Aji WOW: Calorie Mate
Aji WOW is my series of unusual Japanese food/drink reviews. 'Aji' (味) means 'flavour', and the name's also a pun on 'ajiwau' (味わう) - 'to enjoy the taste of'.
This time: Calorie Mate.
Fans of Metal Gear Solid will find this oddly familiar.
Calorie Mate is a meal replacement - blocks of flavoured 'health bar'. Each bar is 100 calories, and also contains ramped-up levels of vitamins. Mmmmm, appetising.
Why the name? I'll let the makers explain:
"Calorie Mate contains a balance of five nutrients (protein, fat, sugars, vitamins, and minerals), making it a good “friend” for ensuring a balanced diet."
It's not designed as something to rely on for dieting. It's not actually 'health food', because most of those calories are carbs and fat, just less of them. And I suspect if you swapped out every meal for Calorie Mate you'd start losing the will to live.
When I picked this up at the convenience store, I had the choice of Vanilla (Plain), Chocolate, Cheese, Fruits, and Maple. The ratio of sweet to savoury options there is a little disconcerting. Yes, I want to replace my dinner with a fruit salad...
I went for cheese. I've been burned by artificial fruit flavours before. (Seriously, you should see the roof of my mouth.) That, and apparently the cheese version was the first Calorie Mate that went on sale. Original and best? We shall see.
Yep, that's me. At a train station, wondering why I didn't just stop for a proper lunch.
Before even subjecting myself to the Calorie Mate, I had to make it past the packaging.
"CALORIE MATE BLOCK is a nutritionally balanced source of the energy needed for daily activities. CALORIE MATE BLOCK is naturally suited for people on-the-go who need an easy source of energy and nutrition - at breakfast, work, sports, study, or any busy time."
- nice use of the Oxford Comma there, Calorie Mate
- Engrish seems legit
- OH HAI THERE ALL CAPS
- that hyphenation onto the next line is bugging me
I peeled open the packet and peeked at the bars.
Oh hell, they look like shortbread. This isn't going to be fun.
The cheese aroma was fairly realistic, which was a comfort. Had that not been the case, the review would've ended here.
Calorie Mate is surprisingly soft and crumbly when you bite into it. If you're anything like me, you'll prepare for the hardness of shortbread and chomp the bar clean in half.
The taste is... powdery. Like giving up on making protein shakes and eating straight from the jar. You could easily get away with handing this to a kid and calling it 'space food'. It lumps together as you chew. I wouldn't advise eating this without having a drink handy.
Strangely, that 'powder' sense extends to the cheese taste - similar to shaking a can of parmesan into your mouth. Some people like doing that. I'm not one of them.
Verdict: 4/10. Calorie Casual Acquaintance. If I'm going to stop eating something, it'll be this. Heck, I shouldn't even have started...