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: Baby Star snacks flavoured like the kotteri ramen from Tenka Ippin.
I love - LOVE - Tenka Ippin's kotteri ramen. It's thick, substantial, oily pork broth.
Other noodle enthusiasts give me grief because they're a fairly big chain. Oh, you've got to go to a tiny specialist place! One with, like, 4 seats and more staff than customers. Nah. Tenka knows they're onto a good thing, and they're putting it in as many branches as possible.
Baby Star ramen snacks are more of an 'eh'. They're crispy and crunchy... and for some reason, Japan's crazy about them. To me, the normal Baby Star is too small to eat without dropping a few between the bag and your mouth.
The clash between the 2 was in conveniences stores for about the blink of an eye. There was an assari (lighter, milder broth) version out too. I'm not the assari kind, it's not rich enough. You've got to feel like you're eating liquefied pig for it to be worth slurping.
See that deep kotteri broth lingering in the bowl there on the packet? Makes me dizzy just thinking about the stuff. If it wasn't for the calories and such, I'd eat a bowl of kotteri ramen every day.
The ginormous cartoon head in the way is Baby Star's ramen mascot, Hoshio-kun. This new character replaced long-standing Baby Star mascot Bee-chan a while back, and the public got to vote on Hoshio-kun's name.
Sometimes I'm really interested in that stuff, and I dedicate a decent chunk of my posts to that info. This time, nope. Get the bag open, get some kotteri in my face.
The bits inside the packet look pretty normal. Not bright with flavour powder, like Cheetos or whatever. I mean, sure, you'd think a thich flavour like kotteri would need more coating, not less. But I was ready to trust in Baby Star to deliver at just the right level.
The snacks didn't smell all that much, but kotteri's more about the taste. Not a warning sign by any means.So I popped a bit in my mouth.
Wow, these were dry. A weird mix between crunchy and chewy - Baby Star's not meant to be soft. The texture's powdery, but it's not all caused by flavour powder. And they didn't taste of anything that I recognise.
They're not kotteri. They're not... good. Flavour and texture were both a big letdown. If I hadn't opened the bag myself, I would've assumed these were stale.
As regular Aji WOW readers will know, it's not often I quit partway. It's happened before, but rarely. I tend to only give up on things that taste like they weren't meant to be eaten.
This packet went in the bin with at least half the snacks remaining. I wish I had better news than that. But nothing can replace an actual bowl of kotteri ramen, and I was a fool to think otherwise.
Verdict: 1/10. Should've stuck to the real thing. Tenka Ippin, here I come.