Kaiju Kuisine

  • Shin Godzilla: Battle at Nagaragawa White Water Manjuu vs. Black Steamed Chestnut Youkan

    Here is a Godzilla snack I can get behind. Like a good-natured fan-fiction, it imagines what would happen if the second form of Godzilla from Godzilla Resurgence (2016) faced off against the Mothra larva. I think of it as the Godzilla larva vs. the Mothra larva. How fun is that? The actual snacks, too, are traditional Japanese snacks, which, if alien to the Western palate, still seems appropriate for a Japanese monster themed snack.

    The image (which seems to be by the same artist who did the packaging art for the Takoyaki snack and the Shin Godzilla Crunch) shows a cheerful and very cute version of Kamata-Kun getting ambushed by the Mothra larva, who has latched onto the former’s long tail. Kamata-Kun looks shocked—actually, he looks like he has a little crown floating above his head, but I think that is actually supposed to be a symbolic representation of Kamata-Kun’s emotional response. The city nearby also seems to be celebrating the match with fireworks. Actually, Nagaragawa in Gifu (the place of origin of Coms) is the site of a huge famous fireworks festival each year in August with hundreds of thousands of attendees each year. In the background we can see the Gifu Castle, and in the foreground an overturned boat and several birds. A burning torch can also be seen in the water near the boat. I am pretty sure these must be cormorants from the cormorant fishing festival, which also takes place throughout summer in the same area, and which features fireworks and fire lanterns. There is some text in Japanese in the corner that states, “With a bite from the Mothra Larva, the curtain is opened on a decisive battle!” And, just like with the War of Takoyaki packaging, we also see in very small text that this battle is just fiction. Which again begs the question… would anyone think this was a true story?!

    How about the snacks? Well, Kamata-Kun gets a water manjuu with anko paste inside (the cute packaging showing his grinning maw), and Mothra gets a steamed chestnut shoukan. Now a manjuu, according to my dictionary, is a “steamed yeast bun with filling,” and a youkan is a “jellied dessert made from red bean paste, agar, and sugar.” The packaging says that the manjuu and the youkan taste better chilled in the refrigerator, so I dutifully did so before consuming. These Japanese snacks are a little trickier to consume than some of the previous snacks I ate. The manjuu is sticky and slimy and the youkan is also a bit squishy and gross-looking. However, neither tastes bad. The manjuu slides down the throat easily (sorry, gross imagery) and is mildly sweet with a little punch of red bean, and the youkan of course has a stronger red bean taste with a steamed chestnut inside which makes it quite pleasant. I like red beans, and I like chestnuts, so for me, the youkan (and thus Mothra) wins the fight.

    This monster snack doesn’t feature any extras in the box unfortunately, but at least in this case it doesn’t feel like there is an obnoxious ploy to get fans to buy multiple boxes. There is also just something nice here in that Coms is celebrating their home city, with art that references popular places and events that take place there. And, as I said before, it is just appropriate to see Japanese snacks this time, since many of the Kaiju Kuisine I have Konsumed tend to be Western snacks. Recommended for the adventurous kaiju gourmet.

    Love that box art!
    Love that box art!

    Cute, individually-wrapped goodness
    Cute, individually-wrapped goodness

    Kamata-Kun's slimy water manjuu
    Kamata-Kun’s slimy water manjuu

    Mothra's tasty youkan
    Mothra’s tasty youkan

    Kaiju Kuisine // December 14, 2019
  • Earlier this year I happened to go to the Shinjuku Godzilla Store near the time in which Godzilla King of the Monsters was in theaters, and I was thrilled to find—in addition to the Godzilla Store itself—a limited time special store had been put up specifically for the release of the aforementioned MonsterVerse film. While I was not wild about KOTM (much the opposite), it was still really fun to see the wide variety of goods that were for sale at the time—and I was able to pick up a wide variety of Godzilla-themed snacks. Oddly, at that time, the only snacks I found that were themed around the Godzilla King of the Monsters film at the store were these—the Godzilla King of the Monsters Choco in Sables, from Coms (again). Let’s take a look.

