Hi friends, and welcome to another post! Today I have done a taste test of some snacks…okay, maybe not some, but A LOT of snacks. It will be the first time writing about it, so I’m super excited!
WHAT IS UMAIBO?
I love Umaibo (うまい棒), which are these individually-wrapped snacks reminiscent of a corn puff, with a cute mascot on them (that I used to mistake for Doraemon). They come in many flavours, are super light, have a hollow center, and melt in your mouth! These snacks originate from Japan, and are iconic to many as a childhood snack. I have heard about Umaibo from a young age, but I never got to try them. Until a recent trip to Japan, I’ve only had their imitations.
Although Umaibo has many different flavours, they come in a huge bag of the same flavour in supermarkets both inside and outside of Japan (i.e. Singapore). If you want to try many different flavours at once, you’ll have to buy many different big bags of Umaibo, which is crazy and kinda risky imo. What if you bought something you didn’t like? Then you’ll be struggling to finish the rest of the bag! During my trip to Tokyo, I could only find Umaibo sold individually at one of the shops in Haneda Airport, and at that time I felt like I stroke lottery.
Recently, a friend of mine found a website that sold Umaibo individually instead of in a bag. I was super stoked, and hence we ordered all of the flavours available on that website to try- all 20 of them (including the Premium flavours). Hence, bringing you this ULTIMATE UMAIBO TASTE TEST!
Link to the Umaibo snacks: http://www.candysan.com/category.php?id_category=32
Candysan is an awesome website that allows you to order a huge variety of Japanese snacks and sweets and they’ll ship it over to your country!
It’s gonna be a long post, so grab some coffee/tea and a snack while you read this. Without further ado, let’s get to it!
(1) Mentai めんたい
Firstly, we tried Mentai or pollock roe, which is a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine. On first bite, a mild seafood taste hits my tongue, reminiscent of dried shrimp. The mentai taste was very subtle, overpowered by the taste of chicken soup. However, the more I ate it, the taste of the mentai became stronger. Not bad for the first one we tried.
Rating: 6/10. Could have a stronger mentai flavour.
(2) Salami サラミ
This was one of our favourites. It had a meaty, smoky flavour, which reminded me of pepperoni pizza. Flavour-wise, it was definitely more distinct than the Mentai one. If you like pepperoni pizza, or barbecue flavoured potato chips, I think you’ll like this.
Rating: 7.5/10. Oishii desu!
(3) Sugar Rusk シュガーラスク
Had no idea what this was so had to Google before trying this out. Turns out it’s a Japanese sweet toast snack, hence we expected it to taste sweet. Compared to the others, this one does not have a hollow center (or is it just a manufacturing flaw?). It had a sweet and buttery smell. The taste was buttery and sugary as well, strongly reminiscent of buttered sugar toast. Tasted like breakfast, and a good change from the first two. What we did not like though, was that plain aftertaste we had, which made us felt like we ate plain cardboard.
(4) Shrimp and Mayonnaise エビマヨネーズ
Like the Mentai flavour, this one also has a bright orange appearance, and a fishy, shrimpy smell. Overall, it had a tangy fishy flavour, probably due to the mayonnaise in it. The fishy flavour was stronger and lingered in the mouth for a longer time.
Rating: 6.5/10. Slightly better than the Mentai one.
(5) Tonkatsu Sauce とんかつソース
Tonkatsu is a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet, often served on a bed of cabbage, eaten with rice and a sauce at the side. The Umaibo version, I assume, is made to taste like the tonkatsu sauce. I love tonkatsu, and I love the sauce that comes with it, but this Umaibo was too strong for me. A strong sour taste hit me right away, and it was quite salty and peppery. It tasted like concentrated tonkatsu sauce, like I was eating the sauce itself without the taste of the meat to compliment it. Not fond of it at all.
(6) Beef Tongue Salted 牛タン塩
This was an interesting one, simply because it was named not any kind of beef, but specifically beef tongue. How could you tell based on the Umaibo? It definitely tasted like beef, with a beefy aftertaste. Slightly sweet, like how I imagined the beef could have been marinated. I could also taste hints of soy sauce and sesame oil. Overall, it was quite pleasant tasting, as the flavours do not hit you in the face.
(7) Natto なっとう
Honestly, I’ve never tried natto (basically fermented soybeans) because it never appealed to me, so I was kinda excited + afraid to try this. The taste of this confuses me. At first, I tasted a fermented soybean flavour, which wasn’t pleasant, but then it had an aftertaste that was similar to wasabi, which didn’t taste bad at all. That made me want to take a second bite and I was once again reminded of that unpleasant fermented taste. If you hate natto, don’t try this. I wouldn’t eat this again, and I probably will never try natto hahaha.
