Wednesday, May 5, 2010

KitKats: Royal Milk Tea, Ginger Ale, Bubbly Strawberry, Kinako Ohagi & Milk Coffee

While the news that KitKat is now available in both Dark and Milk Chocolate is hot news here in the United States, Nestle continues to churn out fantastically inventive versions for Japan.

KitKat Assortment 2010

Japanese KitKat are getting easier to find in the United States, I picked up mine in Little Tokyo at various grocery stores. The price is a bit steeper than an ordinary KitKat, usually between $2.00 and $3.00 depending on the variety and the store. (Here’s one store in Little Tokyo.)

Royal Milk Tea KitKat (Japan)Royal Milk Tea has oodles of imperial ingredients, like palm oil and tea extract.

I get the impression that Royal Milk Tea is the Japanese version of what we know here in the US as Thai Iced Tea, a strong black tea mixed with lot of sugar and milk (in the case of Thai Iced Tea the shortcut is sweetened condensed milk).

Royal Milk Tea KitKat (Japan)

It smells lovely though, like a cross between Jasmine and Earl Grey Tea. There are sweet vanilla notes and a little roasted barley or lapsang suchong in there. The actual texture of the white confection (a mixture of milk, palm oil and sugar) is a little greasy but otherwise smooth. The flavoring of the coating is mellow and a little spicy, like a hint of chai. Inside there’s more of a darker tea. It’s quite milky, as the whole Royal Milk Tea name might imply. I’m not much for milk in my tea, so that part of the confectionery simulation is lost on me.
Ginger Ale KitKat (Japan)Ginger Ale sounded fantastic and horrible all at once. Ginger Ale is a great beverage, best served ultra cold so that it bites on the tongue with the chill, the peppery ginger flavors and the tangy/sour bite of carbonation.

I didn’t know that Ginger Ale was that popular in Japan, but I guess it must be if there’s a KitKat for it. Or Nestle has run out of ideas to make into KitKats. (Where are my Pixy Stix KitKats?)

Ginger Ale KitKat (Japan)It smells like ginger ale, right out of the wrapper. It’s amazing how they did it, it’s at once like cola, lemon and ginger.

The flavor of the white confection outside is sweet and a little lemony. Inside the cream has a warm and woodsy burn of ginger. There are little specks and pops of sour, like carbonation.

It’s a weird bar. It’s not comforting like I find actual ginger ale. But then again it’s more exciting, probably because I’ve never had a candy bar like this before. I can’t say that I’d buy it again, but I can see where it has its place.

Bubbly Strawberry KitKat (Japan)Sparkling Strawberry KitKat had a pretty package. Pink and red with a couple of strawberries set off by oodles of little soda bubbles.

I wasn’t quite sure what the actual flavor was, is there a strawberry soda that it was referencing, like those Ramune ones? Was it supposed to be like strawberries in champagne?

After opening I at least found out that it was a pink, strawberry flavored confectionery coating with the standard wafers and a tangy strawberry creme between.

Bubbly Strawberry KitKat (Japan)

The berry confection is milky and has less of a strawberry flavor than I would like. It’s kind of like the milk at the bottom of a bowl of Frankenberry. The startling and inventive part of this bar is the cream filling. There are little “pops” of flavor which emulate carbonation well. They’re not pop rocks or fizzing powder. Instead they’re granules of what I’m guessing is citric acid and/or salt. So the tongue gets lots of little explosions of intense sour or salt. It’s a good mix and fun to eat. I would have preferred more strawberry flavor or even dark chocolate (so it’d be like a dark chocolate covered strawberry with a glass of champagne).

Kinako Ohagi KitKatKinako Ohagi KitKat shows a mochi with kinako (and probably bean paste inside). The idea of converting that into a KitKat, honestly, isn’t that appealing to me. I thought the red bean KitKat I tried a few years ago was interesting, but putting all the flavors of mochi into a KitKat just seems like too much. A KitKat is a KitKat and needs to maintain certain aspects. Throwing too many things into the mix just means that something is going to be done poorly and that leads to disappointment.

Kinako Ohagi KitKat

I was relieved to see that this was at least a milk chocolate bar.

