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: Sukiyaki-flavoured Jagarico potato sticks.
Jagarico/Jagabee is a brand of crunchy potato snacks from Calbee. I've reviewed a reasonable number of Calbee products already - mostly other crisps. So many crisps.
Once again, this is a limited edition flavour. Calbee seems to love those as much as I do. The sukiyaki Jagarico was on sale only at convenience stores, from December until January 10th. I had a few other reviews lined up, so I held onto these a little longer.
Yes, sukiyaki is a food. You might also be familiar with the song:
Sukiyaki isn't really a 'flavour', per se. It's a soup-style dish made with meat, tofu and vegetables. A big, warm and hearty stew - the closest Japan gets to hotpot, along with nabe. Ideal for sharing, which is why the whole Calbee giraffe family is on the pack.
Recreating the taste of so many different ingredients in one tub of crunchy sticks is no mean feat. And this Jagarico doesn't quite manage it.
The scent when you open the lid is strange - artificial. Almost like seafood sticks. No real food could smell quite that unusual. It didn't give me hope for how these were going to taste.
Apparently, you're meant to get the scent of spring onions and the deep 'umami' flavour of beef. If that smell is spring onion, then I need my nose tested.
That umami is unmistakeable once you bite into a stick. It's a difficult flavour to describe, and it was more or less all I could taste. Umami and lots of salt. The rest of my tastebuds didn't get a look in.
Something that does live up to expectations is the crunch. Putting the 'garigari' crunchiness (ガリガリ) in Ja-gari-co. (It's also a pun on 'jaga', which means 'potato'. I love food puns.) They're loud in sound, if not in flavour. I think eating these in public would've attracted attention.
Verdict: 5/10. Now, to find somewhere I can eat proper sukiyaki...