    The packaging this time I think is a bit less interesting than in the past—though maybe I am just a sucker for the cuter art on Coms other recent Godzilla goodies. Here we have cartoonish, but much more serious renditions of Godzilla (compared to the illustrations on the Coms snacks), King Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan from the film. And while the art generally stays faithful to the film versions of those monsters, KG looks a bit different, being more obviously gold instead of the sort of boring brown from the movie. Rodan also looks a bit different, with more prominent claws and smaller wings. With each box, you also get one bromide of four randomly included in the box (of course). The one I got was of King Ghidorah. I actually like how he looks on the card more than how he turned out in the movie!

    What about the sables? And what is a sable, anyway? I had to look it up. Apparently it’s a kind of buttery shortbread cookie/biscuit from France. The Godzilla choco in sables reminded me of Nilla wafers with a bit of chocolate cream in them. I tried one, and it was alright—definitely buttery and sweet, but not too sweet. The chocolate didn’t add much, and the overall affair was a bit overly dry, though that may be because I munched mine after the best-if-eaten-by date had passed.

    And that’s about it. Only one kind of cookie inside, and you only get eight of them and a big picture of a random monster. A little underwhelming if you ask me, at least in comparison to some of the other recent Godzilla yummies I have tried. I’d give this one a pass.

    The front of the box!
    The front of the box!

    The back of the box! Or did I get it backwards?
    The back of the box! Or did I get it backwards?

    Snack packaging--hungry yet?
    Snack packaging–hungry yet?

    Mmm... dry and with cheap chocolate in the middle. Delish.
    Mmm… dry and with cheap chocolate in the middle. Delish.

    KG looks much better when he is all gold.
    KG looks much better when he is all gold.

    Kaiju Kuisine // December 1, 2019
  • Shin Godzilla Crunch: Black Crunch vs. White Crunch Snack Review

    Along with the amazingly named Shin Godzilla: War of the Takoyaki crackers, snack company Coms also released the Shin Godzilla Crunch: Black Crunch vs. White Crunch. With incredibly cute art of Kamata-Kun appearing in Osaka, and a snack not dissimilar to the excellent Godzilla Ole Crunch Collection, we have another winner on our hands here—plus, another cute Godzilla diorama is included with the box!

    Wait. Did I say a diorama was included WITH the box? I meant to say the diorama IS the box!

    But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As usual, let’s start with a brief description of the packaging. Kamata-Kun (or Godzilla Second Form if you must), the startling ugh-dorable proto-Godzilla that appears in Godzilla Resurgence (2016), here appears in Osaka, splashing and having a great time, as we can see from his huge happy face! In the background, replacing the famous Glico running man, we see Jet Jaguar standing tall (a clever visual that was also featured in the recent Godzilla vs. Evangelion movie over at Universal Studios Japan), as well as a huge picture showing Godzilla Fourth Form shooting a purple ray. Now I am not really sure where the white vs. black comes in on the cover image, or why the events are taking place in Osaka (the image on the War of the Takoyaki box also takes place in Osaka, right in front of the Osaka Castle). The Coms company is stationed in Gifu, so no connection there. These snacks were not Universal Studios Japan exclusives either, so I don’t know what the deal is.

    Anyway, if you open the box, you will find eight of the titular crunches inside—four whites, four blacks. Pretty stingy if you ask me. Still, the crunches themselves are quite delicious. They are basically the same sort of thing as the Godzilla Ole Collection, though perhaps a little bit larger, and without the connection to Mt. Mihara. They are very crunchy, with the chocolate tasting a bit like dark chocolate, and the white one tasting sweeter. They are both really good.

    As mentioned earlier, the box doubles as a diorama. The black box has the background of the image on the cover (of Kamata-Kun playing in the famous Osaka river) emblazoned inside. You can use the box as a diorama with plastic Kamata-Kun cut-out included with the box—again, much like with the War of the Takoyaki crackers set, which featured Godzilla Fourth Form instead (although with that diorama, the background was separate from the box and came with a stand). Since the box doubles as a stand, it’s much sturdier than the War of the Takoyaki one (which tends to fold over with the force of gravity over time if you display it, as I have, on my DVD shelf). One added bonus is that if you have both, you can switch the plastic monsters and their backgrounds… though since Kamata-Kun is splashing, it looks a little weird to have him in front of Osaka Castle like that. I guess you could say he is in the moat.

