Japan collectively has something of a thing for the mysterious Moai heads on Easter Island. They tend to crop up as a motif in all sorts of places over here and, in this case, they’re being used for a chocolate biscuit snack (I really actually recommend clicking that link) by Bandai, makers of all manner of character-related merchandise. One side is a simple wheat biscuit and the other is a very pleasant, rich milk chocolate carefully crafted into the shape of a Moai head. If you’re familiar with Alfort, think a slightly bigger, Moai-themed single serving of that. Delicious and weirdly cute!
Purchased from: Yaks (the drug store)
Available at: selected drug stores, selected supermarkets
Status: seasonal (?) (summer), recurring
Price: 52 yen
Among Bourbon‘s many sweet treats are these, Pineapple Blanche cakes. Each box contains five individually wrapped sponge cakes with a filling of cream and pineapple pieces and a firm, delicately pineapple flavoured icing. They appeared last summer too and their return this year, along with a peach variation, is a nice surprise!
Bought from: Mamimart
Available at: various supermarkets
Status: Seasonal (summer), recurring
Price: 198 yen
With summer having started, whether or not you put much stock in the rainy season that precludes it, the refreshing sweets have well and truly infiltrated the shelves on convenience stores. “Salty” versions of regular flavours are on such and thus Morinaga‘s Dars has a Salty Vanilla box of chocolates out. They’re quite pleasant, a light vanilla flavour with a mild hint of salt encased in creamy Dars chocolate, and worth a try!
Bought from: Family Mart
Available at: Most convenience stores and some larger supermarkets
Status: Seasonal, limited
Price: 168 yen (varies a bit, but usually less than 200 yen)
Cacao Marché is one of those brands that has been available for awhile in the chocolate gift box section of department stores, offering up beautiful little chocolates for a not too high price. However, a recent collaboration with the ubiquitous Family Mart convenience stores has made it a lot more visible and I am very glad of it.
The sand cookies are basically cream-filled cookies – when they say sand, think a sandwich-looking cookie like an Oreo rather than the stuff of beaches – but they’re delicious. The biscuits are pleasantly firm and nice enough, but it’s the filling that makes them, rich, smooth and just melt-in-your-mouth. I have a personal preference for the bitter chocolate ones but the others are also delightful!
Bought at: FamilyMart convenience store
Available at: larger FamilyMart/Circle K/Sunkus convenience stores, the gift section of selected department stores
Cost: 197 yen for one cookie
Status: Currently available but unclear for how long
Summer is only just officially starting and that means that so-called cooling flavours have well and truly made their arrival for the season amongst the sweets of Japan. One of them is the Weekend Citron Donut from Tully’s. While I don’t think it will quite conquer the sheer wrath of the Japanese summer and I’m not sure what’s so weekend-ish about it, it is absolutely delicious. A citrus flavour infuses the icing of the Donut, lending got a tart edge that only enhances the sweetness of the Donut itself, which is a soft, cake-like texture that feels just right.
I feel like this latest offering from Yuraku, the Big Thunder Coconut, may have been around before, gone away, and then come back again? I’m not entirely sure but, whether this is really new or a return, it’s still a welcome one! A coconut-infused cookie base is coated in delicious chocolate and, a very cheap 50 yen (plus tax), it’s well worth a try!
A thing some chocolate manufacturers are doing lately is stressing the location from which the cocoa has come to highlight taste differences. If you’re familiar with cafes going on about their coffee beans, it’s kind of like that. TopValu, Aeon supermarkets’ “home brand” has gotten in on the act with their “choco tablet” range, showing offf different cocoa sources and their variations in a collection of truly beautiful boxes. I’m honestly not sure to what extent the flavour truly varies and reminding me of where the chocolate comes from just reminds me of the conditions in which cocoa farmers work. I wouldn’t think I was that alone in the latter or that it was all that conducive to business. Also, is it really that much of a mental leap to then remember the Aeon is actually taking over a ton of supermarkets and convenience stores in recent years? And this also isn’t a sales-friendly train of thought? Hmm.
Anyway! I picked up the Indonesia box, mostly because my sister speaks Indonesian; for all I love chocolate, my palate isn’t that discerning. I am happy to say I really enjoyed it too, despite the guilt trip. It was dark but not too bitter, and the texture was lovely. I’ll probably wind up investigating the rest of the range at some point to see what the variations actually are!