Saturday, April 3, 2010

Weird foods found only in Japan, Part 4

Tabasco tied up with a senbe (rice cracker) maker to develop a spicy version of their little senbe and peanuts line. The result has a decent burn, but it doesn't have the over-powering vinegar flavor characteristic of Tabasco. It's more of a mild habanero flavor.

Speaking of which, a small Japanese drink maker decided to release Toranoco (tiger cub) cola. I can bet what you first thought it was. The text in the yellow banner at the bottom of the bottle says "this is not (hot) sauce". On the back, it says, "after drinking this cola, do not chug (hot) sauce as if it were juice". Above the "nanchatte" is "makka na uso", which translates to "red lie".

I'd mentioned the Japan Times sake tasting event held towards the end of Feb. The following Sunday, the JT ran a couple of photos in the paper. I'm the one third from the right at the far back.

Jason's is the discount grocery store where failed products go before their "sell-by" date (sorry Mr. A, the only way to make me give up Jason's is to pry them from my cold, dead fingers. Figure, maybe by the end of September at the current rate.) Two of the earlier attempts to cash in on a "sparkling" theme were Lipton's berry-flavored "Tea Sparkling", and Kirin's Afternoon Tea "Tea Sparkling". The Lipton's version is a slightly tart unsweetened blueberry/cranberry mix that's carbonated. Nothing that special about it, just that it's got bubbles. The Kirin version tastes like Earl Grey tea with honey and club soda. In the first sip, it was very reminiscent of Lipton's tea. Later, the honey flavor came out more and it really wasn't that bad. Definitely worth the 50 cents per bottle.

The Chocolate Sparkling was an attempt to cash in on the Valentine's Day market, and it didn't take long for it to go half-price at Jason's. Other people have written about this one before me. To me, it's like an egg cream made up with club soda and Hershey's syrup. It's not bad, but the clear liquid coupled with the chocolate extract kept telling my brain that this thing isn't healthy for me (i.e. - don't drink more than one a year), and it's so sickly sweet that it's not thirst quenching (i.e. - you can't chug it).

Over the last few months, there's been an "espresso" craze, with corn syrup-sweetened canned coffee drinks coming out labeled "espresso"-something, and with a darker, more burned taste. Generally, the can will either be a little smaller for the same price, or 10 cents more expensive for the same size. Here, we have the natural extension of this craze (also at Jason's, for 1/3 the price). It tastes like someone used instant coco powder and added a little coffee flavor. Very thick, like an old-fashioned chocolate shake. Not sure where the espresso part is, though.

I'd seen Love Mode Ginger when it first appeared in the convenience stores, but I didn't bother with it at the time. However, being at least 50% off at Jason's... it was worth the 60 cents for the photo. It's a calorie-free ginger ale, meaning it tastes horrible. A weak ginger ale flavor with artificial sweetener. Bad combination. Not sure why they bothered making it pink, though. It was funny, because at times it tasted a little like apple juice had been added as a sweetening/flavoring agent. The zipper on the side corresponds with the perforations in the plastic jacket, so I took the jacket off but there wasn't anything underneath worth looking at (no secret codes or special offers...)


Elfchin said...

I tried the love mode one too. I was too curious about how something that pink would taste. Not as crazy as I imagined...

TSOTE said...

Sugar-free ginger ale does not work, no matter what color you make it.