I was a little confused about the Tokyo airport when I flew through there a few weeks ago. It seemed so… rundown. Ceiling tiles missing, chairs blocking entrances, stores closed. And then I saw this sign. Uh-oh. What had I missed during my media blockout?
Turns out the third reactor was about to go, so I did what any slightly-nervous very-jetlagged consumer might do. I bought Kit Kats. Lots of them.
You probably already know that Kit Kats are the lucky treat in Japan. The local name for them, kitto katto, sounds an awful lot like the pre-exam expression of goodwill, “kitto katsu,” which means “win without fail.” (Sweep the leg, Johnny!) So they’ve got a lot of them. Before every exam, everyone gives out kit kats. Woo tells me there are 80 200 different flavors.
Sadly, Narita only had six. But I bought them all.
They’re cute… some of the boxes even have space to write notes or love letters to your friends. I wish Starbucks had that, too. I’d write a letter to myself every morning. Now that would be fun.
Anyway… on to the taste test!
Everything in Asia is available in green tea flavor. Ice cream, candy, toothpaste. At least this was dyed green. (This would be perfect for St. Paddy’s Day, really.) Woo and I both loved it, but Tara wasn’t so impressed. “It’s like I dropped my kitkat in my green tea,” she started, before revising, “no, it’s more like I’m actually eating a dried tea bag. Ew.”
Sakura Matcha Kit Kat
This one’s a real treat — it’s only sold during springtime, presumably so you can gaze on the cherry blossoms while feasting on your connected sticks of chockie love. Sweet, milky, a little bit florally. “They say this thing, this magic we share together, came with the weather too,” as Cherry Blossom Dearie once sang. It did. It’s a Cherry Blossom Kit Kat.
Dark Chocolate Kit Kat
Oooooh…. sophisticated. “Now this,” asserted Woo, “This is a Kit Kat for grownups.” It’s not too sweet, it’s got depth, and flavor, and that little crunchy bit in the middle. Perfect! “I wouldn’t give any away,” said Tara. “It would match a Guinness or a coffee, perfectly.”
Coke / Sprite Kit Kat
Ayaaaa! After the glory of the dark chocolate Kit Kat, this combo was just hideous. “I don’t like that,” said Woo of the Coke-, or cola-, flavored bar. It reminded me of those little bottle-shaped gummy bears I used to love as a kid, but I didn’t love this one at all. The white bar did have the scent of Sprite, but it tasted like lemon-scented Windex. Chemical, false, and horrid. (I have to admit, though, that I finished the other two bars when Woo wasn’t looking. Something about this pair kept drawing me back.
Soy Sauce Kit Kat
The one we all came for. It’s a reduced-size white chocolate bar, with such a minimal hint of salt that almost no-one could taste it. (Although Ginger immediately asked, “Is it salt flavor?”) It went down nice, soft and subtle. “Is that all there is to it,” Woo asked, disappointed.
But then, after swallowing the last bite, you could suddenly sense it on your breath. It felt like you’d just finished drinking a cup of soy sauce. Not soy milk, but soy sauce. “Oh god,” howled Tara, “this is disgusting!” Ginger was furious with me. It was weird, and horrible. I yawned, and it was even worse. Someone belched, then cried out, “Oh my god, I feel sick!”
I have a few bars of this left, if you’d like one…
(*Thanks to all the volunteers — Woo, Sof, Zac, Tara, Matt, Ginger — that helped me and my run-down tastebuds identify what the hell was going on with some of these. Especially the soy sauce one.)