Japan Crate May 2016 Review

May is here and so is another box of snacks and treats from Japan. This is the first month featuring the new, larger boxes with more snacks.

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As usual Japan Crate includes a booklet / mini-manga that explains what everything is and has various additional content. A bonus in all crates this month is a random Kitty Cups gashapon. Ridiculous but cute. On to the edibles.

 

The Excellent

As I’ve previously mentioned, I adore cola flavored candy. So Premium exclusives PachiPachi Panic Cola and Kajirittyo Cola Candy are exactly to my tastes. The former is a crackling candy with a mix of sour lemon in it, and the later a soft chewy rope candy with a cider flavored center. Both provide a nice combination of flavors. I also received an unlisted bonus Sour Cola Gummy Rope, which was quite good.

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The chocolate treats also continue to shine. Puku Puku Taichoco is a taiyaki cookie with a airy chocolate filling. Another Big Bar Z variation was included, and it tasted just as divine as the last one. It’s a wafer bar infused with chocolate flavor, this one White Choco. This is the clear star of this month’s box.

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.Sakusaku Panda Cookies are cute cookies with a chocolate back.  These tiny, crunchy snacks are quite tasty. Another of the Premium exclusives is King’s Lost Crown, a large cookie with a creamy chocolate filling.

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The Decent

The Premium drink this month is Hajikete Grape Cidera light, smooth drink that taste like grape soda.

There are two possible types of chips, and I got Nori Shio Potato Chips. This salted seaweed flavored snack is quite good and features a flavor unique to Japanese snacks.

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An advertised bonus for the Premium Crate that’s unlisted in the book is Japanese Oreo Snack. I got macadamia nut mini candy bars. Great inclusion.

Nomuccho Jelly is a simple DIY that produces a melon jelly when mixed with water. The consistency varies depending on how long it’s allowed to sit.

 

Caramel Corn is an interesting snack with the consistency of cheese puffs but the flavor of Cracker Jack.

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Pandaro Cookies are the second panda themed cookie this time. It’s a light, crispy butter cookie.

Sour Cider Gum is lightly flavored with another flavor unique to Japanese treats.

 

The Meh

Mochitto Kinako Mochi is traditional soybean flour covering mochi, a Japanese rice cake. This is a good inclusion, again highlighting things unique to Japanese snacks. I just personally didn’t care for the taste.

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Big Mashuro~ is indeed a big marshmallow. Hachimitsu 100% are hard candies made of honey. I like honey, but didn’t care for the flavor of these personally.

 

Conclusion

Strong start for the “new” Japan Crate. The bigger box and more snacks makes this an excellent value, and the Premium upgrade is back to easily being more than worth the extra $5.

This is my last crate for now due to budgetary restrictions, but the changes are great and I highly recommend trying out Japan Crate for yourself.

Japan Crate April 2016 Review

April is here and so is another box of snacks and treats from Japan.

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As usual Japan Crate includes a booklet / mini-manga that explains what everything is and has various additional content. A small plastic otter from AMUSE called Kawauso No Kotsume is the promised “make-up item” for past shipping delays. Whatever. On to the edibles.

 

The Excellent

Puru Mocchi Grape is the best of the three gummies this month, with both tart and sweet flavor overtones. I also enjoyed the variety, flavors and texture of the Fruit Shop Gummy  a lot.

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Sherbert Pero Cola  was described as a combination of Fun Dip and Pop Rocks, and that’s pretty accurate. The hard power style lollipop is cola flavored and the dipping powder designed to add a fizzy taste/texture. A unique, tasty candy.

The chocolate treats continue to shine, as the airy Caplicocot chocolate hearts and the panda decorated Sakupan Giant Wafer chocolate cookie were easily my overall favorites this month.

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The Decent

We got another version of Fue Ramune this month. They have consistency similar to mint lifesavers (though “break” easier when chewed) and taste strongly of the named drink. They are shaped to create a whistling sound for added amusement. 123 Green Apple Gum is exactly as the title implies, and fine for what it is.

Rock, Paper, Scissor Gummy has been sent before, but it’s still amusing and the cola flavor keeps it high in my estimation.

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Chip Star Ebikoubashi and Calbee Shrimp Chips both feature the unique Japanese snack flavor. The former have the consistency of Pringles and are a nice variation. I’ve had the latter before, but not in the Hot Garlic flavor I received (there were four possible). Good inclusions here.

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The Premium drink was Pineapple Soda. Nice, light soda that tastes as advertised.

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Waku Waku Zoo Animal DIY is one of the best DIY’s they’ve included.

 

The strawberry and lemon “doughs” included were didn’t require any added water or mixing, which was nice. Just take them out of the package and place into the molds as desired. Add the lollipop sticks and close the molds for a few seconds and they make cutely shaped gummy lollipops they have a good, chewy texture.

