Friday, May 30, 2008

Japanese Black Sugar & Tropical Chews

This short work-week has been a bit of a round-up period, I’m doing a lot of these short reviews in long posts to try to cover a lot of the candy I have.

Morinaga Black Sugar CaramelI first had these a couple of years ago, at a time when I was gobbling up every Japanese black sugar candy I could get my hands on. Japanese black sugar (kuro sato) traditionally comes from Okinawa and is similar to molasses or muscovado sugar.

I couldn’t resist buying a few boxes of the Morinaga Black Sugar Caramel (Kokutou) in my last order from JList, mostly because I was also ordering other black sugar items and wanted to remind myself.

They don’t look like much, but the little bullion cube sized morsels are packed with dark creamy flavor. Not too sweet and just slightly rummy at the end. They come in oodles of other flavors. I’ve tried the original Milk Caramel, Matcha, Black Sesame and Azuki, but I always come back to the Black Sugar.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Chelsea Black SugarWhile Morinaga has their line of milk caramels, Meiji has their toffee squares called Chelsea that similarly come in many varieties: Yogurt Scotch, Butterscotch, Matcha, Azuki and even mixes like Dessert.

When I saw that the Black Sugar Chelsea variety was available in the single flavor box, I jumped and ordered three packs.

The design aesthetic of the Chelsea line can’t be beat. The little box with it’s slide tray & bronzy flower design is easily distinguished from the other flavors, yet easily identified from a distance as Chelsea.

The flat pack box is easy to stash in a pocket as well, and the individual wrappers keep it all fresh.

Chelsea Black SugarThe little foil wrappers are gold with brown and magenta flowers. I wish I was more crafty and motivated, because these would make a stellar bracelet or bag. I’m saving the wrappers, just in case.

The smooth tile of candy has no voids. Though it’s sweet, it’s pretty mellow and milky, kind of like a chai without the spice. There’s a background of woodsy flavors like brown sugar. It’s not as intensely “black sugar” as I’d like, but these are really refreshing. They don’t feel heavy and have a sort of jasmine tea finish that feels so fresh.

Chelsea also comes in bags with plastic wrapped pieces. I don’t like those as much, I really like the foil wrappers (though they’ve done a nice job of designing the sealed wraps).

Rating: 9 out of 10

Banana & Tropical Fruit HiCHEW

Even though I already had two packs of Banana HiCHEW sitting around from a trip to Mitsuwa Marketplace earlier this year, I just had to order the Tropical Mix along with the Pineapple.

The Tropical Mix package seems to promise peach, white grape, banana and pineapple. I’d assumed that this was a mixed flavor package. But when I opened it I found that each piece was identically wrapped. Sadly (well for me and my silly expectations) it was a fruit punch and not a mixed pack. The flavor of the fruit punch is actually quite nice, I can actually detect the peachy and banana flavors in there.

My Pineapple HiCHEW were backordered (probably because I bought three packs). I was certain they were good and I wasn’t disappointed. They have a light yellow center and were extremely fresh and soft.

They start sweet then build with a tangy and kind of woodsy pine essence. The flavor lasts all the way to the end and still leaves a fresh feeling in the mouth.

Banana Rating: 7 out of 10
Tropical Rating: 6 out of 10
Pineapple Rating: 9 out of 10

Tsubu Tsubu Hi-chew Chocolate BananaI bought these on a lark. Last year I picked up something called UHA Puccho Baked Custard, which sounds dreadful but it was pretty dreamily good. Of course I wanted to buy it again and have had no luck finding it. (It probably said limited edition on the wrapper, but I don’t read Japanese.)

So when I saw this Tsubu Tsubu HiCHEW Chocolate Banana, I thought that sounded something like a custard-like chew. For $1.25 I could take a chance.

It’s a HiCHEW banana base, soft and bouncy and included in the chew are little things that look like large nonpariels (sprinkles). I guess that’s supposed to be the chocolate part. It’s not really. The crunch is nice but not as well defined as the Puccho does with their gummi & crunchy inclusions.

While I think that HiCHEW is made for people of all ages, my guess is that the Tsubu Tsubu is probably for kids and my grown-up palate just couldn’t get into it.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Related Candies

  1. HiCHEW Yuzu & Valencia
  2. Das French Salted Caramels
  3. HiCHEW Assortment
  4. Almond Crush Pocky
  5. Bali’s Best Coffee & United Coffee Candy
  6. Meiji Mild Bitter Chocolate Sticks
Name: Black Sugar candies & Tropical HiCHEWs
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Morinaga & Meiji
Place Purchased: JList
Price: $1.00 - $1.50 a pack
Size: varies
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Toffee, Caramel, Chew, Japan, Meiji, Morinaga

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:26 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. Well, I was excited to see my name emblazoned in half-inch letters on a candy box.  And, 9/10…not bad for little ol’ me…hehe smile

    Comment by Chelsea on 5/30/08 at 9:53 am #
  2. Ahh, Chelsea! *swoon*

    This reminds me I still have the pineapple HiChew sitting untouched in my stash. Time to remedy that…

    Comment by Sera on 5/30/08 at 10:39 am #
  3. I love the flavor of Japanese black sugar/kurosato as well. It’s also good with kinako (soybean flour). There’s a petit kinako mochi chocolate that comes in a small bag that should be available at Mitsuwa ... it’s quite unique and pleasant too, so you may wanna give those a try!

    Comment by Verena on 5/30/08 at 2:53 pm #
  4. Oh, and I was disappointed by the tsubu tsubu chocolate banana hi-chews as well. The creme brulee ones and apple custard ones were definitely better, especially with the crispy caramelized bits in them! Too bad they were only a limited edition candy.

    Comment by Verena on 5/30/08 at 3:03 pm #
  5. I really like the packaging, I hate when you find and love a limited edition- because we know it will be canceled..

    One of my favorites are the LOTTE Greentea chocolate bar—have not found it again = )

    Comment by Girl Japan on 8/05/08 at 5:55 pm #
  6. Not one to indulge on sweets, I’ll probably like all of these. I love Okinawa black sugar and the chews with the bits in the middle. Banana, custard… smile

    Comment by adekun on 8/13/08 at 6:49 pm #
  7. Ooohh… Chelsea… I love the butterscotch. I have a yogurt scotch box lying around, too, but I haven’t got to tasting it, yet.

    Comment by Carleene on 12/27/08 at 4:22 pm #
  8. I was also wondering if you have reviewed the little strawberry chocolates in the meiji assortment box… Those things are really good. The triangle shaped ones.

    Comment by Carleene on 12/29/08 at 5:09 pm #
  9. Tried the caramels when I was visiting my mom down in LA for two weeks. She’d never been to the Japanese market there, since she wanted to go with someone who would actually know what a lot of the stuff was(me). She gave me money to go buy some stuff there while she was at work one day, and I bought two boxes of caramels, along with some other things. I bought the black sugar box, along with the slightly-golden box(I don’t know what flavour that is). I’m not really a fan of either sort, but she loved them.

    Comment by Christle on 4/16/10 at 10:35 pm #
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