Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Here's an odd little snack from the Kado company. Called Kyabetsu Taro, or Taro Cabbage, it has neither taro nor cabbage in its manufacture. These are super-light corn puffs with a thin (and relatively strong) coating of nori and Japanese brown sauce.  The sauce is a somewhat chemically tasting variation of the wonderful sweetened saltly soy concoction that enlivens takoyaki or okonomiyaki. That said, these inexpensive little guys are the sorts of things that contemporary restaurant food technologist chefs are trying to manufacture as haute cuisine.

If these showed up on the tables of El Bulli - and with the appropriate descriptors - they might be considered a revolutionary experiment with flavors, textures, and materials.  The review might posit the daring mix of asian and western ingredients. A texture of near nothingness with a mighty assault of nori and salt. Taking humble corn meal and elevating it to unrecognizable heights. Ah, yes, even Bustos Domenq might weigh in on this one.

All things considered though, they are a mighty addictive snack. Definitely in the realm of flavored popcorn or cheetos. Just look for the green frog cop mascot.  I believe his name is Taro-san.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

松竹梅 - いか酒

Mmmm. Fish flavored liquors! Found this one in a konbini in Kofu and, well... just had to try it. In my first travels to Japan, I bought fugu fin flavored sake. It tasted exactly how one would expect dried fish fins soaked in booze would. And to top it off, it left my mouth raw with whatever that active ingredient is in fugu that Japanese daredevil gourmets love. Being a bit of a slow learner, I could not resist this little one cup of ika sake (いか酒). The beautifully illustrated little squid phallus was calling my name.  And of course, it tasted exactly how one would expect - like dried squid soaked in booze. 
The Takara sake company, a 150 year old liquor manufacturer dreamed this one up, ostensibly creating a Hokkaido style winter warmer that would surely take Japan by storm. I'd suggest buying a bag of dried squid and having plain old sake on the side. However, I found another product out there - sake bottled in sun-dried squid skin containers.  After you drink the sake, you can eat the container.  Apparently they tried this at tourist spots in Iwate Prefecture about 40 years ago.  It really didn't go over that well.  But slow learners all, the Kimura Shoten store has decided to revive the "tradition" and try selling them again.  Kimura Shoten is the place that also makes fish-flavored ice creams. Need I say more.