Adventures in Eating: Funky snacks from the other side of the world

Nat, my fiancé, has an older brother who has a house in Japan and often travels there for business.  For Christmas, he and his family gave us a bounty of weird Japanese snacky treats.  Because we didn’t have room in our suitcases, Nat and I shipped them from California to our apartment in New York.  The package arrived yesterday, and this morning we opened it up and finally broke in to what ended up being some of the weirdest stuff I have ever tasted.

The entire haul

I’m not sure what most of these things are, but I’m sure I don’t really want to eat them ever again.  One taste was more than enough!

First up, what we were told was a green tea Kit Kat.

Nat and I each took a bite.  At first the taste was mild, and I waited for the hint of green tea to appear.  Instead, though, I started to recognize the taste as something different.  It developed slowly, and getting a firm grasp on what it was took both of us a couple seconds…WASABI.  Not a good flavor, guys.  I think you can let that one go.

The next package looked pretty innocuous.  I mean, clearly these are roasted soybeans, right?

Yeah, I have no idea!  They had the texture of powder that had been packed tightly–in your hand they felt and looked like they should be solid, as a soy nut would be, but once you bit down on them they pretty much gave in and dissolved.  Pretty unexpected.

The next ones had promise!  It looked like they were probably chocolate-covered sesame sticks (and I love chocolate as well as sesame sticks, so a win/win, right?) and almonds.  Maybe a cool little snack to keep in one’s purse!

Those chocolate things were just chocolate-covered hollow shell things.  With a weird flavor.  Um, next, please.

Judging by the picture on the package, these Cratz things are supposed to be accompanied by beer.  They were like dense pretzels, but rolled in weird flavor powder.  The one on the right tasted, I’m disgusted to say, like hot dogs, which makes me wonder if they had some kind of meat by-product in them.  Ugh, I hope not.  I hate eating meat by accident like that.

Both packages also contained almonds.  I guess almonds are a common ingredient in snack foods in Japan?

Finally, and to me, grossest, is this stuff, which Nat loves.  Apparently it has a terrible smell, although I have had the good luck not to have noticed.  Nat was eating some in San Francisco, though, and someone came into the room and said, “What smells like garbage?  Ew, like rotting garbage!”  Not only garbage, but rotting garbage.  Appetizing, right?  Who wouldn’t want to eat something described that way?

Dried cuttlefish.  This is one of those things that I can’t even imagine opening and tasting, let alone liking.

Clearly I am not a very adventurous eater.  Maybe some of these snacks sound good to you!  If so, I’m sorry because I think we got rid of most of them.  But you can probably find them on your next trip to Japan.

Are you an adventurous eater?  What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

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9 comments

    1. Sorry, Leah, I think my fiancé has already finished off the stuff we ended up keeping. I’ll keep you in mind for the next round, though 🙂 I’m sure we have plenty of Japanese snack foods in our future!

  1. My officemate actually bought a Wasabi Kitkat in the office. Since we are not from Japan (and it’s not regularly distributed in our country), nobody dared to taste it. I personally don’t have the guts to taste it. But some of my friends from Japan said it tastes good.

    1. Well, it definitely wasn’t suited to my palate! There was something about the wafer and the wasabi flavor that really didn’t work for me. I’ll take my wasabi on sushi, and my kitkats with chocolate 🙂

  2. Caught on to your blog from Jezebel. Japanese convenience stores are amazing and have a variety of constantly changing seasonal snack foods, as companies are always trying to keep on-beat with consumer fads.

    The second one is some sort of dried natto or natto-emulative snack. Check out natto’s wikipedia page if you’re not familiar–it’s a healthy (although somewhat smelly and sticky) soy food popular in Japan. Definitely try some if you can get your hands on it in NY.

    The chocolate ones are a special chocolate-covered almond version of kaki-pi, a rice cracker snack in the shape of persimmon seeds (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaki_peanuts).

  3. When I first moved to Korea my colleagues at work took me out for dinner. The first dish to arrive was still moving. It was live baby octopus cut into tiny pieces. Each individual piece was still moving. I was grossed out. But to show my willingness to try to fit in to Korean culture I ate a small piece. It was horrible and not something I’d ever want to do again.

    In Hong Kong I was introduced to a fruit called durian that smells like death. No really, it smells like a rotting carcass on a hot day. The smell was just unforgettable and indescribable. I didn’t taste it but I’m told that the fruit is quite tasty once you can get past the odour. Unfortunately I never got to that point.

    Here in Korea one of the most popular snacks is roast squid in peanut butter. I don’t mind the squid (which I think is what cuttlefish is) but not with peanut butter; it’s just not something I’m interested in eating.

  4. It is interesting how each culture can have such different tastes and find things really appealing that another culture finds absolutely revolting. I’m afraid these snacks don’t appeal to me at all!

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