I found these quite a long time ago at Uwajimaya in Bellevue. They’re all chocolate-flavored, but sourced from three different countries: Australia, England (United Kingdom), and Japan. If you’re wondering why the United States isn’t in there, it’s probably because Nestle doesn’t make American KitKats at all, and it wouldn’t be a very good comparison anyway.
This bag contains five double mini bars from England and Australia, and three from Japan (because the target audience would presumably already be familiar with them).
So! You don’t often get a chance to sample regional versions of well-known products side by side, so I think this was a really neat idea on Nestle’s part. Personally, I’d previously tried chocolate KitKats from the United States, Japan, Dubai and Canada, and aside from the American ones I don’t think I ever noticed a difference. So I was excited!
The printed descriptions are more informative and complex than anything I’ve tried to half-assedly translate before, so I’ll defer to this translation from MMM-FRUIT!:
- The UK (イギリス), also known as “The Birthplace” or Origin chocolate, features a burnt sugar and milk flavor, with a subtle amount (0.38%) of almond paste to bring out the flavor.
- Australia (オーストラリア), or “Proud of Mother Nature” chocolate, has a creamy vanilla taste. It contains 0.36% of a cream powder to give it a sweet taste.
- Japan (日本), or “Balance” chocolate, is just that: a balance of aroma and flavor.
Both the Australian and British bars were very noticeably, surprisingly, creamy — as described. If you really pay attention, you can pick out the marzipan-like flavor in the UK version, which is a nice little bonus treat, but they’re both quite similar in character.
The Japanese version suffered in comparison. Nestle describe it as “balanced” but there was kind of a metallic sourness to it that was unpleasant after the other two varieties, followed by a generic sweetness that wasn’t creamy at all. Honestly, if you’d put me in a blind taste test and told me one of these was from Hershey, PA, I would have picked out the Japanese one for sure.
… But maybe familiarity breeds contempt.
One way in which none of these are like American KitKats — careful when you handle them! They melt something like instantly in your hands.
Remember The Motherlode? I’ve been really bad about tearing into it, mostly because the box is so pretty. But it’s time.
The top drawer in the box is labeled “Shinshu / Tōhoku.” The only flavor from Tōhoku is zunda mochi, which we’ve already covered. Shinshu has Shinshu Apple, which we’ll try next time, and these:
Ooh. Shiny. Gold.
Ichimi is a Japanese ground red chili, similar to Korean gochujang but spicier and not as sweet. I like some spice in my chocolate on occasion (most recently in Frost’s Aztec Chocolate Doughnut), and it does seem pretty trendy lately. I don’t know if the fad’s hit Japan yet, because it sure took a while to get some spicy KitKats. But were they worth the wait?
The first bite is subtle — the coating is soft, slightly melty, very dark. Not quite as dark as the Semisweet, but close: slightly bitter, strongly chocolate in flavor, it’s really a nice change from Nestle’s usual, over-sweet approach.
It’s only after a moment that the bitterness just kind of becomes heat, a transition so smooth that you almost wonder whether the taste was really bitter at all, or if it was just the first stage of spice. The fire is surprisingly strong, though it builds up slowly. Two bars and five minutes later heat was trailing all the way down my throat, warm and toasty.
If that all sounds very mellow, it’s because I’m super-happy now. This was probably my favorite new flavor in a very long while — well-balanced, delicious, and perfectly timed for the turn in the weather. I’m really glad that Nestle trusted the flavors enough not to blast us with sweetness for once. I’m also suddenly curious what a shichimi KitKat would taste like.
Well, that’s one down. Hopefully the rest of the box continues this trend!
Continuing the Shinshu tray of the motherlode, we have Shinshu Apple limited edition KitKats. These are the third apple-flavored KitKats I’ve tried, although unfortunately I don’t have detailed notes on the other two so I can’t really compare.
Opening the package, the fragrance is powerfully apple-like. The flavor when biting in is similarly strong, although it takes on a kind of artificiality, like a gala apple that rolled into the uncanny valley. If you’ve ever had a Kasugai apply gummy candy, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The coating is a soft milk chocolate, not overly sweet but distinctly cocoa-flavored, with strong hints of hazelnut. That’s nice.
Overall, I liked it, but it wasn’t one I’ll remember forever. I think a more realistic apple flavor could have taken it over the edge, but it’s worth trying as is.
Oh! I did an accounting the other day and realized these were the 73rd variety of KitKat I’ve tasted. 73! I don’t even know how that happened.