Ah, Japan, the land of exotic culture, majestic pagodas and girly men. But there’s one other incredible thing you will find in Japan that you won’t find anywhere else: the most amazing selection of Kitkat flavors.
Aside from the usual chocolate, white chocolate and peanut butter flavors, Japan has special flavors like cookies and cream, green tea macha, and apple pie. But going beyond that, each of Japan’s geographical areas has a specialty Kitkat, which is tied in to one of its special regional ingredients.
While the Matcha Green Tea and Strawberry flavors are relatively easy to find in our local supermarkets, some of them are really hard to find and your best bet is to go to Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, or some other South/East Asian country that has better access to Nestle’s Far East supply line.
Here’s some loot I got earlier this week from a friend. The flavors are great and it’s a shame that I didn’t get to eat all of them!
These three flavors are Raspberry, Houji Cha and Apple Pie.
The Raspberry is a fairly common special flavor, but is one of the nicer ones. It’s very unique in that it has a sour taste, thanks to the raspberry juice. It’s much like strawberry, but with a tang and a kick. One of the nicer special flavors.
Houjicha is a kind of green tea where the leaves are roasted before being steeped in tea, giving the “green” tea a golden orange color. It has that burnt tea aroma and taste, and that was faithfully translated into chocolate. This is one of the rarer special flavors you can get, and is a limited special edition specialty ingredient of Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital of culture and kimonos. It’s one of the best flavors you can get and it tends to be quite expensive.
The Apple Pie flavor on the other hand is a special limited Easter-edition Kitkat that only comes out during April. Interestingly enough, it isn’t just Apple Pie, on the packaging it says, “Apple Pie Carrot Cake.” Unfortunately I only got one sample of this Kitkat, but someone in the house ate it before I could. I have no idea what it takes like, curses!
Now here’s a classic flavor that every ice cream lover knows: Cookies and Cream. While generally it’s just ice cream and oreos, this tastes better than you’d think. It’s not just the white chocolate kitkat with Oreo crumbs; the chocolate has a different taste and texture to it compared to the usual white chocolate. I am not sure if it’s just because of the nicer ingredients used in the Japanese branch of Nestle, or if there’s something special in the chocolate recipe, but I suspect it’s the latter.
The chocolate has a strong vanilla taste to it in addition to the Oreo crumbs, and this washes down wonderfully. It’s probably because the flavor is trying to emulate the vanilla ice cream of its namesake. But it’s much better than I thought it would be, having grown up with Cookies and Cream to the point that it feels pedestrian. That said, it’s still not one of the more interesting flavors.
That said, I did find packs of this flavor in the Binondo Shopper’s Market. If you haven’t tried this flavor out, it’s worth going there to pick up a few bags. Each bag has 12 packs.
The Cheesecake flavor is by far my favorite. Among the Kitkat flavors, some are recommended to be toasted or “baked” before eaten. This is one of them. The only other one I have tried that recommends baking is Crème Brûlée, which I do not have on hand at the moment.
On the packaging of these special “to bake” flavors you’ll see instructions at the back on how to bake. Since I hopelessly cannot read Japanese, I just made do with my toaster. This is the result:
I toasted the raspberry, cookies and cream and cheesecake flavors. Unfortunately, I overdid it a bit, I toasted it for ten minutes in the picture above. After some experiments, I found six minutes in my toaster did the trick, and that worked for subsequent heatings.
That said, the burnt kitkat above still tasted better than untoasted kitkat straight out of the box, for all flavors. I have a thing for heated food, and generally heated food tastes better (heck even fried ice cream is great!). But whereas for say raspberry or cookies and cream the heating just adds a little spice to the flavor, the difference between the toasted cheesecake flavor and untoasted is like night and day.
Untoasted Cheesecake is very sweet, but has a wonderful tangy lemon taste to it. In addition, there seems to be a hint of cream cheese used in the filling, which gives this Kitkat a special sumptuousness that you do not get in any other flavor. It is by far my favorite Kitkat flavor.
However, once toasted, it really comes onto its own. The ingredients used, probably the cream cheese, really are meant to be baked. Without baking, the cake tastes a little raw, like pancake batter before frying. After toasting it, though, the chocolate seems to take some extra body, aside from becoming slightly crispy, and the lemon flavor really bursts out. In addition, this tempers the sweetness of the untoasted version, making it just perfect.
Once you try it this way, you won’t want to waste your Cheesecake Kitkat by eating it raw. Toast it every time.
What’s your favorite special Kitkat flavor? Let us know in the comments.