This is the first item from the ZenPop Sweets box that I previously reviewed. I chose it mainly because I wanted a small dessert and it looked small and like a dessert. That being said, this is a "kid's snack" in Japan and sold for a mere 20 yen (20 cents), so it's unrealistic to expect it to be as refined as larger, adult-marketed shelf stable pastries. And, of course, shelf-stable pastries are a completely different category from actual fresh pastries.
If cakes were to be compared to movies, the real deal would be a comedy like "Grand Budapest Hotel," and this type of product would be something by Adam Sandler which didn't do well at the box office. Note that I've never seen a good Adam Sandler movie, let alone a bad one. However, while I distrust most of what the internet tells me, I have some faith that their disdain for a movie that failed to make money that also featured a guy who irritated the crap out of me every time I saw him on "Saturday Night Live" is appropriately placed. So, don't expect some finely made performance a quirky, beautifully executed manner. This is more pratfalls and dumbassery. All you can hope for is that it'll make you smile anyway.
There was no nutrition information on the packaging, so I can't tell you how many calories it is. It can't be many though because it is small. The packaging is very deceptive in that the actual cake is less than half the width and only a little over half of the length of the package. It's also not exactly what you'd think of as a Swiss cake roll with moist sponge cake and whipped cream frosting. The filling is a somewhat cream-cheese-like frosting and the "cake" is somewhat doughy and quite moist. It's more akin to a slightly damp pancake.
When you open it, the strawberry scent is potent. The flavor is not super sweet, which is actually a bonus. The cake has a nice flavor, but the doughy texture is a little disappointing as it feels like you're noshing on a slightly underbaked item. Still, there is something appealing in it's qualities and the flavor of the cake is decent.
The interesting thing about this is that, if you are expecting Ralph Fiennes instead of Adam Sandler, this will disappoint, but it's actually not a bad shelf-stable snack. It needs to be placed into its own category and I felt it was closer to a low-rent version of a dorayaki (a traditional Japanese snack which looks like two pancakes filled with red bean paste).
I wouldn't buy a case of these, and I wouldn't want to eat one every week. If I still lived in Japan though, I could see me buying one occasionally and keeping it in the my desk when an urge or craving hit. I think the fairest thing to say is that I wouldn't want to see this in every box I got from a snack box service, but I wouldn't mind seeing one show up once a year or so. That actually makes it something I'd want to see more frequently than any Adam Sandler movie.
Source: ZenPop box service