Friday, November 14, 2014

Pokka Coffee Potato Chips Taste Test

I don't even like coffee, but nonetheless I couldn't resist when I found Pokka Coffee* Potato Chips (149yen)at the local Mini Stop. (Incidentally, I couldn't find the chips at grocery stores or other convenience stores--only Mini Stop.)

*Pokka Coffee is a Japanese brand of (sweetened) canned coffee that was first produced in 1972.

Pokka Coffee Potato ChipsPokka Coffee Potato Chips
Pokka Coffee Potato Chips
There was distinct coffee smell upon opening the bag, but thankfully it didn't actually taste like coffee. It was more like a slightly bitter caramel taste. I thought the slight saltiness of the chips worked well to balance out the sweetness. It felt a bit strange to be eating sweet potato chips, but at the time they were actually strangely addictive. My husband and I polished off the bag in short order.

I probably wouldn't go out of my way to buy the chips again, but if I had them in front of me I would definitely eat them--and probably polish off the entire bag, too!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Instant tonjiru udon taste test

Tonjiru (豚汁) is a hearty type of miso soup made with pork and vegetables that is considered a staple of Japanese home cooking. Ingredients vary from household to household and person to person, but (along with the pork) most recipes include carrots, gobou (burdock root), and konnyaku (konjac or devil's tongue) among other ingredients.

I love tonjiru and usually make mine with pork, carrots, potatoes, onions, gobou, konnyaku, and shiitake. Throw in some udon and tonjiru is also an awesome meal on its own!

homemade tonjiru udon
homemade tonjiru udon

So when I saw instant tonjiru udon available at the grocery store, I knew I had to try it! There were two brands available, so I bought both and did a taste test.

maruchan nissin instant tonjiru udon

Left: Maruchan "Atsu Atsu Tonjiru Udon"
Price: 108yen
Net Wt.: ~109g
Toppings: pork, aburaage, gobou, potatoes, carrots, leeks
425kcal; 6.1g sodium

Right: Nissin "Donbei Tonjiru Udon"
Price: 138yen
Net Wt.: ~99g
Toppings: pork, aburaage, gobou, carrots, leeks
416kcal; 5.1g sodium

Maruchan Atsu Atsu Tonjiru Udon Nissin Donbei Tonjiru Udon

Inside both packages, there were pieces of aburaage (a type of fried tofu), a package of toppings (kayaku かやく) and soup (ekitai soup 液体スープ), but the Nissin one also had a package of shichimi spices (七味).

The preparation instructions were also pretty much the same for both:
1. open up the lid halfway and remove the topping/soup/spice packages
2. add the toppings to the noodles
3. fill with hot water up to the line inside the bowl (~350mL for Maruchan, and ~370mL for Nissin)
4. close the lid, place the soup package on top of the lid (to warm up the soup), and let sit for 5min
5. remove the lid, add the soup (and spices for Nissin), mix and enjoy!

instant tonjiru udon prepared just add water
just add water!
Maruchan Atsu Atsu Tonjiru Udon
Maruchan Atsu Atsu Tonjiru Udon
Nissin Donbei Tonjiru Udon
Nissin Donbei Tonjiru Udon

 Both were pretty tasty, but the Maruchan soup had a stronger miso taste, and the toppings were in bigger pieces and had a bit more variety than the Nissin version, so the taste of the toppings was more obvious.

The Nissin soup was a bit lighter so you could appreciate the addition of the shichimi spices. Since I tend to use a lighter hand with the miso when making my own tonjiru, the Nissin soup was closer to the taste of my tonjiru than the Maruchan soup. I also preferred the Nissin noodles since the texture was a bit...softer? They tasted/felt closer to regular udon than the Maruchan noodles, which were more rubbery/firm and obviously instant noodles.

So, here are my picks for the better brand based on various criteria:
Price/Value: Maruchan
Health: Nissin
Toppings: Maruchan
Noodles: Nissin
Soup: Tie (really a matter of preference, both were equally good)

As you can see, each is good in its own way, but if I had to pick, I would choose the Maruchan Atsu Atsu Tonjiru Udon for the value and the very clear "tonjiru!" taste from the stronger miso taste and size and variety of the toppings.

Monday, September 1, 2014

2014 Towada Aki Matsuri

2014 Towada Aki Matsuri (Fall Festival)
(Flyer - Japanese)

Date: September 5-7, 2014
Location: Central Towada (various)

September 5 (Friday)

(Float) Parade 
[Old Rte. 4 from Rte. 102 to Sanbongi SHS 旧国道4号・国道102号交差点~三本木高校前]

Mikoshi, Yosakoi, Hip-Hop Dance, etc.
[Kanchogai Dori 官庁街通り]

September 6 (Saturday)

10th Anniversary (of the Merger with Towadako Machi) Parade  
[Kanchogai Dori 官庁街通り]


Towada Bayashi (Festival Music) Competition 
[Sumo Dohyo 相撲所]

Kids' Performances
[Kanchogai Dori 官庁街通り]

Kenka Daiko (Japanese Taiko Drums)
[Kanchogai Dori 官庁街通り]

Mikoshi (Portable Shrine), Nishi Akane-Kai Nagashi Odori Dance, Twilight Dashi (Float) Parade 
[Kanchogai Dori 官庁街通り]

Umagin Parade ウマジンパレード
[Kanchogai Dori 官庁街通り]

Night Dashi (Float) Parade
[Kanchogai Dori 官庁街通り]

September 7 (Sunday)

Tokyo Disney Resort Special Parade, (Float) Parade 
[Old Rte. 4 from Rte. 102 to Sanbongi SHS 旧国道4号・国道102号交差点~三本木高校前]
(*Tokyo Disney Resort Special Parade is only from 8-Chome to 1-Chome 東京ディズニーリゾートスペシャルパレードの運行区間は8丁目交差点から1丁目交差点まで)

Aki Matsuri Finale Song Show
[Komakko Hiroba (Across from Art Station Towada) 駒っこ広場]

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

2014 Towadako Kosui Matsuri

Towadako Kosui Matsuri 十和田湖湖水まつり (Lake Towada Lake Festival) 

Website | PDF Flyer (Japanese)

Date: Sat. July 19-Sun. July 20, 2014
Location: Lake Towada, Yasumiya 十和田湖畔休屋
Events: Enjoy yosakoi and various other performances and activities during the day, and fireworks at night.