I was only joking in my last post when I suggested that junk food companies like Frito Lay could learn a little something from Japanese cuisine. Well apparently the joke was on me as I stumbled upon these two unusual snack items at my local Japanese grocery store:
On the left, Japanese chicken wing flavored snacks, and on the right, uni puffs! I know, I know, Doritos (made by Frito Lay) has a buffalo wing flavor now, so the wing flavor isn’t that much of a stretch, but still, Japanese-wing flavored, that’s intriguing! And sea urchin in a puff? Who can resist that? Let’s open the bags and take a closer look shall we?
As you can see, the wing snacks are shaped kind of like Cheetos (made by Frito Lay). The texture is the same too. But the flavor, wow, it’s something else altogether. In a good way. The predominant flavor is that of sansho pepper, and the salty notes come from flavors something like a cross between soy sauce, msg, and onion powder. But it’s those high notes of sansho pepper that make it addictive. Ok, and maybe the msg too (although it’s not listed in the ingredients, I really can’t believe there isn’t any in there). In any case, it’s a tasty treat and certainly worth buying again.
I had high hopes for the sea urchin puffs too, what with all those sexy close-up pics of uni on the packaging. But alas they were a letdown. They’re basically corn puffs and other than their uniformly large, wide C-shapes, they are identical to Puffed Cheez Doodles. Seriously, absolutely identical in texture and flavor. I bet if you snuck a bag of these into little Johnny’s lunchbox, he would just think you bought some generic cheesy puffs from the wholesale club instead of getting the name brand stuff. I tried hard to pick up on any slight trace of sea urchin flavor on my palate, but there just wasn’t any to be found from these. Too bad.
For the record, the uni puffs are made by a company called Meiji. Nice try, Meiji. If not for the bait-and-switch feeling I got from expecting to taste uni, I might have enjoyed them for what they are- pretty good cheesy puffs. Oh well. At least those Jap-wing snacks were good. And who makes those? Well, see for yourself: