Have you ever noticed that the exact same food in one country can taste quite different when you eat it another country? I’m not referring to how spaghetti in Italy tastes different from Spaghetti in America, for instance. I’m talking about the exact same, mass-manufactured product which theoretically should have the same recipe, but somehow they taste different in different parts of the world.
McDonald’s is a popular example. I’ve had McDonald’s in Hong Kong, India and the Philippines and the surprising thing is how different a cheeseburger tastes (and even looks) from country to country.
Well, today I had the chance to try out Yakult from Singapore. I grew up drinking Yakult and am very familiar with its taste. The interesting thing is that the Yakult we have in the Philippines is significantly smaller than the ones found in Singapore. In the picture below you’ll see three bottles, the two on the left are from Singapore, one is Orange-flavored, the middle one is the regular flavor. On the right is a Philippine bottle.
Other than the size — and I have yet to find those huge jumbo-sized 1 liter Yakult bottles — the interesting thing is how different the taste is. Other than the obvious (Singapore has Yakult in different flavors. I’ve seen Orange, Grape and Green Apple), I found that the vanilla Yakult also tastes different.
Philippine Yakult has a strong sour taste. It’s also very sweet thanks to the added sugar, but the depth of its sourness is more stark. This causes a good contrast of sweet and sour, and makes each flavor more distinct, like a roller coaster with very high ups and downs. This is the taste I grew up with, and I know it well.
On the other hand, Singaporean Yakult has the same basic taste, but feels a little flatter and more levelled. It’s still sour, but not quite as sour as local Yakult. As a result, it feels smoother and overall more cohesive in its flavor. In terms of sweetness, it’s probably about the same, but the perceived sweetness you get from Singaporean Yakult is less, probably because the sourness doesn’t jump out as much.
I also noticed the same thing with the Orange-flavored Yakult. It’s a bit sweeter, and the citrus taste comes in after a few glugs, but I found that it wasn’t necessarily sweeter, just that the sourness I associate with Yakult wasn’t very prominent. I thought that it was the orange flavoring that was responsible for this perception, but after trying the vanilla Singapore Yakult I realized the sourness of the milk base was really lower.
All in all, Yakult is Yakult though and you won’t mistake it for another probiotic’s taste. My theory is that the Yakult recipe in each country is actually the same, but it’s the difference in the ingredients that make the difference. The milk used in Singapore most likely tastes different from the milk sourced in the Philippines, and when fermented the milk here in the Philippines probably just comes out more sour.
It’s interesting to note these subtle differences in the flavor between countries. Hopefully I’ll get to try out Yakult from other countries in the future like Hong Kong, Malaysia, etc.
What do you think? Have you noticed a difference in the taste of Yakult in different countries?