Anyone who has ever gone on a trip to Japan with me knows that I always bring a luggage that’s twice as big as I actually need. Why? Because half of that is going to get filled with snack food souvenirs. I even bring a portable weighing scale just to make sure I don’t go over the weight limit lol. I can’t seem to stop myself from buying and trying Japanese snack foods. How they come up with all these creative and delicious things is beyond me. I’m not complaining though!
Limited Edition Pocky flavors
I am not ashamed to admit that I am a sucker for Pocky. Maybe a part of me knows that this treat won’t let me down, considering how I have enjoyed about 85% of the Pocky flavors I have tried so far. The standouts are the giant Pocky variants. Compared to the seasonal Pocky flavors, the giant Pocky line is mostly location-limited, meaning you can only find a specific flavord in specific places. (This does not include the giant Rainbow Pocky, which is just meh for me.) The Japanese are so good at producing regional limited edition stuff. I always play right into their hands!
My instant reaction any time I see a never-before-tried flavor of giant Pocky is to add to cart. Without even looking at the price. Any time I’m in a major transportation hub, be it an airport or train station (or even a rest stop!) I automatically scour the shelves for giant Pocky. It feels like a treasure hunt to me. In this instance, I was able to find Gorojima Kintoki Sweet Potato Pocky and Shinshu Kyoho Grape Pocky. The sweet potato one was delightful! Eventually, I was also able to find the giant Pocky that is limited to Tokyo, and it’s the Tokyo Amazake flavor.
Usually, when the Japanese add tea and sake to their sweets, the results are pretty good. The Amazake Pocky was no exception. I also really loved the sakura-matcha Pocky. It’s awesome when they make Pocky with different flavored biscuits to complement the flavored chocolate coating. Nomnom!
A collection of flavored Pretz
When I saw this beautiful pack of assorted Pretz, I immediately grabbed it from the shelf. You know how they say variety is the spice of life? When it comes to Pretz and Pocky, that’s a good mantra to follow. Frankly, eating the different flavors of Pretz in Japan has ruined the Pretz products of other countries for me.
Compared to Pocky, Pretz has a more flavorful pretzel biscuit base which they dust with very fine powdered flavoring. I find the savory variants stand out more than the sweet.
Other regional and seasonal biscuits
You guys, I’m a sucker for Bourbon’s biscuit products (ie. the Alfort biscuits) so I was curious when I spotted this Rum Raisin Gateau flavor. It was on the sweet side but I liked it well enough. The Shinshu Grape Cream Collon cookies tasted like Pocky, just in a different configuration. I kind of regret buying that. But one thing I will never regret buying? Matcha white chocolate-stuffed pretzel sticks. Toppo makes some of the best. Actually, I think the Toppo one is not seasonal. I seem to always manage to buy it in every visit.
Limited Edition Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory cookies
As a fan of Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory’s cookies, I was delighted when I spotted their limited edition product at Narita Airport. You can only get the limited edition product if you buy it in a set along with their other mainstay flavors. Unfortunately, it’s a fixed set, so you can’t choose the flavors that comes with it. My personal favorite is the Porcini & Gouda, but that flavor does not come with the set. Boo hoo.
And if you’re curious, I wasn’t really blown away by the Strawberry & Milk Tea Cookies. Porcini & Gouda still number one!
Limited Edition Kit-Kat’s
Every time I go to Japan I keep telling myself: ENOUGH WITH THE KIT-KAT’S! And yet… I still bring home so many different flavors lol. I can’t resist sake flavored anything! Since Japan has a variety of sake, they also manage to create a lot of Kit-Kat sake products. (Just like how they make a lot of Royce Nama flavors with Japanese spirits.)
Having tried a number of Kit-Kat flavors over the years, I personally think the best Kit-Kat’s are the tea-flavored ones and the sake-flavored ones. But then again, I enjoy tea and alcoholic desserts.
Matcha snack foods and confections
Much as I love matcha, I would say I’m pretty selective with the matcha products I buy. It’s because most of them are white chocolate based, and I’m not a white chocolate lover. I often feel it’s too sweet for my taste. But because Bourbon Alfort cookies are my weaknesses, and dark chocolate covered matcha bonbons are too, I had to buy these. The Matcha Tiramisu Chocolate are a regular purchase for my family, and I highly recommend them either as gifts or as something to binge on.
Ahh the cereals that always take up so much of my luggage space and weight allotment! And yet I cannot leave Japan without them! Something about the combo of puffed rice, oats, and freeze-dried fruits in these Calbee cereals make them so satisfying. They aren’t too sweet also. I always take home at least three Calbee cereals, because these are so cheap in Japan but are being sold at a ridiculous price here in Manila.
I do believe there are seasonal flavors for these cereals, but so far my favorites seem to be permanent flavors. The Fruit Granola variant (called Frugra, I think) and the Less Sugar variant are still the best ones for me, but I’m adding the Matcha variant into the favorites list.
Japanese rice cracker products
As someone addicted to Japanese rice snacks, these are regular purchases for me too. Fortunately, a lot of local Japanese marts sell these locally for fair prices now, so at least I can free up some luggage space next time.
Instant Ippudo Ramen
It comes as no surprise to me that my favorite ramen chain also makes my favorite Japanese instant ramen. These taste better than Ichiran ramen. (Oh yes, I said it.) The noodles are great quality and the flavors are satisfying too! No powder in sight!
Seven-Eleven Limited Premium Instant Ramen
Though not as delicious as the Ippudo instant ramen, these Seven Eleven-limited ramen variants are quite novel. They feature the instant version of the noodles sold by famous ramen shops around Japan. So far I’ve tried Ippudo, Nakiryu, and Sumire. I think I like Sumire best.
Nissin Raoh & Marutai Instant Noodles
As a noodle lover, I think that Japan make some pretty amazing instant noodles. They don’t quite take first place, but they’re definitely in my top 3. I enjoy most of the flavors of Nissin’s Raoh line, and I also really like the variety of the Marutai brand. Again, not as great as the Ippudo instant ramen, but a lot of effort has been put into making sure the flavors are right.
Also, in the case of Marutai, their lineup features different regional ramen. It’s fun trying them out and trying to analyze which region’s ramen you like best. So far they have managed to somehow capture the specialty ramen of each region.
Matcha & hojicha tea products
The last set of products from my haul are tea products. For the record, there’s still nothing like pure good quality matcha and hojicha, but these instant options aren’t too bad. I do highly recommend the Ito-en Genmaicha tea. It’s my favorite tea!
As for the instant matcha latte powder, if you like a richer-tasting matcha latte drink, Tsujiri is a decent option. I bought this out of curiosity because I really enjoy Tsujiri’s matcha soft serve, but as someone who drinks matcha beverages made with ceremonial grade matcha, I should’ve expected it wouldn’t taste as satisfying. I tend to prefer making my matcha lattes from scratch, but if you prefer the ease of instant matcha latte, you may want to try this. As for me, I think I’ll concentrate more on buying good quality pure matcha powder next time.
And that’s about it for this edition of my Japanese food souvenir haul. I noticed there are a lot of items from this list that are now available on Shopee and other online channels. That’s something, at least.
Other posts in this series:
- A stroll through Ueno Park
- A brief visit and lunch at Ameyayoko Market
- A lovely visit to Meiji Shrine
- An excursion to Yanaka-Ginza & Takeshita Street
- A view of Shibuya from Hoshino Coffee
- Touring around Yamanashi’s Fuji Five Lakes & Oshino Hakkai
- The crowded but glorious Nezu Shrine
- My Favorite Tokyo Snapshots & Travel Video
- Some memorable Tokyo Eats from Spring of 2019