    At any rate, we have a first-rate Godzilla snack and a frivolous but fun diorama that comes with. Just eight pieces of candy seems like a paltry amount, but still, for Godzilla fans, this is a nice munch!

    Kaiju Kuisine // November 29, 2019
  • Apparently there was an entire line-up of Mt. Mihara sweets made this year. In addition to the Godzilla Honey Pie,  the Godzilla Crunch Ole Collection, and the Izu Oshima Godzilla Curry, we also have the Godzilla Bar Cheese Cookie from the same company, which takes some of the same design aspects of the previous two snacks and creates something new and frankly delicious.

    As always, let’s start with the packaging. The box is fairly unique, with a solid base which is actually basically a lid, and an upper section folded together that tapers a little towards the top. The entire shape is supposed to mimic the shape of a volcano (presumably Mt. Mihara), and illustrated red lava flows down across the box lid, matching up with an illustration of an erupting volcano on the side and top. In addition, we get two images of Godzilla—one of Godzilla emerging from Mt. Mihara (which was also featured on the Crunch Collection and curry boxes), and one close-up of his leering visage. Another side to the box feels like a tourism advertisement, featuring a beautiful shot of Mt. Mihara, a close-up of a camellia blossom common to the area, and a shot of hardened lava. One side also lays out the history of Godzilla films (praising the original film to high heaven) and recounting Godzilla’s fraught relationship with Mt. Mihara, before declaring that the cheese cookie was made to create an image of the scene of Godzilla’s resurrection from the mountain. Presumably what recreates the scene is the box, and since each of the cheese cookies bears Godzilla’s image, maybe they symbolize the Big G coming out of the mountain… before getting eaten by you.

    I love how the package also unfolds once you open it, spreading out neatly into a serving plate (and perhaps mimicking a really intense volcanic explosion).

    That face doesn’t enhance my appetite.
    That face doesn’t enhance my appetite.

    The treats (ten in each box) are individually wrapped, and the wrappers each feature the freaky face from the side of the box. This frankly rather creepy shot of Godzilla’s evil smile is honestly off-putting, but don’t let it dissuade you from opening the snack. The cheese cookies are quite delicious, with a wonderful sweet cheese flavor akin to cheesecake. Though I will say, they are a little bit dry, so a nice tall glass of water or milk is recommended to go with them.

    Honestly, I have been a fan of all the Izu Oshima Godzilla snacks so far. The Honey Pie was quite tasty, the Crunch Collection is among my favorite Godzilla sweets of all time, the curry was actually quite good, and I quite enjoyed the cheese cookies, too. As far as I am concerned, the Mt. Mihara series of Godzilla yummies is a real winner as far as licensed monster snacks go. A small hurdle to be sure, but the Mihara series clears it with aplomb.

    Box art, Godzilla sides. The kaiju King is pleased you bought his product.
    Box art, Godzilla sides. The kaiju King is pleased you bought his product.

    Box art, volcano side. Come visit a volcano!
    Box art, volcano side. Come visit a volcano!

    A cheese cookie, awaiting its doom in my stomach.
    A cheese cookie, awaiting its doom in my stomach.

    Kaiju Kuisine // November 24, 2019
  • It’s been a long time since I wrote a review for a Godzilla curry—the last one was way back in 2016 with my review of the Yokosuka Godzilla Curry. Well, time keeps right on marching along, and along with the Godzilla Crunch Ole Collection, we now have a new curry from Izu Oshima—the Izu Oshima Godzilla Curry! And I have to say, as far as it goes, this one is much better than the Yokosuka Godzilla Curry. I would totally eat this one again.

    Starting with the box art, we have what appears to be the same image used in the Godzilla Crunch Ole Collection of Godzilla rising from Mt. Mihara, smoke belching out behind him, fire punching out of his mouth (this time to cook the curry). Text on the side in yellow declares “Godzilla has resurrected from Izu’s Mt. Mihara in Tokyo!” And in red on the left side in a fireball we have “Limited Time Only!” and “Sweetness and spiciness punches you in the chest!” (I hope that doesn’t mean I am going to get heartburn…) The back also has some text boasting that their curry doesn’t use normal togarashi spice, but rather extra spicy island togarashi spice, and that the recipe also includes salt birthed from the seawater off the coast of the islands in the Oshima area (I think).