It smells deep and roasted, milky and a little like corn chips. The milk chocolate is soft and fudgy but passably good. The wafers are crisp and crunchy and the kinako is, well, like soy powder. It’s a cross between the flavor of corn meal and peanut butter - it reminds me of protein supplements. The toasty flavors go very well with the wafers and milk chocolate. But the traditional KitKat was good before. This doesn’t make it better.

Sakura KitKatThe last one confused me (and I didn’t take a picture of it, but you can safely substitute the Royal Milk Tea. It’s Milk Coffee KitKat but based on the box I thought it was Sakura Tea or something. What I also didn’t properly note was that this was on of the KitKat mailers, a box that has a little “dear” and “from” form on the back so that you can give it to a student to wish them luck on exams.

It smells sweet and milky and just slightly off. Biting into it the first time, I thought I was being poisoned and had a bad package. The center cream was just intensely bitter. Then when I caught on that it wasn’t cherry and it was coffee the bitterness didn’t seem so caustic. But still intense. Too intense to allow actual coffee flavors.

At least it was called Milk Coffee, with the milk first I was getting much more of the sweet white confection than coffee notes. Chewing helped, instead of my usual eating of the cream as a layer. It just didn’t have the rounded and complex coffee notes, it reminded me instead of what I thought coffee was when I was seven or eight years old - expensive bitterness.

Overall I was less than impressed with the heavy use of white confection instead of actual chocolate. (Nestle has been in trouble lately with animal activists over its use of poorly/unethically/unsustainably farmed palm oil - their response here.) I guess I’ve found after all this exploration (trying about three dozen different kinds over the years) that the plain old ones are great and the ones made with even better chocolate are phenomenal. They don’t need fancy flavors. But I’m not going to begrudge anyone who wants to have a little fun now and then.

Related Candies

  1. Ginger Chews: Hot Coffee
  2. Japanese KitKats: Yuzu & Red Bean Soup
  3. Vanilla Beans KitKat & Bitter Orange Aero
  4. KitKat Temptations: Hazelnut & Coconut
  5. KitKat Chocolatier (Strawberry & Green Tea)
  6. KitKat Milkshake
  7. Pocky Kurogoma (Black Sesame)
  8. Head-to-Head KitKat vs KitKat!


Name: KitKat Royal Milk Tea
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: Marukai (Little Tokyo)
Price: $2.08
Size: 1.26 ounces
Calories per ounce: 157
Categories: Candy, Nestle, Cookie, KitKat, Mockolate, White Chocolate, 5-Pleasant, Japan


Name: KitKat Ginger Ale
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: Marukai (Little Tokyo)
Price: $2.08
Size: 1.26 ounces
Calories per ounce: 157
Categories: Candy, Nestle, Cookie, Ginger, KitKat, Mockolate, White Chocolate, 5-Pleasant, Japan


Name: KitKat Bubbly Strawberry
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: Marukai (Little Tokyo)
Price: $2.08
Size: 1.26 ounces
Calories per ounce: 157
Categories: Candy, Nestle, Cookie, KitKat, Mockolate, White Chocolate, 5-Pleasant, Japan


Name: KitKat Kinako Ohagi
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: Marukai (Little Tokyo)
Price: $2.08
Size: 1.26 ounces
Calories per ounce: 157
Categories: Candy, Nestle, Cookie, KitKat, Mockolate, White Chocolate, 5-Pleasant, Japan


Name: KitKat Milk Coffee
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Nestle
Place Purchased: Marukai (Little Tokyo)
Price: $2.08
Size: 1.26 ounces
Calories per ounce: 157
Categories: Candy, Nestle, Cookie, KitKat, Mockolate, White Chocolate, 5-Pleasant, Japan

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:32 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyReviewNestleChocolateCoffeeCookieGingerKitKatMockolateWhite Chocolate5-PleasantJapan

Comments
  1. Anyone know a location near Philly that carries these?

    Comment by Whotony on 5/05/10 at 6:29 pm #
  2. Another thing in the Kit Kat genre that is worth a taste are the various kinds of Kex available in Sweden and elsewhere in Northern Europe. Basic Kex are available at any Ikea, but there are also specialty kinds of Kex that I’ve never seen in the US.