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There was enough dough to make two “batches” (four lollipops) and experiment with the flavor combinations a bit. Very nice overall.

 

The Meh

Wow, Such Banana?! is supposedly back by popular demand. It’s a banana shaped/flavored marshmallow treat filled with chocolate, if you can call a tiny thread running through the center “filled with.” The chocolate was tastable though and this wasn’t bad but I personally didn’t need it repeated so it gets a meh this time around, especially as one of the few Premium exclusives.

 

Conclusion

Good batch this month, with numerous original and varied snacks. I am getting a bit disillusioned with the Premium upgrades though, as they’ve decreased in number and are now containing repeats. The good news is they’ve just announced upgrades to the number of items and inclusion of brand name snacks starting next month (with Japanese Oreos).

This was the last crate of my subscription and I’ll likely have to stop soon due to budgetary restrictions, but I’m continuing at least one more month to check out the promised changes. I’m still enjoying Japan Crate a great deal overall a year into my experience with them.

Japan Crate March 2016 Review

March is here and so is another box of snacks and treats from Japan.

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As usual Japan Crate includes a booklet / mini-manga that explains what everything is and has various additional content.

The Excellent

Yuki No Yado Chips are said to be a rice cracker variation and have a “snow-like” frosting. The balance of sweet and salty is perfect and this was easily my favorite snack this time.

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The first of several great crunchy chocolate treats this month was Furuta Dodeka Bar, one of the Premium exclusives. Fantastic 10 inch candy bar resembling a lighter textured Nestle Crunch.

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The Premium bonus item was Sakupan Land chocolate covered cookies. Each was printed with a different panda face. They came in almond cream, caramel chocolate, and dark chocolate. I got the dark chocolate version and they were delicious. In the same vein and equally tasty were 7 Stick Choco Cream, a batch of seven chocolate filled crunchy wafers.

 

The Decent

Fue Ramune have consistency similar to mint lifesavers (though “break” easier when chewed) and taste strongly of the named drink. They are shaped to create a whistling sound and come with a mini toy for added amusement.

Three more varieties of Umaino Sticks included this month. All three (teriyaki, corn potage, and pizza) were good and tasted reasonably like their advertised flavor.

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Two Yaokin Roll Candies were included: strawberry and green apple. These were sweet, sticky versions of fruit roll ups. I preferred the strawberry, but both were good and had decent flavor to them.

The Premium drink was either Sangaria Ume Soda or Yogu Time. I got the yogurt drink in orange flavor. It’s a nice, light drink, somewhat reminiscent of Sunny Delight with a creamier taste.

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My Kasugai Gummy flavor was pineapple, so along with the Pine-ame Gummy I got two types of such flavored gummy candies this month. They had slightly different texture and flavor, and made a nice contrast. The other possible Kasugai Gummy flavors were lychee, peach, and ramune.

The Meh

There were two possible DIY Kits this month, and I got Choco Kinako Mochi DIY. I have to say I didn’t care for the kinako, and the rehydrated mochi pellets could have been better. I do appreciate it’s inclusion as something unique and different, regardless of not liking it personally.

 

Conclusion

I’m impressed with the number of different flavors and variations possible in this month’s crate. It adds to the surprise and fun. The snacks themselves were largely great, and this was possibly the best crate I’ve gotten yet.

Japan Crate: Lucky Crate Review

Japan Crate recently ran a special promotion called “Lucky Crates.” These crates were half the price of their Premium Crates and filled with 10 snacks from previous crates. Random crates would also contain special prizes (or redemption vouchers for larger things).

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The insert included was a great touch, as it showed and explained all of the possible snacks as well as highlighting the special prizes. I did not receive any of the special prizes, but the box contents themselves were good. There was a coupon included as sort of a conciliation prize ($7 off a crate), but it expired 3 days from the target arrival date and was only good for new subscribers. So instead of being a nice gesture it was kind of a slap in the face to regular costumers. “Sorry you didn’t win anything. Here’s something you can’t use instead!”

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I got two of these, and they were practically identical. The only difference between the two was one had Konpetio Sugar Candy and the other had Soda Mixing Jelly Beans. The other nine items were exactly the same between the two boxes. I’m sure there was more variety in general, which makes it a little disappointing that there wasn’t effort made to better randomize the prepared boxes before filling orders for multiples.

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The Excellent

I adore soda flavored candy, so was quite happy to get Soda Mixing Jelly Beans (in one crate) and Poifull Soda Beans. Both are excellent yet different in flavor.

Sweet Corn Pretz are quite good and taste exactly like they are supposed to.

Chocolate Pucca are delicious pretzel shells filled with chocolate.