    And, I mean, it does taste good! I had my curry with some peanuts, but even alone the spiciness and flavor is pretty great. This is a delicious Godzilla curry with a really good balance of punchy spice and a touch of mild sweetness that had my tastebuds a-singing. On the other hand, the meat included in the pouch was of low quality (of course) and was a bit too fatty for my tastes, but I would still happily eat another batch of Izu Oshima Godzilla Curry… which is more than I can say for the Yokosuka one.

    If you like somewhat spicy curries with decent flavor, and you like Godzilla, this seems like an easy choice for fans. Of course most fans in the west are probably going to have a tough time finding curry packs like this, but if you do, I can recommend trying out this one. It won’t have you spitting fire, but for me that’s a good thing!

    The box art, featuring an angry Godzilla cooking up fresh curry goodness just for you!
    The box art, featuring an angry Godzilla cooking up fresh curry goodness just for you!

    Kaiju Kuisine // November 22, 2019
  • This… might be the best named Godzilla snack of all time.

    The Shin Godzilla: War of the Takoyaki senbei cracker snack from Coms is one of the most hilariously packaged Godzilla snacks I have encountered yet. The image on the package is yet another shot of the now-classic Godzilla 2016 posing with claws outstretched and curving upwards… but this time rendered in an adorable shiny chibi style. This Godzilla is standing in front Osaka Castle (perhaps on one of his trips to Universal Studios Japan?) and is assaulting a bowl of Takoyaki with purple mouth lightning, and zapping eight more airborne Takoyaki treats with his back-blasts. It seems the people of Osaka are bombing the Big G with treats! In the corner reads the text: Takoyaki vs. Godzilla. At the bottom, perhaps most delightfully of all, is the following: “Can the Takoyaki which has been smashed flat into senbei crackers triumph over Godzilla?”

    Then next to that imaginative sentence we have “This story is fiction.” I am not sure if that disclaimer is a means to declare this epic duel to be a non-canonical Godzilla story, or just a way to assure customers that the crackers do not actually include real Godzilla toe-jam as an ingredient.

    As for the crackers themselves, for senbei crackers, they are pretty small, but reasonably tasty, and they definitely have the Takoyaki flavor, with a strong ginger tang. Normal senbei crackers are often much bigger, sometimes round, sometimes rectangular, but these ones are smaller… probably to mimic the size of real Takoyaki, and create the illusion that Godzilla really did smash them flat. And as I said, they are good if you like Takoyaki and crackers, but they aren’t good enough to go wild over. I basically ate a couple then put them aside and they went bad really fast.

    As an added bonus, the box also comes with a little diorama of the image on the box that features Godzilla attacking the Takoyaki. The diorama is composed of a little stand, a plastic PET Godzilla, and a background card of Osaka Castle. It’s small, but terribly fun, and a great way to get extra value out of your treats after the food is gone. Folding the stand for the background card and getting it just right so that it will stand is a bit tricky, and even after you get the castle an Godzilla posed, they basically are barely balanced and can fall any moment. Still, the resulting diorama looks cool (to my eyes), and I hope to find a place for it on my work desk.

    While the snack itself is not the most mouth-watering I have tried (I prefer the Godzilla Arare Crackers for sheer flavor), this is by no means an inferior G-snack, and the wonderfully quirky box art and included diorama really put this one over the top for me. If you love the silly side of Godzilla products (like I do), the Shin Godzilla: War of the Takoyaki senbei crackers is a no-brainer.


    Shin Godzilla has never looked cuter than when he attacks takoyaki


    The crackers


    Pollyzilla wanna cracker?


    Diorama perilously balanced, but looking cool

    Kaiju Kuisine // November 10, 2019
  • Here is one of my favorite Godzilla sweets so far. The Godzilla Crunch Ole Collection is really delicious. I love the crunch flavor, and the design is also on the fun referential side as well, with packaging that isn’t just your usual Shin Godzilla-holding-food design. Let’s jump right in (to the volcano, so to speak).

    The gimmick of this product is in reference to Izu Oshima island and Mt. Mihara—the volcano into which Godzilla plummeted in The Return of Godzilla (1984) and from whence he then emerged in Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989). The image on the cover references Godzilla’s dramatic rebirth from Mt. Mihara with smoke and fire billowing up all around him, and cartoon renditions of the enclosed snack flying up through the air. Text on the box states “Tokyo Island Izu Oshima. From Mt. Mihara’s erupting volcanic maw appears Godzilla!” I love the giant gout of flame bursting from Godzilla’s mouth as well.

