I’ve been living in Kyoto for just over a year now. Part of my weekly routine involves visiting convenience stores and keeping an eye out for new flavour varieties because, if you haven’t noticed, Japan is a country that never asks the question “Why would anyone in their right mind ever want to buy this?” when it comes to producing varieties of snackfoods.
For the benefit of you, loyal Limited News reader, I give you the top 5 sweet, savoury and downright surreal selections on offer at most convenience stores in Japan.
There are many snacks you can find in Japan that are coated in chocolate. However, Royce’ has hit an amazing balance of sweet-to-savoury ratio with its varieties of chocolate-coated potato chips.
My initial thoughts were “How could this possibly work?” but after indulging in my first chip, I started doing mental calculations regarding moving to Hokkaido permanently so that I could easily obtain these amazing potato chips. Even the most discerning palate would have difficulty finding fault in these delicious morsels of salty chocolate goodness.
Royce’s most outstanding offering is the white-chocolate coated variety. I can’t vouch for the caramel flavour, because I haven’t sampled it… yet.
For a limited time, Calbee partnered with Royce’ (I’m not entirely sure why they have a apostrophe hanging around like it’s waiting for something more, but I shouldn’t question snack overlords in the first place) to make these readily available around Japan.
2. Avocado and fetta flavoured Doritos
I was suspicious about this variety of Doritos. Avocado and fetta has never seemed like a winning combination to me. Yet the idea of failing to sample such a curious combination far outweighed any reluctance I may have felt. Oddly enough, finding Cheese Supreme Doritos or even Original flavour in Japan can be difficult, but mustard and bacon flavour or avocado and fetta? Fill your boots.
Verdict? Would snack again. Perhaps with salsa next time. Taste? Slight bitterness but an unmistakeable avocado finish. The cheese taste is a little strong at first, but tolerable. Fun fact, because Japan doesn’t really have ‘V’ in its alphabet (all three of them) the literal translation of the text underneath Doritos is, when sounded out in full – a-bo-ka-do chi–zu.
3. Pepsi-flavoured Twisties
This flavour variety doesn’t fail to live up to its label. Take the Twistie, an undefinable shape but unmistakeable crunchy texture. Add Pepsi flavouring, sherbet and salt. To call them interesting seems too praiseworthy, to call them odd feels too critical.
You see, when you bite into a Pepsi-flavoured Twistie, you can taste Pepsi. You also get a fizzy aftertaste on account of the sherbet. By definition, they’re doing their darndest to emulate the soft drink in an edible form. This leads to excitement and surprise at first, “Hey! They’re just like Pepsi!”
And then you eat another one.
Reflection and consideration. “Hey…they’re just like Pepsi.”
Hesitation and confusion. “They’re. Just. Like. Pepsi?!”
You can’t fault them for delivering on a worthy adaptation of a product, but ultimately the lingering question is why they even bothered attempting the adaptation in the first place. Because Japan, that’s why. Recommended for curious palates.
4. Mountain Dew flavoured potato sticks
This type of snackfood is very popular in Japan. They’re potato sticks, in a manner of speaking, and usually have bolder flavours than regular chips on account of the fact that their density and preparation methods means more flavour is generally absorbed in the process.
And then someone in the marketing department of a snackfood company somewhere deep in Japan took a lot of acid and said “Mountain Dew!” which ultimately led to these being produced.
Buyers remorse doesn’t quite capture my feelings after sampling my first Mountain Dew infused, dense sliver of potato extract.
In fact, I felt like buying the entire product run, throwing them into a pit, setting the entire thing on fire, dance to “Let the Sun Shine In” from ‘Hair’ while it burns and then stomp on the ashes just to make sure there are no remains.
This would hopefully lead to some form of recognition as a humanitarian act of the highest order. Recommended as a birthday gift for someone you dislike, but they don’t quite get it.
5. Chocolate-coated shrimp snacks
Shrimp and dark chocolate. Together at last.
I will admit that I was surprised by how well this taste actually blended. The dark chocolate used in this particular product isn’t too overpowering and actually has quite a subtle tartness to it. The shrimp flavour isn’t completely overwhelmed and the texture of the actual chip itself is somewhat similar to a Cheeto. All in all, the whole package is as decadent as it seems.