Thursday, October 21, 2010
Echigoseika Fluffy Chocolate Sembei
I've known about this product since last spring when I reviewed the same company's cheese mochi sembei, but hadn't located it. The reason why I couldn't find it is that it is seasonal and is only produced between September and March. I guess they feel that it's too dangerous to put even sembei that includes chocolate out there if we're in the 5-6 months of summer weather in Japan. Since I found the cheese mochi last April, it means I just missed it.
I found these at Okashi no Machioka discount snack shop for 198 yen ($2.37). It includes 3 pouches of 20 grams (.7 oz.) each and there are about 115 calories is in about 10 balls (the contents of one pouch). You can probably find them in other markets or possibly even convenience stores since the company is a major snack maker. Note that these are not a "healthy" sembei option as the first ingredient is sugar followed by vegetable oil and then rice starch.
Some things really defy explanation because they are so unlike anything you have ever tried before. Let's start with the idea that this is sembei, but it's "fluffy" and chocolate. And the name actually describes the product accurately. These balls of rice-based puffy goodness pretty much melt in your mouth. They are soft and cool on the tongue. The exterior is very sweet with a sugary white chocolate coating. It may be hard to accept this, but they taste like vanilla ice cream. Given their texture and properties, eating them is like having sweet ice cream without the pesky need for refrigeration.
I really liked these, but I recognize them as a "sometimes" snack because of the high sugar content. They are absolutely worth a try if you can get your hands on them. The experience is both unique and enjoyable even for picky palates. Frankly, this is the kind of product that keeps me reviewing new snacks. It's rare to come across something which is so unlike anything I've had before, yet very approachable in its flavors, but when I do, it feels like hitting a home run. The only way you're not going to care for them is if strong vanilla flavor doesn't appeal to you or if you don't like fairly sweet things.