I’m really not sure at what point it became common knowledge that Japan has a thing for Kit Kats, but apparently it is. It seemed that whenever I mentioned to people that I was going to Japan, they asked me about the Kit Kats. Everybody wanted to know if I was bringing back all kinds of weird flavours of Kit Kats for them to sample. And, of course, I was.
In my head, I expected every single convenience store that I visited in Tokyo to have shelf upon shelf of Kit Kats, but that really isn’t the case. Usually you can find the standard milk chocolate variety and also Green Tea, but nothing terribly exotic – that takes a bit more work.
There is a special Kit Kat store, the Chocolatory, which opened at the beginning of 2014. Apparently it has some unique flavours only on sale at that one location, but I didn’t have enough time to search it out. Instead I relied on the souvenir stores which had a decent enough selection of more unusual varieties for curious tourists to purchase. By the time I was done, I had accrued seven different flavours: Strawberry Cheesecake, Rum Raisin, Sakura Matcha, Beni-Imo, Hojicha Roasted Tea, Wasabi and Hot Japanese Chili. Here’s my thoughts:
Strawberry Cheesecake, like almost all of these, is covered in flavoured white chocolate with some extra sandwiched between the wafers to make sure there’s no doubt what variety is being consumed. And this is definitely strawberry. That’s about all really. Pleasant enough.
Rum Raisin is a bit more interesting just because it takes me back to my childhood and being given tastes of my dad’s rum and raisin ice cream and being told that I could possibly get drunk as a result. I didn’t, and I didn’t here either. But it tastes good.
The Japanese love cherry blossoms – the Sakura – and who can blame them because when Spring arrives, the country is absolutely covered in them. So it isn’t a surprise that there’s a celebratory Kit Kat which mixes together green tea with a hint of cherry. Its fine if you like green tea because that’s the dominant flavour here. I’m not a huge fan.
Beni-Imo is a Japanese purple sweet potato, and it definitely wins the prize for being the prettiest Kit Kat here. It has more than a touch of fruitiness to it, and most people would find it hard to identify it as being sweet potato. More interesting than tasty.
Hojicha Roasted Tea is the most surprising in the bunch because it completely lacks subtlety. It tastes of the strongest cup of tea you’ve ever had in your life with another layer of flavour because of the roasted element. And better still, the filling in the wafers gives just a touch of creaminess which adds the right amount of smoothness. Surprisingly good.
Wasabi Kit Kats are just plain weird. There’s absolutely no mistaking the familiar scent of wasabi once the foil wrapper was opened. But the taste is where the real weirdness begins because it changes from sweet to savoury again and again. There’s no real heat but there’s still lots of wasabi flavour. It really has to be tasted to be believed, but it isn’t something I need to ever eat again. Ever.
The King of the Japanese Kit Kats, however, is Hot Japanese Chili. First of all, it is the only one here which is covered in dark chocolate making it more like your usual run of the mill Kit Kat. But hidden within is some rather spicy hotness that makes it all worthwhile. It takes a while to really get going but when it does, it gets surprisingly fierce and sticks around at the back of your throat for a while. If only all Kit Kats were this delicious…