I’m not a huge candy eater, but I do have a soft spot in my heart for Kit Kats. (For Mounds bars too, for that matter, but coconut is a practically nonexistent flavor here in Japan.) Kit Kats were always my favorite find in the Halloween candy bucket and the perfect “share-able” dessert since they crack so easily down the middle.
Which is why I was more than a little excited when I moved here to find out that Japan is known for its wacky and wild Kit Kat flavors. Below is a round-up of some of the more interesting flavors I have eaten lately:
1. Green Tea – Ah, the old standby. Matcha (green tea) crops up in nearly every Japanese dessert out there, from ice cream to mochi. So it only makes sense that Kit Kat would capitalize on this obsession with one of Japan’s largest cash crops. Green tea Kit Kats are surprisingly light, though that slightly grassy undertaste is never far behind, even in a chocolate bar.
2. Beniimo – Don’t let the color of this Kit Kat make you question its authenticity – beniimo, or Okinawan sweet potatoes, really are that purple. One of my guilty pleasures while leading tours to Naha’s Kokusai Street (the shopping mecca of the Okinawan islands) was the chance to snack on beniimo tarts at the ubiquitous purple sweet potato snack shops that lined the sidewalks. The beniimo Kit Kat manages to capture some of that natural sweetness, without descending too much into sugary overload.
3. Azuki – I’m afraid to let my daughter have even a bite of this Kit Kat for fear that she’ll find and devour the entire package while my back is turned. As a toddler, her current favorite snack is anpan, a bread roll filled with anko, or red bean paste, made from azuki beans. That distinctive flavor is very present in this Kit Kat, almost as an aftertaste but it’s there nonetheless.
4. Brown Sugar Syrup – Despite having lived in Okinawa, where brown sugar is a major crop, this is not a flavor I associate with Japanese cuisine. Rather, I’d have imagined the Canadians would do a bang up job on this, with their full bodied maple syrups. Yet I can’t complain about the Japanese version. It’s good. It’s maple-y. And if you like that, you won’t be disappointed.
5. Wasabi – Wow. Just wow. This is one potent candy bar. Alright, full disclosure. I’m the wuss who orders Spice Level -1 at the Japanese curry chain Coco Ichiban, so that right there should tell you I can’t take the “heat” all that well. And this candy bar has some heat. It’s not as much as the real deal, but I did feel my sinuses open up a bit more after eating this one.
Do YOU have a favorite Kit Kat flavor from your travels in Japan? What crazy candy discoveries have you made here?