Aji WOW: Calbee x Lotteria potato snacks
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: Calbee x Lotteria special collab potato snacks: prawn burger, butter soy sauce fries, and veggie hamburger.
Every time. I go the supermarket for 1 thing, I come out with 7-8 things instead. Every single time. And this time, too, when I wandered past some limited edition bags of crunchy snacks.
I like Lotteria. I've reviewed their weirder burgers before. And I was hoping, with 2 big brands doing a collab like this, that all these snacks would taste amazing.
These are based on standard 'Kappa Ebisen' prawn snacks. You can also get them as oil-free 'for 1-year-olds onwards' snacks, and with 50% reduced salt. Yeah, in Japan we start kids on the prawns nice and early.
No idea how much salt was in these, I didn't bother checking.
So far, so prawn cracker. I confess I've never eaten normal Kappa Ebisen, though. But I've eaten other prawn snacks in my lifetime, and I knew roughly what to expect.
They did taste a little weird - I'd describe it as a 'burnt' aftertaste. The Lotteria burger has a deep fried prawn patty, that must be it. Trying to recreate the 'deep fried' flavour in the snacks. You can tell they tried, at any rate.
Verdict: 6/10, not awful but not all that memorable.
LONG butter soy sauce potato sticks
Lotteria, First Kitchen and some other burger chains in Japan offer flavoured powder options when you order fries. 'Butter soy sauce' is a menu staple, along with 'consomme' and 'BBQ'.
Either the powder's already in the bag, or you get to pour it in yourself. Empty out the powder packet, close the bag, and shake those fries like your life depends on it.
The Calbee snacks come pre-powdered, no bag shaking needed. You can't say these don't look like fries. And you can't say they aren't LONG, either.
The butter taste is pretty strong, in a good way. And that sweetness gets balanced out by the taste of soy sauce. They're easy to eat - I was going to eat half and save half, but I got through the whole packet in 1 go.
Verdict: 8/10, would snack on again.
Veggie hamburger bites
I've had Calbee's vegetable ('vegi-taberu') snacks before. They're heart-shaped, which is cute. Sometimes there's a random double-size heart in the pack, also cute.
And these snacks do legit contain vegetables. Green is spinach and green pepper, yellow is squash and yellow pepper, red is carrot, red pepper and tomato. The ingredient list also has 'mushroom extract powder', yum.
I think you're meant to eat a handful at a time to get the full 'salad' effect.
Didn't taste any 'burger' in the mix with these. At all. If it'd been a blind taste test, I would've said these were the normal veggie chips. That's a real shame. They don't taste bad, but I was hoping for a more noticeable difference.
Verdict: 5/10, average but I felt like I got 1 of my 5 a day out of it.
Eating all these snacks did make me feel like doing another Lotteria food review. Waiting until they put another weird burger out, or something interesting.