    Particularly worthy of note are Dark Chocolate Kex, which are made with (good) dark chocolate free of butterfat or vegetable oils! Dark Chocolate Kex (Kex Choklad) are absolutely divine and are so much better than any Kit Kat on the market both because the ingredients are higher-quality and because the chocolate to wafer ratio is much better.

    Comment by Brendan on 5/05/10 at 6:54 pm #
  3. I really loved the Ginger Ale one. I got it at the Marukai on Redondo Beach Blvd, but can’t seem to find it near me (I’m in Santa Monica). I wish I’d gotten more than one when I was down there. hmmm

    Comment by Travis on 5/06/10 at 1:19 am #
  4. My local Japanese convenience store in NYC is starting to get these.  I missed ginger ale (literally—the guy in front of me bought the last one in the store), but I’ve had the coffee and Royal Milk Tea.  I agree that the coffee is quite bitter.  I occasionally buy the drink Royal Milk Tea—indeed, it’s sweet, milky iced tea (what they think Brits drink)—and it was a little scary how well the KitKat approximated the beverage’s flavor.

    Comment by Stephanie on 5/06/10 at 8:40 am #
  5. My favorite recent release is the Maple Syrup flavor… again, white chocolate (white confection?) but the quality is super high and the taste is crazy addictive!

    Comment by Ruffy on 5/06/10 at 10:03 am #
  6. Just an FYI: Royal Milk Tea is different from Thai Iced Tea. Royal Milk Tea is milder and more floral while Thai Iced Tea is stronger and bitter. Plus Thai Iced Tea uses red or black tea leaves brewed with herbs and spices to get its characteristic burnt orange colour.

    Comment by Streaker on 5/10/10 at 12:54 pm #
  7. Cybele's avatar

    Streaker - I didn’t mean to imply that it’s the same thing, I was saying that the only thing that you can order around here that’s anywhere near Royal Milk Tea is Thai Iced Tea. To give folks a point a reference. Thank you for the additional info for readers on the difference in taste & ingredients.

    Ruffy - I missed the Maple ones, though that’s certainly up my alley.

    Stephanie - yeah, I’m not that keen on the iced versions of hot drinks, so any authenticity is lost on me. Thanks for the first hand report!

    Travis - I think the Marukai on Redondo is probably the best one, isn’t it?

    Brendan - Okay, I’m going to get a hold of some Kex now! Thanks for the tip.

    Whotony - you can always order on eBay if you can’t find a store. Sometimes “Chinatown” stores have Japanese candies. (China doesn’t have nearly the selection of candy that Japan does as their culture is more into baked goods.)

    Comment by Cybele on 5/10/10 at 1:05 pm #
  8. Random fact:

    Parents in Japan love giving their children kitkats during exam periods because kitkats in Japanese sounds like “kitto katsu” which means something like “you’ll definitely win!”.

    Comment by iyreia on 5/12/10 at 6:51 am #
  9. I found the dark chocolate one and the sakura one in Japan town. I really like the dark chocolate one. The flavor reminded me of a rich cocoa powder. I wouldn’t pay the $2+ for it again, but it was certainly a nice treat.
    For some reason I thought the pink one was milk tea. Now I’m not sure if I should send it to my friend knowing that it’s coffee.

    Comment by Heather on 5/12/10 at 4:19 pm #
  10. Does anyone know where to buy Japanese Kit Kats in Chicago? Thanks.

    Comment by Lauren on 5/12/10 at 9:50 pm #
  11. I hate to be “that person” but sometimes my inner Asian feels compelled to correct certain details:

    * Hong Kong style or Taiwanese style milk tea usually consists of a strong black tea with condensed milk, which is why it comes out deliciously brown.

    * Thai iced tea usually consists of a sweetened red/Ceylon tea (hence the delightfully orange color) that is topped with half and half.  I’ve yet to have one made with condensed milk.  smile

    With the Royal milk tea, I’m GUESSING it’s fashioned after Hong Kong style, w/ all its British influence on its tea culture.  But that would just be my personal speculation.

    ::adjusts glasses nerdily::

    Comment by Alice on 10/04/11 at 11:59 am #
  12. I have had the ginger ale (alright but not great)
    Royal milk tea and bubbly strawberry are the ones I wanna try now

    Comment by Rebecca on 1/14/14 at 3:47 pm #

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