Of all the KitKat flavors I currently sell (9 different ones at the time of this writing), none of them can beat the Wasabi KitKat for pulling a strong reaction from seeing the box, one way or the other, from those new to the whole Japanese crazy KitKat world.
The reactions range from, “Ewwww….gross!”, to “Oh, my (insert relative of some sort here) just LOVES Wasabi!”
As I said in my opening piece about why Japan has so many different flavors, I will leave the actual tasting to you. You may happily render your own verdict as regards the taste without any interference from me.
What I will tell you, is that your reaction to the flavor, is a direct result of the fact that this KitKat uses actual Wasabi root powder. Not only that, it is Wasabi root powder from a very specific place in Japan from a specific business! This Wasabi KitKat is a perfect example of what makes these flavors special and Limited Edition worthy.
To start with, this should not really be referred to as just a plain-jane Wasabi KitKat. The box itself proclaims proudly that this taste treat is Shizuoka-Kanto Edition & is Tamaruya-honten Wasabi!
Let’s look at the Shizuoka-Kanto part of the equation. (Japan Geography time!)
Shizuoka Prefecture is the birthplace of wasabi, a plant indigenous to Japan which only grows in cool areas with clean water.
Wasabizuke is a well-known specialty made by chopping wasabi leaf stems and rootstocks and then soaking the pieces in sake lees.
Nowadays, wasabi is used in a variety of sweets and snacks such as yokan (thick jellied desserts), senbei (rice crackers), and soft ice cream.
The above link will show you that Shizuoka is famous for many wonderful things! I didn’t know that Wasabi was indigenous to Japan so see you learn something new everyday. I had heard it needs very clean water to grow well so that’s another appeal of high grade Wasabi grown in Japan.
What’s that you say, you want to know even more about Wasabi?
FEATURES of REAL WASABI
- It’s not just spicy hot. It has a refined taste and sweetness.
- Five minutes after grinding is the ideal period for Wasabi since it’s flavor and hotness are volatile.
- It contains many nutrients.
- Merely biting Wasabi doesn’t release the hotness. The flavor and hotness only come out through grinding.
- Shizuoka prefecture is surrounded by an abundance of nature, such at Mt. Fuju, Mt. Amagi, and the Southern Alps which make clear water plentiful. Utilizing this clear water makes Wasabi one of the most famous products
- Shizuoka area produces 80% of the national output of Wasabi!
The Difference Between True Wasabi and Tube or Powdered Wasabi
- Most tube or powdered forms of Wasabi are not grated or powdered true Wasabi. Horseradish is the main ingredient in powdered or tube Wasabi.
Enough about Wasabi, where is Shizuoka?
The Kanto part just refers to:
The Kanto (関東, Kantō, literally “east of the border”) is Japan’s largest plain and very densely populated. The large metropolises of Tokyo and Yokohama are located in the Kanto Region which consists of seven prefectures.
Taken from: http://www.japan-guide.com/list/e1103.html
I know all these different names for regions and prefectures and grouping of old place names is confusing at first. You get used to it the next time you see a Wasabi KitKat box that says Shizuoka-Kanto Edition, you can tell your friends all about what you’ve learned and look super duper smart! ‘-)
So, now you know a bit of Japanese geography and have waded into the spicy world of Wasabi. How about the Tamaruya-Honten part?
The Wasabi used in this KitKat is not just from these specific areas, the ingredient being used is actually being sourced from a specific business called Tamaruya. Honten simply means main place or headquarters.
Tamaruya sells some amazing looking stuff on their website:
Tamaruya offers some of the highest quality Wasabi in Japan and a quick visit to their website will give you a fast feel for why! Just amazing quality! The company was founded in 1875 by Mochizuki Torakichi and has been dedicated to the highest quality Wasabi ever since.
I think as part of my store, I might order a few Wasabi items from them and sell them alongside the KitKat itself so you can really see what the real-deal holyfield Wasabi tastes like.
As for the actual KitKat candy, the box is just gorgeous. There are gold foil highlights on the front. These boxes contain 12 mini KitKats and the back features a writing area so you can send a little message to those you share these with! I open the boxes when I sell them so people can sample the different flavors, but for the Japanese, these 12 mini packs are meant to be shared. You would buy a box and share with your co-workers or friends. Omiyage is an important cultural tradition and these boxes of KitKats are built for that. Click on the omiyage link above to learn about that.
Did you make it to the end? There’s a lot to learn from just a box of KitKats isn’t there? Have no fear, next up are two of the brand new flavors I received, both from Shinshu region: Hot Japanese Chili and Apple!