two years, I've not hit all of the places yet because I tend to spend my money at ethnic places about an hour north of where I live (in Oregon, in a city which is big enough to have a wider range of options).

What Yelp has made me realize is just how much ones tastes are conditioned by local experience. People raved about a local steak place and it got high star reviews. My husband and I finally went there on his birthday about a year after living here and both found it extremely disappointing. The "salad bar" was a limited range of canned food options. The chicken I ate was some sort of pressed meat with grill marks. The "dessert" was a scoop of cheap ice cream with Hershey's syrup on it. This helped me see all too clearly that people who haven't had a broad range of experiences can't tell the difference between what is at the low end of the culinary scale and what is at the high end.

As someone who reviews snack foods from another country, I realize that that people may judge the food I'm judging less harshly than I do because some of them haven't lived in a place in which better options exist. And, I'm sure there are sometimes things I review which other people have more experience with that other people would find inadequate, but I really enjoyed. This snack really illustrates to me how spoiled I was to have lived in a place in which fresh confections made with mochi were common. I think someone else might have found this more enjoyable than me, but only if he/she had never had a better version.

This is made by a company called Yoneya which specializes in traditional Japanese confections like yokan (a block of sweet bean gel). They seem to offer a lot of summer gift boxes as well as individually wrapped sweets like the one I'm reviewing. One of their less traditional, but quite interesting looking foods is a peanut monaka. It's actually shaped like a peanut, comes in a peanut-shaped box, but is oddly filled with red bean jam (anko) and not peanut-based filling. Oh well, two out of three ain't bad...

The mochi shell on this wasn't hard, but it also wasn't super soft and pliable. It seemed too thick and, though it was easy to bite into, it was weirdly firm in a way most fresh (non-shelf-stable) mochi is not. That said, the lemon filling in this was nothing short of amazing. It was tangy, sweet, and bright. The flavors were so good that I very much wanted the textures to match and I decided to give it a turn in the microwave to see if warming up the mochi would make the texture more stretchy and pliable, but it didn't change anything. It seemed too thick and overworked/dense. It was very unfortunate that the mochi outside didn't match the lemony bean filling inside.

If you want to try this, and I guessing you don't, I'm afraid you're out of luck as the only place you could have gotten one was from Bokksu and they seem to no longer carry them.

Source: Part of the Bokksu premium summer citrus box

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