Friday, April 19, 2013
Bourbon Petit Karinto Sembei
Karinto is a brown sugar treat in Japan that resembles what you pick up after you take your dachshund for "walkies". I've only tried it once, karinto that is, not what comes out of ones wiener dog's digestive system. The type I tried was a cheap variety so I can't say I've given the real thing a fair shake. This sembei uses brown sugar from Okinawa, a place in southern Japan which is famous for a variety of foods including brown sugar. Of course, it seems that any place with an appreciable amount of agriculture is famous for a wide variety of edible substances, so it's hard to get too worked up by Okinawan brown sugar when they're also famous for things like sweet potato and goya.
These are marketed as "sweet" sembei, but they aren't really very sweet. They are as close to neutral as you can get before crossing the line to sweethood. They have a nice brown sugar flavor, but there's also a strange slightly herbal aftertaste which is vaguely familiar to me. I'm not sure that this is really any sort of spice, but it may be the effect of baking brown sugar to a hard crunch or highly cooked honey (which is also an ingredient).
The crackers are very crispy and you can taste both the honey and the brown sugar with every bite. The honey tends to hit in the front of your tongue at the start, followed by the mild brown sugar, and then the odd aftertaste. If it weren't for that, these would be a home run as a "buy again". I love brown sugar sembei and am pleased with the small size of the package.
I'm not sure whether to recommend these or not. I may be especially sensitive to that funky taste, or it may be something others would detect. I sort of like these. I love the crispy, somewhat hard texture and the honey and brown sugar flavors coupled with very light sweetness as well as the size (38 grams/1.34 oz.) for a low price even in the U.S. where they tend to sell for about a dollar (100 yen). If the main composition of this is appealing to you and you can get them cheap, I'd say give them a try.