Review: Cinnamon Bun Lay’s Potato Chips (Canada)

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Review: Cinnamon Bun Lays Potato Chips
Purchased: August 2014
Reviewed: September 2014
https://www.dousaflavour.ca/

For the last couple of years, Lay’s Potato Chips have been taking suggestions for new chip flavours from the general public in the U.S. and Canada. Each country gets 4 new chip flavours, with one being declared the ‘winner’ and theoretically being made into a regular chip.

Previous chips included (U.S.A. 2013) Sriracha, Chicken & Waffles, and Cheesy Garlic Bread, (Canada 2013) Creamy Garlic Caesar, Perogy Platter, Maple Moose, and Grilled Cheese & Ketchup. Currently, the U.S. is running their second contest, featuring Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese, Cappuccino, Mango Salsa, and Wasabi Ginger. And here in Canada? Bacon Poutine, Cinnamon Bun, Jalapeno Mac & Cheese, and Tzatziki (winners in bold).

Why make this exhaustive list…? Heh. Honestly because we just never get stuff this cool in North America! One of the things I love about Japanese snacks is the diversity of flavours and tastes, particularly compared to North America. I’ve just been loving the hell out of these contests and getting a shot at tasting new flavours. Like a little bit of Japan back here in Toronto. So on that note, let’s start with the ‘weirdest’ flavour, cinnamon bun!

Packaging: Straight to the point, big clear image, easy to read. It implores you to vote too, which is great. Moreover, the designs on these special bags of chips are actually really clearly different than the regular bags on store shelves, with the white stripe down the centre making them stand out. All in all, a good move!

Scent and Taste: My husband did a quick sniff test and his head recoiled comically. These are STRONG cinnamon chips, and sugary. Amazing.

The taste isn’t nearly as strong unfortunately! I know it seems weird to have a ‘sweet’ chip, but these are loosely patterned after churros, a salty-sweet, deep fried cinnamon-dusted treat. I’ve had some great, fresh churros that have a mouth-puckering cinnamon dusting, and these aren’t those… but they’re still pretty good! The Lay’s potato chip taste comes through clearly, with sweet cinnamon on the tongue.

The strongest impression though, is a buttery mouthfeel. These chips are really surprisingly buttery, a sort of chip taste I’d only experienced in Japan. It compliments the cinnamon and sugar nicely. I guess that’s supposed to be the ‘bun’ part of things, but yeah, butter. It’s lovely!

Verdict: I was surprisingly happy with these! I don’t think they pair with literally anything but on their own, I totally dig’em. I wouldn’t be unhappy if these won the contest…!

Vote at https://dousaflavour.ca/

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England!

Hey folks, sorry about the lack of updates but I’ve had far less time to update in England than I’d hoped. It’s been a wonderful trip though, and I’m hoping I get to come back soon.

I should be updating next week, but in the interim enjoy this Kit Kat themed vending machine I came across at the train station! :)

Best,

Chris

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Review: Kirin Strong Sour Cherry Chu-Hai 8%

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Review: Kirin Strong Sour Cherry Chu-Hai 8%
Purchased: August 2013
Review: October 2013
Website: http://www.kirin.co.jp/brands/hyoketsu/

I know that I’ve become something of a candy hoarder since starting this site, though getting back into the review game is helping me break some of those habits and push some of these treats out the door. But if I can be honest for just a moment, I have NO IDEA how I managed to keep this can of Chu-hai in the fridge for nearly two months without drinking it. Chu-hai is awesome (in case you forgot: here’s a refresher review) and this is a Limited Edition flavour that I’ve never tried before! In fact, it was only available for the summer, and isn’t currently on Japanese store shelves, so… uh, sorry? I guess you won’t get to try it? Maybe it’ll be bad and you won’t have wanted to try it anyway, right?

(Aside: That is unlikely.)

Packaging: Sporting the standard Kirin triangle/diamond design that makes it harder for the can to slip out of your drunken hands, even with almost no English on the can the basics (STRONG, 8% Alcohol) are communicated, and that big picture of cherries at least hints at the taste. It’s actually a really sharp package, with a lady-oriented red/pink blush on the can, but the great big STRONG distressed type telling the gents that it’s alright for them to imbibe as well. This can of drunk is for Everyone.

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Scent and Taste: The scent is incredibly strong, even for chu-hai. I guess the can isn’t lying huh? Seriously, I’ve described chu-hai in the past as tasting “like lemon paint thinner, but delicious” so for me to say that this is even bolder is a pretty big announcement. I’m even getting a hint of the sour, along with a heady cherry and white-grape-juice smell. It’s appealing.

As for the taste?

Strong, SWEET, a tiny bit sour on the aftertaste, but surprisingly it’s not nearly as potent as your average lemon/grapefruit chu-hai. It’s almost… pleasant… to drink. There’s still those low chemical flavours in there, and the bitterness of the low-quality alcohol, but it’s really effectively masked by the sour cherry flavour. Taking a few more swigs, I can taste more of the sourness at the back of the tongue, but it’s just like someone added “sour” to this, it doesn’t taste anything at all like a real sour cherry.

Verdict: That said, if I was looking to get a little buzz walking between my place and the train station, I wouldn’t hesitate to grab one of these from the case. It’s not quite as ‘put together’ as the standard flavours of chu-hai, but it’s an excellent addition to the family… Except it’s currently gone forever, so, uh, sorry?