    Inside each box are twelve snacks, and each snack is made to look like Mt. Mihara, with frosting for snow on top, and the rocky mountainside recreated with a crunchy rice dipped and shaped in a chocolate mixture ala a Nestle Crunch bar. There are three flavors—white chocolate, strawberry, and milk (which is basically just milk chocolate with frosting). They are the perfect size for a satisfying crunch, and all three are delicious—though I am particularly fond of the milk chocolate one. I shared a couple boxes of this treat with one of the classes I teach here in Japan, and my students enthusiastically ate them up—favoring the strawberry and milk flavors. I had a bunch of whites left over, but I actually liked the white choco more than the strawberry.

    Really, if you are a fan of crunchy sweet treats, the Godzilla Crunch Ole Collection is a great choice. Unlike some of the Godzilla snacks I’ve purchased, I didn’t have to choke this one down, and it’s also a great snack to share with others. It’s big enough to satisfy, and the Mt. Mihara theme is well-done and nerdy enough for the fans to eat up (in fact, apparently the makers of this sweet are from Oshima, which is even better). Highly recommended.


    We three volcanoes—maybe strawberry is about to erupt?


    My favorite, milk chocolate


    The bombastic box art

    Kaiju Kuisine // November 2, 2019
  • Since I started reviewing Kaiju Kuisine, I have consumed a wide variety of ramen-themed monster-snacks and reviewed them here—from Baby Star Dodekai Ramen snacks, to the Godzilla Butamen cup (probably my favorite of all), to the Godzilla vs. Evangelion Box: Garlic Ramen and Spicy Chicken Flavor (second favorite, and most fun due to the play factor). Today I want to review a new release, simply called Godzilla Ramen, created by Hachiroumen and sold Surou Kaabu, with assistance from a company called… river pond (no capitals). Flavor-wise it’s probably the worst, but the gimmick is still clever.

    As usual, let’s start with the packaging. We see the now very familiar image of Godzilla from Godzilla Resurgence (2016) looking scary and depicted in all black and red, with the name of the product and a bowl of ramen floating above his claw. The back includes instructions for how to cook the ramen, and the side announces that the box contains one of three rubber Godzilla foot chopstick rests (randomly inserted to prompt collectors to buy more I am sure). The feet styles they chose seem to be the 2016 Godzilla, the 1954 Godzilla, and the ever-popular Heisei/VS. series Godzilla. I got the 2016 one.

    Inside we have two packages of pink noodles, and two packages of soy sauce-flavored soup. This is the really clever part. When you cook up the noodles and douse them in the black soup, the resulting ramen concoction looks like creepy pink flesh/veins immersed in a jet-black background that fits the raw, fleshy, charcoal-scorched 2016 design really well. I love the effect.

    I didn’t love the taste, though. Granted I didn’t get around to eating my first batch of Godzilla Ramen until after the “best eaten-by” date had expired, and I probably should have cooked them a tad longer for maximum yum, but still the noodles had a nasty tang that lingers in the mouth. I just kind of had an unpleasant experience with the stuff to be honest.

    Still, the novelty of eating a soup designed to mimic the flesh-tones of a horrific monster should be enough to get some fans excited, and instant ramen is not really known for its excellence in the taste department (or maybe I am just spoiled by real ramen restaurants in Japan). Nevertheless, unless you’re desperate for some monster noodles, I would pass on this one.


    Scary red generic box art.

     


    Box contents with the rubber chopstick holder

     


    The noodles look like ground pork.

     


    The three foot designs

    Kaiju Kuisine // October 12, 2019
  • Tokusatsu no DNA: From Godzilla to Godzilla Resurgence Cola Flavor Drops

    This is another one of those Godzilla-related snacks that I can’t help but kind of puzzle over a little bit. I picked it up at the Tokusatsu no DNA exhibit back in January (along with the Godzilla Honey Pie and a few other things), and I just have to kind of wonder: Why cola? At least with, say, the arare crackers we have a snack that originates from Japan. At least with the Godzilla curries, we have something spicy that sort of goes along well with Godzilla’s nuclear breath (and, as I love to mention over and again, curry was the source of Godzilla’s fiery breath back in the Japanese version of the Godzilla Game Boy game). At least with pies you can say it’s part of the omiyage/souvenir culture. But cola drops, along with fruit-flavored chocolate bars and chocolate wafers, really puzzles me.