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The Decent

Grape Gummy Ribbon has a nice, slightly tart grape flavor and a very unique soft, almost dough-ish texture.

Vitamin C Lemon Drops are exactly what they sound like – a lemon flavored hard candy loaded with Vit C.

Konpeito is described as a traditional Japanese candy from the 16th century. It’s pieces of what’s generally called rock candy over here. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in such small, relatively uniform pieces. Ok, but I vastly preferred the soda jelly beans I got in the other box.

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Meiji Dice Caramel are amusingly packaged caramel candies. Fun inclusion, but a bit too sweet for me.

Two previous Premium exclusive drinks were included. Chunosuke Water is a nice, lightly flavored drink and Creamy Melon Soda tastes exactly as described.

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The Meh

Lemon Squash is quite interesting, as it’s a soft plastic bottle of a mild lemonade packaged like a snack. I found it bland, but it certainly will have its appeal among others. 

 

Conclusion

While I had a couple small complaints about the execution overall the Lucky Crates were a great deal, particularly for new customers or ones who don’t get Premium and haven’t had the drinks. Would I get another one if they did this again? Absolutely. Is it worth getting more than one at a time? Absolutely not.

Japan Crate February 2016 Review

February is here and so is another box of snacks and treats from Japan.

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As usual Japan Crate includes a booklet / mini-manga that explains what everything is and has various additional content.  The Premium bonus item this month is Mini Ramen Bowl plastic toys. Detailed and amusing. As a little unlisted bonus, my box contained a few green tea KitKats. I’ve had them before and love them so this was a pleasant surprise inclusion.

Now let’s look at the other edibles.

The Excellent

Gummies and soda flavored candies continue to be my favorites, and I got a couple of each this month. Yaokin Budou Grape Gummies (a Premium exclusive) have a nice texture and the taste of grape juice. Twinbo Drink Gummies have a great sour taste with two of four flavors (cola, ramune, lime and lemon) per piece.

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Coris Grape and Soda Kajirittyo is more of the wonderful taffy candy that has the consistency of gum but dissolves. We need candy like this in the US.  Toppu Trio Gum are individually wrapped soft sticks of gum in cola, cider and grape flavors.

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Petit Pastel Ice Cream Cookies & Chocolate are tiny candy covered wafers with a chocolate shell shaped to look like ice cream cones and dishes. Amusing and delicious.

The Decent

Super Lemon hard candies have three layers of varying intensity of lemon flavor. Yaokin Moguchuu Strawberry are decent taffy-type candy.

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Chip Star Norishio corrects my complaint from last month’s crate, as Seaweed and Salt is definitely not a potato chip flavor common to the US. They were quite good too. 

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This month’s Premium Crate’s drink is Ramune. Being it’s been included before and I’m quite familiar with it in general it would have been nice to get one of the more unusual possible flavors they had, but regardless original is still a pretty tasty drink.

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The DIY Kit was Heart Ltd. Oekaki Choco, which makes a chocolate lollipop with little crunchy candies throughout. I skipped painstakingly arranging the candies into patterns, which had no impact on the taste. 😉

 

The Meh

Nericcho Soft Cider/Strawberry Cones were listed as a “Shipping Bonus” for all crates, but given the Original tier only had 3 items this time it really just brought the count back to expected for anything above mini. The idea here was fine, with a powder mix to make a foam candy to put into mini ice cream cones. Unfortunately the cones were beyond stale, making this worthless.

Conclusion

 

Despite receiving my first stale item in any of my boxes, this month got back on track overall with the kind of unusual, diverse, and tasty snacks I look for from Japan Crate.

Japan Crate January 2016 Review

January is here and so I begin the year with another box of snacks and treats from Japan.

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As usual Japan Crate includes a booklet / mini-manga that explains what everything is and has various additional content. No DIY kit this month due to shipping issues, so a random surprise item was included in every crate. There were apparently a few big prizes mixed in. I got a squishy toy that looks like a face made of bread (so weird) and some decent chewy strawberry candies. Kudos to Japan Crate for always trying to make up for it when things don’t go quite right.

Now let’s look at the rest.

The Excellent

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I don’t know if I buy the Premium exclusive Gaba Infused Stress Relieving Milk Chocolate‘s extraneous claims, but it’s smooth and delicious chocolate none the less. Sparkling Orange Gummy is a great orange flavored candy, and my favorite snack item this month. Asahi Calpis Gummies capture the taste of the unique drink well, and have a distinct texture.

 

 

The Decent

Fit’s Strawberry & Cream Gum has a decent flavor that lasts a while and comes with a “Where’s Waldo” puzzle on the back. Hello Kitty Strawberry Pretzels and Milk Chocolate Pocky are exactly as would be expected.

