Popular tourist attractions and eateries aside, the one place we always make a point to visit while on holiday is the local supermarket. It’s really the best place to look for variety without breaking the wallet. What’s also great about supermarket shopping is that we can bring home packed snacks to try instead of having to eat everything during the trip.
Having recently returned from our holiday in Hokkaido, here’s our recommended list of Japanese snacks and food items we know you won’t regret trying. These snacks can be found in most local supermarkets throughout Japan as well as popular shops like Don Quixote.
男梅 plum candy
This one’s not for the sour wuss. It has a piquancy that hits you like a pong – and lasts throughout! But once you have gotten over the strong sour taste, you’ll start to enjoy the distinct sweet and salty flavours of the Japanese plum. Make sure you get the right plum candy, as there are similar looking ones. This particular candy has a powdery texture and is shaped like small round tablets.
Nissan Pork Broth Noodles
We couldn’t believe we were eating instant noodles when we first tried the Nissan Pork Broth Noodle. The broth is so natural-tasting and redolent of pork bone flavours that it’s not far-fetched to say it is comparable to the ramen you get at a noodle bar. The fine noodles are also firm and springy when cooked well, unlike the usual soggy texture you get from most instant noodles. So good we had to restrain ourselves from eating this daily.
Japanese rice sprinkles are easily available in Singapore but we haven’t actually seen this one here so far. Available in most major supermarkets throughout Japan, this is packed with dried seaweed, ebi (small shrimps) and other savoury, crispy bits. It’s also free of additives as indicated by the term “mutenka” (無添加) Sprinkle it over your rice or soba and you’ll empty your bowl in no time!
Sweet potato Kit Kat
To enjoy, open the wrapper, pop it into the microwave for a few seconds and eat it while it’s hot and oozing. It isn’t not our favourite kit kat flavour but it’s quite an interesting one to try.
Meiji Rich Matcha Ice Cream
This is the king of all green tea ice cream. Available at most supermarkets and convenience stores, the Meiji Rich Matcha Ice Cream has a crisp outershell and milky matcha ice cream within. You can really taste the slight bitter green tea flavour in this one – it’s not your usual diluted green milk bar.
Ikan bilis and almond mix
If you think dried ikan bilis is salty and bitter, then you got to try this. This fried ikan bilis snack has just the right balance of saltiness and sweetness, thanks to the light sugar glazing on the surface. Each fish is also very light and crispy in texture so you won’t be able to stop at one. The chopped almonds offers a nice mix of texture and crispiness, making this a crowd pleaser. Make sure to keep this well sealed as the snack will lose its luster once it turns soggy.
Cheese almond cracker
The first time we popped this snack into our mouth, we were bowled over by its amazing combination of sweet, salty and cheesy flavours. The almond and the round cracker provide a very nice crunch to this snack, making it very enjoyable indeed.
If you come across a food hall at the basement of a shopping mall, make sure to check it out. There’s normally a dazzling selection of food to be had at these food courts. From bento sets, sashimi and sushi sets and desserts, you can have your fill of your favourite Japanese food. You’ll also be surprised at how affordable the bento sets are. A satisfying bento consisting of tonkatsu, rice, pickles and a side of vegetables goes for around JPY500.