(8) Chicken Curry チキンカレー
This was another favourite of mine. If you have tried Twisties’ BBQ Curry Dude, you’re gonna find this one similar. It had a very mild curry taste with chicken flavouring, and not spicy at all. It was not very salty, the amount of salt in it was just right. If you love Japanese curry, you’ll like this.
(9) Pizza ピザ
Was expecting it to taste like pizza-flavoured Pretz sticks, did not taste like pizza-flavoured Pretz sticks. It tasted very plain, with a hint of tomato flavour, but mostly like eating plain bread. Meh, I expected better.
(10) Corn Potage コーンポタージュ
I FREAKING LOVE THIS. I love Japanese corn potage, so I love this so much. It tasted just like corn potage- sweet, lightly salted, and creamy. LOVE IT. I could eat more of these.
Rating: 9/10 (ah screw it, 10/10)
(11) Takoyaki たこ焼
Appearance-wise, the colour looks like takoyaki. It smells like takoyaki, and tastes like takoyaki, especially if you don’t think of it as an Umaibo snack, but imagining yourself eating an actual takoyaki. It’s unique, but I would hands down prefer to eat the actual takoyaki. The soft, piping hot takoyaki dough, with the crunchy octopus inside…yumz. This snack cannot replace the actual thing for sure.
(12) Cheese チーズ
After a string of complex-tasting Umaibo flavours, it’s good to taste something more familiar. This tasted like the Super Ring cheese snack every Singaporean/Malaysian kid will know. The pros of this is that you can enjoy the snack without getting your fingers all turning orange. Tastes really nostalgic.
(13) Vegetable Salad やさいサラダ
Not much to say about it. Tastes like a chicken flavoured corn puff with onion.
(14) Yakitori やきとり
Surprisingly liked this one. It was glossy looking, like they smeared the sauce over the Umaibo, similar to that in the original Yakitori. It tasted like the sweet Yakitori sauce, with a smoky barbecued flavour. It was slightly-charred, reminiscent of the burnt bits of the chicken. Unlike the Takoyaki flavour, the Yakitori one really tasted good as an Umaibo. Will definitely recommend this flavour.
(15) Teriyaki Burger テリヤキバーガー
Another one of my least favourites. It didn’t taste like the sweet teriyaki sauce we are all familiar with. Instead, it tasted a bit too salty and smoky for teriyaki sauce. I would say, it tasted more similar to the takoyaki flavour.
Next, we tried their special and premium flavours, which come in a different packaging and design from the previous ones we tried.
(16) Umaibo Chocolate チョコレート
It’s a chocolate-coated puff snack! The puff part is just plain, but it went well with the chocolate. The chocolate is reminiscent to those you can find in Hello Panda, sweet but not too milky.
(17) Umaitama Chocolate
Unlike the others, this one does not come in a corn puff snack. Instead, it’s made up of little puff pastries with chocolate inside them, somewhat like a cream puff. This one is quite disappointing even though it smelt promising. The puff pastry was flaky and tasted cheap, like plain cardboard, and the chocolate inside was insufficient.
Rating: 4/10. I could’ve given even lower, so don’t even bother.
(18) [Premium] Mozzarella and Camembert
Was expecting it to taste very strong, but it was actually very similar to the normal cheese flavour, with a little less processed-tasting. The cheese flavour was definitely milkier and creamier; salty and sweet, like a sophisticated nostalgic taste.
(19) [Premium] Wasabi Steak
This is super spicy! It has a very strong wasabi flavour, although the heat doesn’t rise up to your nose, and just stays in your mouth. The wasabi overpowered the steak taste. Overall, very spicy.
Rating: 7/10, only because the wasabi taste is quite strong.
(20) [Premium] Mentaiko
Finishing the way we started- with mentaiko. Compared to the normal mentai flavoured Umaibo, the flavours are definitely up a notch. It has a very strong fishy taste that is not spicy, and definitely lingers in the mouth longer. If you like mentaiko pasta, I think you’ll like this one. Also, definitely better than the normal mentai flavoured Umaibo.
If you made it to this point, thanks for staying all the way! It was definitely fun doing this taste test, and I’m so glad I finally got to try all the flavours, and found out which was worth trying over and over again, and which ones were just not worth seconds. I’ll definitely get more of my favourites 🙂
Till I write again, take care everyone.