Aji WOW: yuzu salt crisps
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: yuzu and salt crisps.
So, yuzu is a citrus fruit. It's like a cross between a lemon and a tangerine, and it looks slightly like a grapefruit. Yuzu: the fruit with the identity crisis.
I love yuzu. Can't get enough of it. I drink yuzu tea, I eat yuzu ice cream, I pour yuzu dressing on salads, I've bathed in the stuff. If you put 'yuzu' in the name of a dish, I'll probably eat it.
But the idea of citrus crisps is still a bit... weird. Anyone who's ever accidentally squirted lemon juice onto their chips will know what I mean. It hasn't gone mainstream - and considering that even prawn cocktail managed to go mainstream, that's how much citrus crisps freak us out.
Once again, Calbee comes through with a limited crisp flavour (link in Japanese only).
"It's simple, but addictive."
The bag says 'limited time only' but the website says 'until the shops run out'. So I've got no idea how long these are actually available for. Uncertainty = buy it now.
The pack says to expect the building scent of yuzu and the tasty addictiveness of ready salted. It's made with Japan-famous Ishigaki salt, from an island off Okinawa.
The salt comes directly from the sea water, and meant to be packed with minerals. That is the last thing on my mind when I buy crisps. I don't search the back of the bag for mineral content. And I definitely ignore the calorie count.
I opened the packet and took a deep sniff. Here's where things got strange. I wasn't getting any citrus. Or anything, for that matter. A quick peek in the bag revealed normal-looking slices of potato. Not a scurvy-like yellow tinge to be seen.
Instead of smelling like yuzu and tasting like salt, these crisps smell like salt and taste like yuzu. Oh hey, that isn't confusing at all.
Once you get used to the lemon-y taste, they're pretty nice. The salt's rich, and mixed with kombu dashi for a deeper flavour. Stops the crisps from being too sweet.
It doesn't have the impact I was hoping for. I tried yuzu-shio senbei (rice crackers), and they were so seasoned my tongue exploded. I could've eaten those every day for the rest of my life. These crisps? Lacking.
Verdict: 7/10. When life gives you lemons, make crisps?