By now I think most people have heard about the most recent earthquakes that have created such destruction in Japan and Ecuador. This post is my way of showing solidarity during these difficult times. My prayers go out to all those who have been affected by the earthquake, both in Japan and Ecuador.
I’ve only ever been to Japan so I have more things to say about it, one of them being how much I admire how the Japanese of today are so disciplined, efficient, kind, and resilient, so I just know they as a nation will help one another to recover from this. But still, a little help can go a long way. To those who want to give a little aid, here are the channels I used to donate:
In the face of such heavy news, I wanted to talk about something a little lighter and sweeter, about Japan specifically. Visiting this country is never complete without filling up your suitcase with Japanese treats to slowly savour once you’re back home. (I think it helps with the separation anxiety!) You might remember the last version I made. Here are some of the new ones I discovered during my trip there last December, in no particular order except where I picked them up.
Let’s start with treats from one of the souvenir shops around Mt. Fuji.
You guys might be familiar with the Meiji Strawberry Apollos, specifically the original variant. My favourite is the Rich Strawberry flavoured one, which has a more strawberry taste and darker colour, but this Meiji Strawberry Mt Fuji Apollo version is really giving that a run for its money! It’s designed to look like Mt Fuji, but I really love the strawberry taste.
These Akafuji Club Cookies are shaped like Mt. Fuji, with a white chocolate crown to emulate the perennial head of snow Mt. Fuji has. These cookies come in strawberry and vanilla flavours, but such a sucker am I for strawberry-flavoured sweets that we got these instead of the vanilla. They taste pretty good, by the way!
One of my absolute favourite discoveries are these Natural Cheese SoftlyBars, which I assume can only be found in this area because the sticker says Mt Fuji. These soft, melt-in-the-mouth, buttery cookies are simply divine, with the most pleasant cheese flavour that isn’t too strong or too salty. Must. Buy!
Let’s now move on to Tokyo, which is without a doubt my favourite shopping area in Japan. I especially enjoy looking through the seasonal treats at The Daiba in DiverCity Odaiba. (Yes that place with the Gundam). My dad ended up buying a lot of munchies but the standouts for me are these two:
These Tokyo Mille Feuille in Strawberry features a really nice creamy strawberry filling. The cookies are crisp and a bit buttery, but it’s the filling that really made a difference.
A favourite of mine are these Tokyo Okaki Curry Age Mochi Crisps— basically curry-flavoured puffed rice. I think anybody who enjoys Japanese curry will like this. I felt very VERY sad when we ran out of this.
Living in Shinjuku, we did a lot of shopping at the Don Quixote store. DonKi is a really good place to shop if you don’t mind cramped quarters and a constant flux of people, but the food items they carry tend to be a bit on the typical side.
Most of these items might not be new to you guys, but I’ll show you my stash anyway.
Oreo Soft Cookies are now being imported to the Philippines by S&R but sometimes Donki does promos that make these super cheap if bought in bulk. Same goes for the Matcha Kit-Kat’s, which I never leave Japan without. These are my favourite Kit-Kat’s. Next to that are any manner of Strawberry Kit-Kat’s. For the Pocky sticks I actually prefer the ones that are just plainly covered, but these Pocky Chocolate Crunch Stick varieties (in matcha and red bean) make pretty gifts! Each box contains four packets with 6 pieces of Pocky sticks inside. A bit too sweet for my taste though.
You don’t have to go as far as Odaiba or DonKi to get your snacking fix though. Any konbini in Japan carry pretty awesome treats too. And there are so many to choose from!
I personally prefer Family Mart among all the konbini not just for the variety of sweet treats, but for the food it carries in general, including rice meals and onigiri. Taste and quality are topnotch! Second favourite convenience store chain is 7-11. I find they carry a lot of items I did not notice in other convenience stores.
Luckily, I think these Matcha-chocolate Alfort cookies are available in all the leading konbini in Japan. These are my favourite convenience store sweet treat, and literally the first thing I grabbed when I stepped into a konbini upon my return to Japan. That’s how much I love ’em!
Pocky midi sticks are a well-loved snack among many, but I actually prefer the buttery Meiji Fran sticks. The texture of that outer covering really delivers all those promises you see on the box– specifically that whipped texture akin to butter that’s been beaten until fluffy. Yuuuuum. As for the Meltykiss chocolates, we normally finish it while in Japan because it just melts here in the Philippines. Boo super hot weather!
If you go along with a pre-arranged tour, there’s a big chance you will get offered some snacks from the Japanese Tour Guide Association (or something to that effect) by your tour guide. These items are also available in select stores but they’ll probably be a bit more expensive.
Among those we bought, I highly recommend everything actually! Matcha chocolate and plain chocolate-covered almonds, wasabi-shelled pistachios… My favourites are the wasabi crackers (pictured on the right). I loved these so much you guys. Please buy me some.
A really curious thing are the preserved spicy scallops. They have a very strong seafood smell and are really chewy in texture. It actually feels like you’re eating something half-cooked. I can’t explain it except it might take some time to get used to eating these, but somehow it ended up being really addictive! The same goes for those dried fish strips with black sesame in the middle.
So you’ve already bought a ton of treats and are on your way home, but once you get to the airport, there’s more food shopping to be had!
I spotted some special edition zebra Tokyo Bananas, which is filled with a sweet banana-caramel custard cream. The Sweets Assortment box I think is a really nice option if you’re looking for something to gift to another, however among the three in the photo below, the giant Uji Matcha Pocky is what I love the most. (To the point that I even stashed some!)
Here’s something that YOU MUST BUY from the airport: Otaru Rue Ironai Langue de chat au Fromage. Whew how long is that name?! Forget about the extra famous Shiroi no Koibito langues de chat for a minute– this is even better, in my opinion. It’s essentially the same thin langues de chat milky cookies, but this version actually has cheese in it. It’s a brilliant mix of sweet and savoury!
And of course, you absolutely cannot board your plane without a box (or three) of Royce chocolate. This was the first time I bought those Matcha Bar Chocolates, and I never leave Japan without Nama Chocolate. 🙂