Crisps · Foreign Foods

Japanese Snack Box (Umaibo)

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More corn based snacks from my big box of Japanese goodies today. If you don’t know what Umaibo are, I’ll let Wikipedia explain:

Umaibo (うまい棒?) or “delicious stick” is a small, puffed, cylindrical corn snack from Japan. There are many flavours available including savoury flavours, such as salad, takoyaki and cheese, and sweet flavours, such as cocoa, caramel and chocolate. Some flavours were discontinued and some became a staple. Some are only available in specific locations, such as tourist spots.  

 

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I received a fairly varied mix of Umaibo, ranging from the weird to the wonderful! They’re basically one enormous crisp instead of the 20 odd little ones you’d get in a bag of our crisps. They keep that texture I adored in the bags of corn crisps – a meatier Wotsit or Cheeto, one with a bit of bite to it but it still inevitably melts on the tongue. I must say, it was a bit strange holding what essentially is a crisp and taking a bite out of it!

Chicken Curry

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A fairly standard Asian flavour – Chicken Curry – and one I know and love, the Umaibo smelt just like an authentic (well probably not at all in the U.K) chicken curry and even had the not very nice yellowy creamy chicken curry colour.

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It did have quite a corn taste to it to begin with but I did taste a chicken too and then the immediately identifiable curry flavour. The chicken and curry flavours were tasty but it was a shame they were two separate flavours rather than one general chicken curry. Still, very nice!

Cheese

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I was surprised to find a cheese flavour as everything I’ve read online seems to suggest it isn’t a large part of an Asian diet. Any worries on whether it’d be like any Western cheese went straight out the window once I opened the wrapper up. The photo doesn’t show the neon orange and smell-o-vision unfortunately hasn’t been invented, so you’ll have to take my word for how strong a Cheddar scent it had!

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I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is the cheesiest tasting cheese flavoured product I’ve eaten in my life. In fact, this is cheeseier than some actual cheeses I’ve had! It’s a proper cheese flavour, not like a Quaver/Wotsit/Cheeto – it tastes like a lump of Cheddar Cheese. Delicious!

Takoyaki

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Takoyaki is “a ball shaped snack made of a wheat based batter. It is typically filled with a minced or diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger and green onion. They are brushed with takoyaki sauce (similar to Worcestershire sauce) and mayonnaise”  thank you Wikipedia!

I did not know what to expect from an Octopus filled anything and the sight of it alarmed me a little to say the least!

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I needn’t have worried – it’s delicious! It smelt strongly of vinegar with a hint of a fish’n’chip shop and strangely enough that’s just how it tasted! Largely like soy sauce – sweet but acidic – but with the weird taste of batter mixed in! I noticed nothing fishy about it and at this point, was the one I’d pick again every time.

Salami

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Salami should be a fairly safer flavour but I can’t say the way it smelt had me too excited. It did smell like Salami and kind of a general European continental smoked meat but it smelt a bit like when you open a packet of cheap dodgy ham… You know, ham fart?

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I must say I was quite pleased when it didn’t taste like that though. In fact, rather than much salami or meat it just tasted like a mixture of the corn and a general herb flavour. Comparing the way it looks to the others though might explain a few things as this has the least flecks of seasoning and the most corn coloured hue. Maybe I got a dud, it wasn’t bad though!

Natto

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Natto are basically fermented soy beans. How delicious does that sound…

They do not smell good and I’ll be leaving it there – trust me.

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Truthfully? I thought these were disgusting. The flavour is an awful mix of something musky and something extremely sharp and acidic. I wouldn’t eat this flavour again full stop and if I’m ever lucky enough to make it to Japan, based on this, I think I’ll be swerving the real deal too. Yuck.

Yakitori 

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I hoped I’d left the last of the “normal” Umaibo flavours till last, Yakitori. Yakitori is basically Japanese skewered chicken grilled over charcoal. So a kind of barbecue chicken!

It did have a very familiar smell, kind of chicken-esque but not like normal roast chicken crisps.

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My God, this was my favourite by far. It lost most of the chicken flavour but it had an incredible mix of a sweet soy style flavour and the weirdest but most delicious charcoal, chargrilled barbecue flavour. Not BBQ but barbecue like someone had taken my little corn stick and shoved it on the barbie for a bit! It was sticky, sweet and smokey and I bloody loved it! If I never get to eat this again I’ll die a sad woman!

Overall 

Umaibo are absolutely brilliant! I only had a very small sample of all the flavours and beside Salami the flavours were strong and authentic. The texture was great and the novelty of eating one giant crisp stick was fun too. I liked these so much we’ve actually spent the weekend hunting Asian supermarkets in the hope of getting more right now – I don’t want to wait for delivery!!

If you get the chance to try these take it!

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