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Pokemon Pineapple Candy chews like gum while dissolving to avoid the cultural taboo of removing food from one’s mouth. Love the idea and this was great to try. A different flavor and it would have been fantastic.

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This month’s Premium Crate’s drink is Sukitto Lemon C Drink. A simple, light lemon soda-like drink with vitamin C. Another premium exclusive this month is Pizza Pretz. A bit salty and tomato taste heavy for me, but decent overall.

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JU-C Short Cake are sugary “chip” candies. The short cake flavor included is good. Yam White Chocolates have a fudge-like consistency and are decent, which is a lot more than I expected of that particular combination.

 

 

The Meh

The two possible flavors of Usushi / Ume Potato Chips translate to “light salt” and “plum,” respectively. I got the former, so essentially plain potato chips. They were good for what they were, but anything I feel like I can get at my local US supermarket underwhelms me as a Japan Crate inclusion.

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Conclusion

A little disappointed that the number of Premium exclusive items were reduced, especially since one of them this month was Pretz (which is usually included in the lower tiers). The Gaba Chocolate was great though, so I’ll call it even. I like pocky and pretz, but three types of them and a bag of plain potato chips is not the kind of variety I look for in these crates.

Still, the other items were quite unique and several were unlike anything I’ve had before so even though this was the weakest Japan Crate for me so far I’m still satisfied enough with it.

Japan Crate December 2015 Review

December brings another unique box of snacks from Japan.

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As usual Japan Crate includes a booklet / mini-manga that explains what everything is, has instructions for the DIY kit, and various additional content. The bonus item for the Premium Crate this month isn’t food, but 1 of 11 possible Legend of Zelda Mini-Figures. While I don’t recognize the character I got, the figure is quite detailed for the small size and looks good.

Now let’s look at the edibles.

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The Excellent

As I’ve mentioned before (repeatedly), I adore cola flavored candies. So the Hia Shuwa Cola hard candies, one of the Premium exclusives, were easily my favorite item this month. The three “levels” (types) were all good, although I’m not sure why one was called “gummy.” I understand the fizzy and soothing ones. 😉

Naga-I Sawagumi Orange is described as a “sour gummy tape,” although I got more of a sweeter version of the candy I know as orange slices than something sour. Regardless, I loved it.

Both named flavors in the Black Bean & Soy Sauce Scones were extremely subtle, but that was perfect here and the underlying corn taste tied it all together. This is my favorite savory cheetos variation so far.

This month’s Premium Crate’s drink is Celio Lifeguard Drink. Subtitled as “Super Life” in the booklet, this was almost a combination soda / energy drink. Honey and royal jelly give it a much more pleasant flavor than normal for energy drinks.

Demitasse Pocky is apparently a new limited edition flavor made from seasonal ingredients. The coating was thick dark chocolate, and as such these were fantastic.

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The Decent

I liked this month’s Umaino Sticks better than the previous flavor (beef tongue). They were less salty and the fact that we got three different flavors to try instead of just one was great. The veggie salad tasted more like the corn snacks I’ve gotten (and enjoyed) in the past than a combination of veggies, the Tonkatsu didn’t quite taste like Tonkatsu to me but was fine, and the cheese was similar to cheese puffs. All three were good, but I liked the cheese the best.

The delayed item from last month was Fujiya Lollipop Bag, a bag of classic style lollipops in four flavors: orange, grape, apple, and strawberry. Exactly what you would expect here.

 

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There were a LOT of drinks / drink mixes this time. Awa Moco Moco powder formed a fizzy, creamy fruit drink. I got strawberry, which would have been my preference among the 3 possible flavors (banana and melon were the others).

The DIY kit this month was Cute Tororin Parfait DIY Kit, which is intended to make a strawberry parfait with pink candy topping and icing. I doubt I’m the target demo here, but I like this all the same. It mixed quickly, and well and made a good tasting parfait with a creamy texture.

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Bad Kid Beer was supposed to be in fact a “magic powder that creates a creamy grape soda when mixed with water.” The grape flavor was very light but this was a fine soda-ish drink mix.

There was another “drink in a flexible plastic bottle packaged like candy” this month, and they still amuse me in presentation. I took the advice of the booklet and tried freezing my Pachishuwa Dynamite Melon Soda. There was no indication of how I was then to get it out of the package, but the soft plastic sliced easily enough and I poured the slush into a bowl. This Premium exclusive had a strong melon flavor and I liked it better than the previous beverage of this type. The freezing idea was a nice touch.

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The Meh

Nothing this time. YAY!

Conclusion

Great batch this month, with a lot of variety and several unique inclusions. The Premium exclusives continue to provide some of my favorites, and the upgrade is easily worth the additional $5.