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Three Japanese Snacks I Love

Posted by Shannon on 04/19/2012

I went to Marukai Market last weekend and filled my shopping basket. Things started all healthy-like… red peppers, tofu, bean sprouts, shumai, dumplings. And then — I passed the beverage and snacks section — and things went absolutely sideways. These three snacks win a small place in my heart because they taste good and are unique and/or adorably packaged.

1. Ramune Soda

Marukai, Marukai Asian Market, Ramune, Japanese soda, Japanese Pop, The Foodie Photographer

To open these bottles you remove the plastic at the top to find a small plastic disk with a nub sticking out. You use the nub to press down on the glass marble sealing each ramune bottle shut. Once the seal is broken, the clear marble is released and drops partway down into the neck of the bottle. Since the glass bottle is designed with a pinch in the middle, the marble continues to entertain you while you drink by rolling around and floating in the bright, sugary drink each time you take a swig.

Marukai, Marukai Asian Market, Ramune, Japanese soda, Japanese Pop, The Foodie Photographer

As you can see, the flavor selection is as intense as the bright packaging. My favorite flavors are the original cider flavor, followed closely by lychee and melon. When I was in high school and college, I would drive 30 minutes to the Asian grocery store Uwajimaya (in Seattle’s Chinatown area), to pick up four or five bottles to have on back-up for the month.

2. Koriyama Cheese Cake

Marukai, Marukai Asian Market, Japanese Cheesecake, Cheesecake, Koriyama, The Foodie Photographer

This is Japanese-style cheesecake, so you must clear your preconceived notions of Cheesecake Factory style dessert out of your head. Each cake comes individually wrapped and is the texture of a light pound cake or sponge cake. They are in the refrigerated section, nestled somewhere between the tofu, Sapporro, and Yakult (if you’re Asian you already know).

I like the Koriyama brand the best. The other company’s cheesecake tastes fine, but I’ve always been partial to this brand. Their tagline both cracks me up and summarizes why this snack rocks: “Fabulous cake that melts in your mouth.”

3. Hello Panda by Meiji

Marukai, Marukai Asian Market, Hello Panda, Japanese biscuit, Japanese cookie, Meiji, The Foodie Photographer

These little snack biscuits were my comfort food during study sessions in college. Years later, “Panda” has somehow become one of my nicknames too. They’re my namesake, so I almost have to eat them occasionally. Snack justification? Probably. I’m a big fan of the plain biscuits filled with chocolate cream (not pictured here.) Each one has cartoons of a little panda in action.. playing soccer, sitting alongside bamboo, running around, etc. They’re small, one or two bite cookies, with an additional hit of sugar waiting inside….what’s not to love?

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