Thursday, September 18, 2008

Banana Kamome No Tamago (Seagull Eggs)

Note the fact that the packaging could easily accommodate 9 of the banana-flavored eggs, but was cleverly designed to only hold 8.

One of the snacks my husband and I like to keep around our apartment at all times is Kamome No Tamago (かもめの玉子). This is a type of bean cake designed to resemble an egg ("tamago" is the Japanese word for egg, kamome refers to a seagull). A standard package (pictured below) of the regular variety includes 6 "eggs" for about 525 yen ($4.80 USD). The standard eggs are about the size of an actual large egg. They are filled with yellow beans and covered in a thin shell of cake with a thin covering of "white chocolate" (not really chocolate). They are mildly sweet and make a satisfying snack.

The regular "seagull eggs" in their work-a-day packaging.

This series of Japanese sweets is produced by a company called Saitoseika. I only ever see these bean cakes at one of our local markets and we have 4 large markets in a 15-minute radius of our apartment so they aren't easy to find at random shops. One can order them on-line from the manufacturers site, provided that one can read Japanese well enough and has a computer system which can allow one to view the proper characters rather than gibberish. One nice benefit of looking at the web site is that new flavor announcements can be tracked on their front page. For fall, for instance, they're going to offer chestnut flavor.

The gift wrapped box of banana bean cakes.

Since we enjoy the regular variety of Kamome No Tamago so much, I decided to pick up a box of the banana flavor when it unexpectedly showed up at a local market. The banana version came in a gift-wrapped box and clearly is marketed for purchase as a souvenir rather than as a run-of-the mill snack. It costs 735 yen ($6.75) and contained 8 rather small eggs. I'd say they are as small or smaller than the smallest chicken eggs. The regular variety are clearly a better value.

I'll be upfront about the fact that I am not a fan of banana-flavored things and that this was purchased with my husband in mind. Of course, I did sample these and was not surprised to find that I hated them. The taste was overwhelmingly strong and artificial. It reminded me of the banana esters we worked with in our high school chemistry class. The eggs are soft and fresh (just like the regular variety) and have a nice textural contrasts between the coating, cake, and bean "jam" interior, but the flavor was like eating concentrated or distilled banana puree.

The inside of the "eggs" is made to resemble an actual banana. The coating on the outside is light yellow to reflect the flavor as well.

My husband, on the other hand, is quite fond of these. He felt they were on par with the regular ones in terms of taste, but even he felt the banana flavor was pretty intense. He felt that these were the sort of thing a person was either going to love or hate and that there would likely be little variation in between. If you are the sort who finds banana-flavored treats appealing and can be open-minded about potentially artificial-tasting banana flavor, you may want to give these a try. Otherwise, I'd say find the regular variety and enjoy as they are a complete treat.

I usually like to provide nutrition information with these reviews, but, unfortunately, I threw away the little slip of paper with the ingredients already so I can't tell you what is in these. I do feel that they are probably a better snack for you than most other treats because they contain beans which have to carry some protein with them. However, that may just be wishful thinking on my part.


'badmoodguy' is mike said...

I'm like you...I loathe banana flavoring except in proper bananas. I've always been curious as to why banana-flavored items never taste really like bananas...

Orchid64 said...

I bought another box today after writing the review and I found that the third ingredient actually is bananas, but it really does not taste like real banana to me. It seriously seems like some sort of hyper-concentrated distillate. The hubby really likes them though. It was by his request that I bought another box. He's concerned that, as a seasonal item, they'll vanish and he won't get more. :-p

I'm funny about any sort of faux fruit items. The only thing I tend to like is orange, but they be because I don't like real oranges (!). Any food where I very much like the real fruit (grapes, strawberries, bananas, peaches), I don't like the fake stuff.

Thanks for your comment. :-)

Sera said...

How interesting! I gotta keep m eye out for these....

Matt said...

Being a fan of banana flavored snacks, I actually like these a lot. They are tasty like the originals with the banana flavor. I don't feel the taste is too strong at all.

Kitto LionPuss said...

I'm about to eat the original tasting nes. My friend bought me a box from Japan and gave it to me about a year ago. I've been craving them ever since. I love them.