    Not saying they are bad. Just puzzling. (Turns out the chocolate wafers sold with collectible cards are pretty common.)

    As usual, let’s start with the packaging. Here we have a metal rectangular can (the same style as the candy fruit drops can you may recall from Ghibli’s Grave of the Fireflies), this time with images of Godzilla Resurgence on the outside. On one side we have the much-overused leering Shin Godzilla with his hands curled and his nasty ribcage and so on, while on the other side we get an extreme close-up of Kamata Kun’s face.

    Alright, sure, if you think those images are appetizing, I don’t really agree, but sure.

    The worst part of the packaging is the circular lid on top which fits into a hole to close the can up. The problem is that it’s hard to open—the sort of lid that is liable to break your fingernails if you aren’t careful. When I was sharing the drops with friends back home, I really struggled with that lid, and even after bringing the blasted thing back to Japan with me, I try to be careful when I replace the lid lest I push too hard and make it into the Excalibur of candy dispenser lids.

    But okay, what about the candy? My friends and I agreed: It’s good. I am not much for cola candies (though over the last few years my fondness of Coca-Cola has unfortunately grown), and I rarely eat hard candies of any kind, but these have a solid flavor which makes the entire process of melting the thing down on my tongue a taste-tacular experience. When I pop one into my mouth, it kind of reminds me of pop rocks, except much milder. This may be just my imagination, but the candy, for me, does have a sort of effervescent taste which adds to the experience.

    The Godzilla cola drops are a fine diversion for fans of the giant monster, and yet another rather successful confection from Sawarabi STK (which also made things like the Print Cookies and the Godzilla Pie). While I don’t think this one is going to be available all over given that it was an exhibit exclusive, if you can get your mitts on it, it’s genuinely tasty. Good times.

    Godzilla Cola Flavor Drops

    Kaiju Kuisine // August 12, 2019
  • When I visited the Tokusatsu no DNA exhibit in Tokyo in January, I was happy to find a few more Godzilla snacks about which I could write reviews. The biggest package I picked up was the Godzilla Honey Pie. Let’s have our usual rundown!

    The package for this one, as with many Godzilla snacks, is pretty memorable. This time we have Godzilla from The Return of Godzilla (1984) prominently featured in the background, with the English text “Godzilla revives in Oshima Miharayama” (referring to the volcano into which the Big G plunged in that film), plus in romanized Japanese “makka ni utsukushiku sakihokoru izuoshima no Tsubaki ni miserarete godzilla ga miharayama kara fukkatsu!” If I am reading it right, the text roughly translates to something like “Godzilla, having been able to gaze upon the full beauty of the blossoming red camellias, revived from Mt. Mihara”—thus implying that the radioactive beastie was getting power from the flowers themselves. Given that the movie in which Godzilla is revived from Mihara was Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), the flower theme seems at least somewhat appropriate!

    Actually, upon inspecting the back of the box, I found out that the pies were apparently made from ingredients sourced from Oshima, where Mt. Mihara resides, so these are real Oshima Godzilla pies—maybe the monster was snacking on them while he rested in the volcano.

    What about those snacks and their flavor? Well, the box comes with 24 individually wrapped honey pies, all of them sporting the same glowering Godzilla visage. The word “pie” in this case refers to the same sort of “pie” that was sold in the Godzilla Pie box I reviewed a few years ago. This time, though, the pies are not black, but are rather white with honey flavoring. I actually really like them, as the flavor is pleasantly sweet, but the pie itself is not overly dry and tastes really nice with a flaky and enjoyable texture. The pies do fall apart easily, though, and are rather messy.

    Twenty-four pies is a bit much for me, so I shared the snacks with my friends on a recent visit to the USA, and they went over reasonably well. If you have a chance, I think these pies are worth a munch—much more so than some of the Godzilla-themed garbage I have eaten!

    Godzilla Honey Pie Review

    Kaiju Kuisine // July 19, 2019