Sweet potato chocolate


A little while ago I wrote about a box of chestnut chocolates I had bought in Japan. That was only half the story, as the box also contained sweet potato chocolate, keeping in line with the autumnal theme. These chocolates had a double-layered filling. On the bottom was a sweet potato puree and on top was a kind of caramel. The whole thing was coated in chocolate. Although it was surely an interesting combination, I couldn’t exactly pick up on the sweet potato. The chocolate itself was nice enough though.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 6


Sugar cane juice


In Guangzhou, a major city in the south of China, I often see street vendor slinging freshly squeezed sugar cane juice. The last time I went there I bought bottle to try. Sugar cane is obviously used to make sugar, so I imagined this drink to be super sweet. This, however, was not the case. Sure, it was sweet, but no sweeter than any other fruit juice. It tasted a little “grassy” to me. Makes sense, I guess, as I believe sugar cane officially is a sort of grass.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6

Green tea scone


My very last bite to eat in Japan was going to be breakfast at the airport in Osaka. After going through customs it turned out that there were really next to no choices. There was one Starbucks, and that was about it. I was determined to get at least something local, so I opted for a green tea scone, something I haven’t seen served anywhere else.

The matcha powder had turned the whole scone green, so I was worried it would be too overpowering. Even though there was definitely a strong savory note the flavor was not too strong. I think it was also counterbalanced by the big chunks of white chocolate that give this scone that little bit of sweetness it was crying out for.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 7


Kangaroo tataki


I don’t think kangaroos roam freely in Japan, and yet I found a helping of kangaroo on the menu at “Rice and Circus” in Tokyo. Having never eaten kangaroo before, I jumped at the opportunity. It was served as tataki, meaning it was seared very quickly, and then thinly sliced. A mix of carpaccio and rare steak.

I was a bit apprehensive as I had heard kangaroo can be quite tough when cooked incorrectly, but because the meat was so rare, there was nothing to worry about. It was as tender as can be. Even though I couldn’t make out any big distinction between this and any other steak, I did like the kangaroo tataki a lot. I hope to try out a bigger piece of roo next time.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 8


Lavender ricotta cake


Dominique Ansel, the inventor of the Cronut, was recently voted best pastry chef in the world. He has a shop in New York, and two in Tokyo which is where I found myself glaring at all the beautiful cakes and pastries. There were cronuts, cakes floating in balloons, watermelon shaped cakes and oh so many more options to choose from. I had my cake and ate it too, and then bought another one to take home. One of the more durable cakes was a lavender ricotta cake.

Lavender is one of those ingredients that you have to be so precise with. Use just a hair too much and your cake will taste like potpourri. That’s why you don’t see so many lavender desserts at all. When I got back home to China it was time to dig in. I half expected a dry baked cake, but it was so incredibly soft and moist. It turned out to be a cheesecake after all, what with the ricotta and all. This definitely counts as the best cheesecake I have ever had as it was light as a feather – a difficult thing to pull of in a cheesecake. The lavender was there giving it an interesting floral note, but it was not overpowering. I’m going to New York in January, so I better find myself on Dominique’s doorstep.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 9


Pistachio and grapefruit KitKat


The good folks of Nestle Japan haven’t only released hundreds of variations of KitKats, they have also set up a small chain of high end KitKat shops called Chocolatery. Here you can find elevated KitKats and even have some served on dry ice.

I bought a small box of pistachio and grapefruit flavored KitKats to see if they really were that high quality. As with many citrus flavored chocolates, it was all mixed with white chocolate. I expected a to see a hint of green, but there was no sign of pistachio in either sight or taste. The grapefruit was definitely there though, giving the candy bar a tart taste which I quite enjoyed.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7


Morning tea flavored water


I don’t know why people drink so much water, when there are so many other things to drink. I guess it’s a health issue. Water of course, contains no sugar, no additives and no calories. Water is the source of life. I also find water to be so dull and bland that I only drink one bottle a day. I do enjoy some lemon flavored water from time to time, as that can be a real thirst quencher.

In Japan they took one step further and released a morning tea flavored water. First I thought, why not just drink morning tea? That was until I tried it myself. It was clearly a bottle of water, and not tea as it was completely see-through, but you could definitely taste the tea. It didn’t just taste like tea, it actually tasted like milk tea. I thought it was a wonderful contraption. This is a great way of letting people drink healthily, without being bored by water.

Fear Factor: 0 / Taste test – 8




Blowfish, known as fugu in Japan, is one of the most famous “unusual” foods to eat in Japan. Everybody has heard of this infamous spiky fish that blow itself up like a balloon in case of danger. The reason it’s so well-known is the fact that this fish is poisonous. It’s not just dangerous, it can kill a man. Luckily only a small part of the fish is inedible. The rest can be eaten, as long as the fish is handled correctly.

Fugu is a very expensive thing to eat, as it needs a trained professional to prepare. I didn’t want to spend too much money on a whole meal, so when I came across some blowfish at the market in Kyoto, I thought it would be safe to try. The salesman heated up the two fillets of fish and poured some sauce over it. It tasted like any other white fish to me. I guess the main reason for people to eat this fish is not the taste, but the danger.

To be honest, I kind of doubt that this was actually blowfish. I feel like the fillets would have been bigger. Also I thought it would have been more expensive. Anyway at the time of eating I was convinced it was indeed blowfish, so the fear factor still holds.

Fear Factor – 3 / Taste Test – 6


Vegetable juice donuts


Mixing vegetable juice with fruit juice is nothing new. Health conscience consumers have been mixing their own blends of juices for a good while now. A vegetable juice donut on the other hand is not something I have come across before. Mr. Donut in Japan recently sold a limited edition of three mini donuts flavored with vegetable and fruit juice.

These so-called “veggie pops” came in three colors, each with its own set of ingredients. The red donut contains carrot, tomato and strawberry with strawberry being the stand out flavor that I picked up on. The orange donut contains pumpkin, carrot and apple. Here I could mostly taste apple juice. Finally, the green donut contains spinach and pineapple, but this one didn’t make a big impression on me. Interestingly enough I really did pick up the flavor of juice, and not simply the flavor of fruit.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 8


Pickled mackerel sushi


You don’t normally see mackerel on a list of sushi options. Mackerel is a very oily fish and it will go off very quickly when kept raw. In Japan they have found a great solution for this. They pickle the mackerel in salt and vinegar. I grabbed a plate of pickled mackerel sushi when it came round on the conveyor belt.

I was expecting something very sour and acidic, but that was not the case. For the most part it was just about a normal taste of mackerel, and the texture hadn’t changed all that much either. I guess it was only slightly pickled.

Fear Factor – 3 / Taste Test – 7