I'm continuing my brisk jaunt through the box of snacks ZenPop sent me with two of the salted potato snacks. Besides being made of potato and containing salt, they really don't have much in common, but it's not like I'm matchmaking them or engaging in little mock wedding ceremonies where in which I put a tiny veil on the rings and a bow tie on the chips - at least not yet. Constructing these things takes time.
The first time I tried Himalayan sea salt, I wondered why anyone would like the taste and smell of sulfur on their food. Sure, it's pink and looks pretty, but - at least to my taste buds - it added nothing to the experience and really took things away. I dismissed it as one of those things all the cool kids were into because other cool kids told them to be into it.
As weird as I found Himalayan sea salt to be, the sakura (cherry blossom) salt on Tohato's potato rings is like a mutant version of salt. Maybe it was formed when Godzilla was percolated decades ago. When I opened the bag, the smell was strongly cherry-blossom-like. It just did not fit the sense of what should come with a potato snack.
Smell isn't everything though. People who eat Durian know that. Taste is where it's at. Unfortunately, this didn't fare much better on the taste front. The first ring is especially odd as it hits you full force with the cherry-like flavor of the salt. After you eat a few, you get a little acclimated and it's more of a bad aftertaste that you tolerate.
I'm not sure what Tohato was thinking with this one. I guess that the fact that this is a holiday release connected to the "doll's festival" for girls (hinamatsuri) made them think the whole cherry blossom concept was a good one. They should have saved it for their sweet snacks rather than Poteko.
While the Poteko aren't inedible, they aren't nearly as much fun as they should be. I'm giving them a little credit there. I think the best use for these is to take them around to your unsuspecting friends and tell them it's a Japanese potato ring snack and ask them if they can guess what flavor it is. Have your camera ready because you'll want to catch the faces they make and post them on social media or future blackmail purposes.
The Calbee chips, by comparison, are a much tamer beast. The "hard" part comes from chips made with a thicker cut potato. Most Japanese potato chips are super thin, light and crispy. These are still crispy, but the bite is definitely less crumbly and more crunchy.
All Japanese potato chips have a particular fresh scent and taste which is unique and these have that going for them. I'm guessing this comes from the oil. However, the bag I had also had an unusual and not necessarily welcome. Honestly, it reminded me of sour milk. I don't know where that came from and I've never experienced that with Calbee's chips before. They're supposed to have Vitamin C added, which is also a bit strange. That might have something to do with it.
Poteko Cherry Blossom Salt:
Calbee Sea Salt Hard Chips: