Monday, December 21, 2009

Organic Foods Life "Egg Nog"

Every year around Christmas time, my husband sets forth on a quest. No, it is not a quest for the perfect gift for me, his ever-adoring wife. The truth is that we buy what we want when we want it and don't do Christmas gifts. It's not a quest for the spirit of Christmas or the gift of the magi or any of that other sentimental stuff. He braves the moderately cold, semi-dry Japanese winter and hits all of the import shops to see if there are any cartons of eggnog from America or European countries on offer.

For the record, there are a few big import supermarkets in Hiroo that have carried this Christmas treat in the past, but they seem to have given it up over the past few years. This left my husband seeking a more locally produced alternative. Last year, he discovered tall, glass bottles of "Egg Nog" for about 2,000 yen ($22.45) a bottle at a department store.

The bottles only contain 500 ml of eggnog for a very high price. That's the same quantity as a single serving PET bottle of a soft drink for about 15-20x the cost. For that price tag, it'd better be some damn fine nog. That being said, while my husband bought a bottle of this last year, he didn't buy the bottles I'm reviewing today. He was given two of them as a very generous gift from one of his students.

"Sake well" makes you first wonder if this has something to do with rice wine, but, no, it's just a missing "h" on a label that clearly has not been proofread by a native speaker.

The label lists all of the pertinent information in Engrish on the front (that was not a typo) and Japanese on the nutrition information on the back. I'm amused by the claim that this is "traditional" eggnog, but it contains agar. Yes, there was many a year when grandma whipped up her own special blend for the holidays with a lashing or two of seaweed-derived gelatin to thicken it. Also, I'm pretty sure turmeric is generally not on the list of ingredients for most eggnog concoctions.

The eggnog is thick and tends to develop dark bands as the "sinnamon" and nutmeg drift around. If you look at the bottom through the clear glass, you can see the powders have settled down there and you have to give it a good shaking to get a more uniform color. The liquid is slightly thick, but not too incredibly so. It smells mainly of the fake rum essence.

All I could detect on the first sip was absolutely monstrous sweetness. I don't know how much sugar is in it, but the sugar overpowers nearly everything except the rum essence. Even that is a distant second to the overbearing sweetness. By the third sip, I could pick up some of the spices. Vanilla is the most detectable, followed by many miles by the faint taste of cinnamon and nutmeg.

The texture of this seemed about right. It's nice and smooth, but it was so tooth enamel erodingly sweet that I could hardly manage three little sips to do this review. This is definitely not one of those foreign foods that has been modified for the Japanese market by reducing the sugar level. Perhaps I'm just not a good candidate for eggnog in general. the truth is that I never drank it in the U.S., nor did I sample it when my husband bought it before. A little research on the internet yields information which says that store-bought eggnog is usually super sweet. I have a feeling this might be good at about 50% of the current sweetness level and with some real rum instead of essence. As it is though, I wouldn't recommend it, especially not for the very high price tag.

If you're in Japan and want some traditional holiday libations, I'd say you'd be a lot better off hunting down a promising recipe and making your own than buying this high-priced eggnog.


Jen in Japan said...

I've never liked store bought egg nog (and this one looks really revolting) but I decided on a whim to try making some homemade nog this year and surprise surprise I do like it. It was really easy to make too. I spiked it with Irish Whiskey instead of rum however. Oishii.

Merry Christmas!

Orchid64 said...

I made homemade eggnog a few years ago, but my husband didn't care for it. I think he's so familiar with the store-bought stuff he grew up on in the U.S. that he feels something is missing from the homemade variety.

He felt that "something" was missing from this as well, but more than that, he felt that there was just a lack of flavor overall.

Merry Christmas to you, too!

Marvo said...

I love egg nog and all the egg nog flavored products that show up this time of year. Although, I've only had one carton of egg nog so far this season (Bud's Egg Nog). I think when I go to Target tonight I'll pick up some egg nog, while I still can.

Anonymous said...

You should definitely try to make your own homemade eggnog. The store bought stuff just does not compare.

BTW, did one of my Engrish students write that label?

Anonymous said...

Oh Man... I miss Egg Nog from the local mini marts in the U.S. so thick, so creamy... I don't like alcohol in mine.. but I have not had nog for 11 plus years..

Every year I tell myself I'll drink some when I go home.. but forget... crap.. I might search Rakuten for some nog...