Saturday, February 24, 2018

Review: Kit Kat Chocolatory Sublime Ruby (Ruby Chocolate, Kit Kat Japan)

👍 Getting such strong berry flavours purely chocolate feels like wizardry.
👎 USD4.05/SGD5.35/JPY432 for a single stick of Kit Kat is crazy expensive.

You probably know that generally speaking, there are three types of chocolate: Milk, Dark and White. Well, apparently now there's a fourth type: Ruby Chocolate! You can read all about it in more detail on Barry Callebaut's Website, but in a nutshell, taking a special type of cocoa bean and processing it in a special way results in a chocolate that is naturally pink (in colour) and tastes like berries.

We're not exactly sure what the commercial arrangements are between the companies involved, but the world premiere of this new chocolate rests in the hands of Kit Kat Japan, which has produced a limited run of Ruby Chocolate wafers under the Sublime Ruby name!

Kit Kat Chocolatory Sublime Ruby

When we were in Japan last week we picked up a 7-pack Sublime Ruby gift box for ¥2592 (yes, you counted right, that is on average SGD4.50 per stick of Kit Kat), which includes two sticks of Sublime Ruby, and one each of Milk, Bitter (Dark), White, Green Tea, and Raw Kit Kat Fingers.

Kit Kat Chocolatory Sublime Ruby

You'd think that at this price point the wafers would be a little larger but no, they are exactly the same size as regular Kit Kats.

Kit Kat Chocolatory Sublime Ruby

The verdict? Well, it's actually pretty cool to get a pink chocolate that really does taste like strawberries / mixed berries (and yet there are no berries, or berry flavours, or any pink colours).

But the pricing is really something else. Kit Kat sells single sticks at ¥432 (USD4.05/SGD5.35), which to be honest is eye-bleedingly expensive. When the exclusive arrangement expires, I'm sure that Ruby Chocolate will start appearing in more products in more countries, and prices will hopefully / surely drop.

In the meantime if you really must try this new chocolate type before anyone else, then get somebody in Japan to buy one for you; or if you're a resident in USA, Europe, HK and Macau, you can order some directly from Japan: 10 sticks of Ruby Kit Kat + 24 mini sticks of Green Tea Kit Kat will "only" cost you ¥10000. Happy eating!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Creme Caramel Cake at ESSE DUE (エッセドゥエ) - Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman Episode 10

If you're reading this then you're probably a Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman fan like we are. And like us, you might be thinking of paying a few of the shops a visit on your next trip to Tokyo. To help you a little in your quest, today we bring you a short write-up of the Creme Caramel Cake (Caramel Pudding) at ESSE DUE (エッセドゥエ) from episode 10 of the show!

Kantaro Sweet Tooth Salaryman ESSE DUE Creme Caramel Pudding Cake

Follow this link to go back to the master list of all the other dessert shops / cafes.

🍨 I guess Creme Caramel needs no introduction - it's a really popular custard dessert topped with a layer of soft caramel. What's a little different about ESSE DUE's version is that it's served as a slice of cake and topped with whipped cream. Aesthetics aside, though, it's superbly executed: the custard's smooth, jiggly but firm, and the caramel has been cooked/burnt just long enough to impart the perfect amount of bitter. Divine.

🍴 Unlike many of the other shops on Kantaro's list which are dedicated dessert joints, ESSE DUE is first and foremost an Italian restaurant. During our lunch visit we shared a pizza lunch and salad lunch (there's also a pasta lunch option), which comes with pizza, salad, and your choice of cold or hot coffee/tea.

Kantaro Sweet Tooth Salaryman ESSE DUE Pizza Kantaro Sweet Tooth Salaryman ESSE DUE Salad Kantaro Sweet Tooth Salaryman ESSE DUE Coffee

Ultimately, we thought that the food was mediocre/subpar, so ask for the dessert menu if you just want cake!

👥 Crowd: We visited on a Friday lunchtime, and the ground floor dining area shop was around two-thirds full. Do note, though, that ESSE DUE is firmly in the middle of office territory, so it's possible that they are less crowded on weekends.

🚄 Access: As always, directions via Google Maps rarely ever fail me in Tokyo, but if you won't have Internet connectivity then the restaurant is a few minutes walk from exit B6 of the Akasaka Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line).

Tabelog Link for your quick reference on opening days / hours. Reservations not accepted.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Bavarian Matcha Cream at Kinozen (紀の善) - Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman Episode 6

If you're reading this then you're probably a Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman fan like we are. And like us, you might be thinking of paying a few of the shops a visit on your next trip to Tokyo. To help you a little in your quest, today we bring you a short write-up of the Bavarian Matcha Cream at Kinozen (紀の善) from episode 6 of the show!

Follow this link to go back to the master list of all the other dessert shops / cafes.

🍨 Bavarian Matcha Cream is an East-meets-West sort of dessert: The Bavarian Cream itself originating from somewhere in Europe (Wikipedia seems conflicted whether it's of German or French origin), and the Matcha (green tea) and Anko (Red Bean Paste) originating from Japan.

If you don't want to ask for an English menu, the Japanese name of the dessert is "Matcha Babaroa" (抹茶ババロア). There's also a Chestnut Bavarian Cream ("Kuri Babaroa," 栗ババロア), which was unfortunately not in season when we visited in the winter.

