This year, many families will tighten their budgets and enjoy a “Staycation.” But you still take your tastebuds on an exotic exploration! Try Japanese snack boxes Bokksu; crispy snacks and frozen Indian/Asian entrees by Saffron Road, savory flavored seaweed snacks from SeaSnax and Japanese beers. These taste treats take you to exciting taste destinations without ever having to leave home.
I loved previewing Bokksu on the Advice Sisters Beauty and Style last year (see advicesisters’ gourmet story). Bokksu offers Japanese snacks in themed gift box subscriptions ($39 and $25).
Each month you or your lucky recipient receives a new box filled with themed taste treats from various areas of Japan. You also get a booklet explaining where are these treats came from so you learn a little bit about different regions of Japan as well. Most boxes offer a range of crackers, cookies, tea, candies and unique snacks representative of Japan.
May 2019 Bokksu
We re-tested Bokksu with the May 2019 “Tour of Japan” box. To celebrate 3 years of Bokksu, this particular box was chock-full of “fan favorite” Japanese treats each from a different prefecture of Japan. Our testers couldn’t agree on just one favorite item. High up on the list was the Tokyo Apple Butter Financier Cake (red wrappers in my photo above) a classic French cake made with almond flour in the shape of an apple, with Japanese apple butter.
Crunchy Mini Red Bean Crackers with a thin layer of sweet red bean paste (top center in my photo) and the melt-in-your-mouth Funwari Meijin Mochi Puffs with cheese from Hokkaido (I didn’t even know cheese was a “thing” in Japan) were our top fan favorites (puffs are center, bottom).
Saffron Road sent us some interesting and delicious taste treats: crunchy chickpea snacks and also some frozen entrees.
There are many health benefits to eating chickpeas.Chickpeas or garbanzo beans offer tons of plant-based protein, dietary fiber, and. They are also a good source of and minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium, folate, and phosphorous and lots of vitamins.
We loved these crunchy, travel-friendly munch-ables! Their non-GMO Project Verified seasoned and chocolate-coated chickpeas are low fat and low sodium, and they offer a healthy alternative to chips and cheese puffs while providing a variety of vitamins and minerals (plus fiber and protein).
We tried the crunchy Chickpeas (sweet varieties) in Salted Caramel and Honey Roasted. They were tasty and we grabbed them by the handful. Kids will love all the flavors, too.
However, the chocolate covered versions (dark chocolate chai and dark chocolate) were a less harmonious match that will appeal to adventurous palates.
Saffron Road Entrees:
We were blown away by Saffron Road’s frozen entrees, great for a quick snack or lunch,
The authentic exotic flavors from India and other parts of Asia of Saffron Road’s natural and healthy frozen entrees and ramen bowl feature grass-fed cattle, wild-caught fish and no hormones, antibiotics or GMOs.
Every single one of the flavors we tried was not just authentic, but truly a wow! There are more than a dozen different varieties of frozen entrees and bowls that heat up in the microwave, in seconds.
If there’s a downside, it’s that although the Saffron Road entrees are absolutely delicious, the portions are small. Those with hearty appetites will want more than one!
Japanese Beer, here!
In Japan you can get just about anything out of a vending machine, including craft beer. While it is better known for Sake and Soju, Japan is actually home to some of the world’s largest brewers. It is now also home to a range of different craft breweries.
Recently, the Japanese Craft Beer, an industry association of 23 craft brewers who banded together to promote the craftsmanship and attention to detail that characterizes Japanese beermaking provided us with six different craft brews to sample.
We have to admit, that generally, the bitter hoppy ales that predominate the American craft brew landscape are not our cup of tea; however, the craft brews from Japan were very well-balanced and on the lighter side of the spectrum.
A Range of Beers:
Yoho Brewing Wednesday Cat Belgian Style White Ale: ($7.99) This white ale reminded us of the homebrews we used to make back in the day in Colorado. Very clear light gold in color, the beer has a yeasty fruity aroma with some great banana notes. Spicy with some light clove notes, the beer is extremely light and refreshing – not hoppy or bitter in any way.
Karuizawa Brewery Asama Meisui Premium Dark: (N/A) Maybe Japan’s answer to stout, though much lighter. Dark amber in color with a light beige head, the beer has dark lager characteristics with some butterscotch notes. Light hops and rich malty flavors make this an easy drinking lager that will pair well with food, rather than dominating it.
On the more bitter side, was Wakuwaku Tezukuri Farm Kanazawa Pale Ale: (N/A) Made with six-row barley from Ishikawa, Japan, this ale was bolder than the lager beers, but the bitter notes of the hops were not as dominant as those in American produced craft ales. This means that the beer would pair well with Japanese foods like sushi or Ramen.
Japanese craft beers provide a good alternative for those who want the more distinctive range of tastes that craft brewers can provide without the heavy hoppy notes that are often found in American style craft beers and ales. Much like Japanese food can be on the more delicate and understated side, so too are the country’s craft beers. They are a great addition for those looking to pair beers with the lighter foods of summer.
For more information on Japanese Craft Beer, visit the Craft Beer Association at: http://www.beertaster.org