Saturday, November 8, 2008

Rich Cut Sour Cream & Onion Potato Chips

Sour cream isn't a big deal in Japan. They're good with the cream, as is evidenced by a variety of Japanese dishes made with cream like umenohana. They're good with the sour, as is evidenced by umeboshi (very sour pickled plums), but you don't see much going on with sour cream. In fact, it's sold in half cup containers for about $2.30 (230 yen) rather than in huge fatty, delicious bowls like you can buy back home.

For this reason, it's rare to see things that are flavored with sour cream and onion like these chips. In fact, this offering by Kokeiya is the first time I've seen a Japanese-produced chip in this flavor. That's not to say such chips never existed. It's not like I've spent many a night painstakingly inspecting the snack food aisles of every market in Tokyo looking for sour cream and onion chips. After all, if I did that, I'd have no time to write review posts, or work, or eat snacks for review.

The bag of chips I sampled and photographed for review was actually the fourth one I've bought. This might tell you something about how good they are. It took this long to keep one around long enough to take pictures. To be fair, I only ate half of two bags. I sent the rest off to work with my husband to snack on with his lunch. Also, the bags aren't very big. If you were to compare them to a small single-serving bag like those commonly sold in the U.S., the contents might equal about 4 of those little bags (possibly less).

When you open the bag, the chips mainly smell like potato chips with the vaguest hint of sour cream. The first bite is salty, with a hint of cream followed by a very heavily onion-flavored finish and aftertaste. The onion component of these chips is much stronger than the sour cream and it tends to build up more strongly as you eat more of the chips. Since the ingredients list is potatoes, oil, onion powder, milk powder, parsley, and stevia, I'm guessing onion seasoning is more liberally applied than the milk part which comprises the "sour cream" portion. They are very, very tasty.

The chips are crispy and most of them are full-sized. One thing I've discovered about imported chips is that a lot of them get crushed and buying domestically made ones is always a better bet. They're protected better or just are handled less and don't tend to get as crushed. My only minor quibble with these chips is that there are always a certain percentage of darker chips and they have a slightly burnt flavor which is a little unpleasant. I'd give the makers the benefit of the doubt and consider that I had a bad bag or two, but after 4 bags, this seems to be pretty consistently an issue.

Kokeiya calls these "rich cut" chips and I'm guessing this is some sort of play (or mistake) on "ridge cut" as there is nothing unique in their shape. There are two types available. One is "usushio" which is "salt" and essentially what we'd call "plain" chips in America (or "crisps" in the U.K. and Australia). There's a contest going on right now on their web site and 50 people can win 4 bags of these chips (2 plain, 2 sour cream and onion). The site is here and you can also access a few little games related to the characters the company uses to promote their various products. There is also a popular commercial featuring Sadao Abe for these chips which still pictures and the actual commercial are shown from here. If you can understand Japanese, you might want to give the site a try, or at least enter the contest for free chips. They're definitely worth it.


Anonymous said...

We call them chips in Australia, the brits call them crisps, not us. :)

Sophia said...

The kanji on the packaging for "rich cut" should be more accurately translated as "thick cut". I'm guessing these chips are more Ruffles-like in girth than Lays-like.
BTW, love the blog!

Orchid64 said...

Hi, Sophia, and thanks for your kind words and for taking the time to read and comment!

The kanji doesn't seem to accurately describe the chips though. They aren't thick at all. They're pretty much regular cut, but I can't profess to being an expert on chip cuts. ;-)

It's kind of funny that they mistranslate their own kanji, but then they don't really care much about the English (at least I think so).