Kantaro Sweet Tooth Salaryman Bavarian Matcha Cream Kinozen

As is somewhat standard with most (all?) Japanese dessert shops, the waitresses give you hot green tea and sometimes some small snacks once you're seated; Here at Kinozen (紀の善) the snack is a somewhat vaguely cat-shaped Senbei (rice cracker).

Kantaro Sweet Tooth Salaryman Bavarian Matcha Cream Kinozen

We asked for two orders of the Bavarian Matcha Cream / Matcha Babaroa / 抹茶ババロア. The dessert was really good: The green tea flavour profile accompanying perfectly the red bean paste. We weren't so sure about the whipped cream, though - Bavarian Cream is after all primarily a thickened milk-and-cream mixture, and adding more whipped cream on top of that was a tad bit much on the dairy. In hindsight perhaps we should have shared two different desserts.

Kantaro Sweet Tooth Salaryman Bavarian Matcha Cream Kinozen

👥 Crowd: We visited on a Friday afternoon, and the two-storey shop was around 80-90% full. If you visit on a weekend, it's probably pretty likely that there'll be a queue.

🚄 Access: As always, directions via Google Maps rarely ever fail me in Tokyo, but if you won't have Internet connectivity then take exit B3 or B2a of the Iidabashi Station (JR Chuo-Sobu Line; Tokyo Metro Tozai, Yurakucho, Namboku and Oedo Lines); Kinozen is a a minute or two walk away.

Kantaro Sweet Tooth Salaryman Bavarian Matcha Cream Kinozen Kantaro Sweet Tooth Salaryman Bavarian Matcha Cream Kinozen

Tabelog Link for your quick reference on opening days / hours. Reservations not accepted.

Mamekan at Akasaka Sagamiya (赤坂 相模屋) - Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman Episode 3

If you're reading this then you're probably a Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman fan like we are. And like us, you might be thinking of paying a few of the shops a visit on your next trip to Tokyo. To help you a little in your quest, today we bring you a short write-up of the Mamekan at Akasaka Sagamiya (赤坂 相模屋) from episode 3 of the show!

Kantaro Sweet Tooth Salaryman Mamekan Akasaka Sagamiya Sweets Princess
Yes, we're nerdy like that

Follow this link to go back to the master list of all the other dessert shops / cafes.

In episode 3, Kantaro tried to execute the "Mamekan Triathlon," eating three bowls of Mamekan from three different shops. We didn't have the time (or the stamina) to do the same, so we picked Akasaka Sagamiya, the third shop, as it was the most conveniently located for us. If you recall, however, Kantaro actually had take out, and ate the Mamekan at home, because ...

Kantaro Sweet Tooth Salaryman Mamekan Akasaka Sagamiya

... except that he didn't, really. We ended being a casualty of the non-literal translation, because what Kantaro actually said - "赤坂相模屋には、残念だがら、イートインのコーナーはない" - literally means "Unfortunately, Akasaka Sagamiya does not have any eat-in corner (area)," i.e. you have no choice but to order take out. Oh well. Anyway ...

🍨 Mamekan is a Japanese traditional dessert not too unlike Anmitsu (which we blogged about a few days ago). It has the same base of Kanten (Agar Jelly Cubes) and Kuromitsu (Dark Syrup), but instead of having red beans and fruits, it concentrates on Kuromame (Sweet Black Soybeans).

Kantaro Sweet Tooth Salaryman Mamekan Akasaka Sagamiya Kantaro Sweet Tooth Salaryman Mamekan Akasaka Sagamiya

Before we continue, apologies in advance for the aesthetically-challenged presentation. If you are a resident in Tokyo I'm sure you'll have no problem, but as visitors to the city staying in a business hotel, we had to improvise by using coffee mugs in place of bowls, and crudely chopping up the Kanten with a plastic coffee stirrer borrowed from a Family Mart downstairs. Aesthetics doesn't change the taste (much) though, we hope!

Oh by the way, the two mugs pictured below make up half of the "three person portion take-out pack" (¥1200).

Kantaro Sweet Tooth Salaryman Mamekan Akasaka Sagamiya Kantaro Sweet Tooth Salaryman Mamekan Akasaka Sagamiya

The dessert ended up to be quite delicious, if perhaps a little one-dimensional. Unlike Anmitsu's variety of flavours, Mamekan really is all about the sweet soy beans, so your enjoyment of the bowl will probably depend a lot on how much you like (or don't like) them.

👥 Crowd: As mentioned, this shop is take-out only so there shouldn't be any problem with crowds.

🚄 Access: As always, directions via Google Maps rarely ever fail me in Tokyo, but if you won't have Internet connectivity then Akasaka Sagamiya (赤坂 相模屋) is within walking distance of either the Akasaka (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line) or Akasaka-Mitsuke (Tokyo Metro Ginza, Marunouchi Line) stations. It's also a short walk from Esse Due (episode 10), which has decent Italian food and a killer Creme Caramel Cake.

Kantaro Sweet Tooth Salaryman Mamekan Akasaka Sagamiya

Tabelog Link for your quick reference on opening days / hours. Reservations and credit cards not applicable.