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Review: Cheeza 77%

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Review: Cheeza 77%
Best Before: March 2013
Review: October 2013
Website: http://www.glico.co.jp/cheeza/

Well, we’ve dipped back into snacks that’ve gone past their best-before date again, but considering it’s an iteration of Cheeza that:

  1. I haven’t covered on this site
  2. Is no longer available in Japan
    and
  3. Did I mention it was Cheeza?

I decided to just give it a go anyway. Just in case it’s gone off, I’ve got my limited edition STRONG Cherry Chu-Hai to wash it all down / kill the ‘active ingredients’.

To be honest, I’m actually a little shocked at how quickly Glico churns through Cheeza flavours. On my last trip, Cheeza Basil Camembert was no longer available, nor was the tomato variety, and there were only 4 months between that trip and the one before it! I guess if you wanna be a true Cheeza connoisseur, you gotta get on those flavours quick!

Packaging: I’ve been practicing my Japanese but I still don’t have much (any) Kanji, so while I could suss-out the flavour as Camembert (apparently their go-to cheese!) I needed to do a little googling to figure out what else was going on. Apparently that big 1.5 on the bag refers to the increase of “cheesiness” by a multiplication factor of 1.5, generating a powerfully delicious taste! One of those times that I wish I read Japanese, because if I read anything resembling “A Powerfully Delicious Taste!” on any bag of anything, I’d be prrrrretty likely to buy it. Oh, and that Googling also revealed that there were officially a ‘limited edition’ item, that stopped being sold in… spring 2012. So, 1.5 year old snacks here, folks!

Oh, and as always, the image, resealable bag, and dual-purpose design that allows the bag to stand up OR hang from a hook is genius. I wish other cracker companies in Japan were taking notes.

Scent and Taste: Opening the bag was like being punched in the face with rich, buttery cheesiness.

As for the taste, wow! Even a few months past their prime these crackers are FANTASTIC. You can really taste the cheese, and it really is markedly stronger and ‘cheesier’ than the standard camembert Cheeza. There’s also a buttery texture on the tongue, even though the crackers themselves snap and crunch wonderfully. It’s almost too much… It’s like eating a bag of parmesan crisps, where you just melt parmesan cheese on a griddle and then let it cool. I mean, that’s delicious as a garnish, but a whole bag of that?

Hypocritically, I am still eating them now, even as I talk about the possibility of them being ‘too much.’

Verdict: These are incredible, but they might have been the first Cheeza that I actually used the resealable package for, to save them for later. Of course, I didn’t, but I did share them with my better half who described it as “eating delicious butter,” so at least I didn’t polish off the whole bag. I think it’s a shame that these aren’t still available, they’re the strongest and most enticing cheese cracker I’ve ever had. Who knows, maybe Glico will cycle them back into production soon…?

(As for how they interacted with the STRONG CHERRY CHU-HAI, well, you’re going to have to check out the next review!)

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Review: Cheeza 65% Camembert with Cream Cheese

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Review: Cheeza 65% Camembert with Cream Cheese
Gifted: July 2013
Best Before:  April 2014
Review: September 2013
Website: http://www.glico.co.jp/cheeza/cream.html

So I’ve become something of an evangelist for Cheeza crackers, simply because they are the best cheese crackers on earth and easily one of the greatest snacks I’ve ever tried. I was going back through my archives here, SHOCKED that I haven’t reviewed literally every flavour… I’m sorry you guys. I’m sorry.

For those of you who don’t know, Cheeza are cheese flavoured crackers, created b the good folks at Glico. They are made up of varying percentages of cheese, and then baked down into crackers, and they are delicious.

The fall into the category of “Otsumami” or, effectively, bar-snacks, and are usually stocked next to the booze at convenience stores, and usually consumed with your choice of imbibement (but usually beer). In fact, the official website has a pretty ‘direct’ serving suggestion:

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I mean, if she’s having a beer and a Cheeza, who am I to argue? And! Can I tell you how thrilled I am about this new Suntory x Glico campaign that is apparently starting soon…? Eeeeeeee! SO EXCITED!

Uh, now onto my impartial review. Thanks to Aki Yanagi for bringing these back from Japan for me!

Packaging: This is a bit of a departure for Cheeza, with the foil packaging shining without anything interfering. This must really pop on the store shelves, and I think it looks pretty classy. The rest of the packaging is to Cheeza’s high standard, with two different cheese images, product shots, and a couple of well-placed blurbs. The back’s serving suggestion (plate of Cheeza and a beer) is a true classic, and I’m glad I can’t figure out just HOW bad these must be for me because everything on the package except CHEEZA, nutrition info included, is in Japanese only. The foil package with a resealable zip-lock type opening is also appreciated, though frankly, unnecessary. I can’t remember a time I didn’t finish this off in one go.

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Scent and Taste: These smell great, really earthy and a little pungent. Very appetizing.

As for the taste? As compared to normal snacks, these are Cheeza, and so they’re phenomenal. The cream cheese adds a little more creaminess to the standard camembert Cheeza, and the crackers are crisp and crunchy. The combination is phenomenal, I highly recommend it.

Verdict: Within the pantheon of Cheeza though, how do these stack up? Well, honestly, Camembert Cheeza are basically perfect, and any time you add anything to them you run the risk of screwing that up. The Camembert with basil worked out very well, the tomato versions though… didn’t. Gorgonzola was hit-or-miss depending on your feelings about blue cheese. So cream cheese then, is basically an inoffensive addition that dials down the sharpness of the cheese a little but adds a creamier, full-mouth feeling. It’s nice, but the reason I eat Cheeza is to have the flavour just knock me out completely, and anything that takes away from that seems like… a mistake. It’s not though, I’m just being too picky, but given the choice between these and the standard Camembert, I’d probably go for the standard 9 times out of 10.

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