Snacktime: Umaiwa Mentai Flavor

Ah what a difference a little research makes. When I opened the Tokyo Treat Box there were very few things I could identify. A lot of what I picked up was from the photographs. No matter what the language, a cartoon strawberry pretty much looks like a cartoon strawberry. There was one package that drew my attention though. I thought it looked like a picture of tomatoes and basil.

Oh my darlings, was I wrong.

Today I couldn’t resist opening the Umaiwa Mentai Flavor bag of crispy treats. Apparently Umaiwa means delicious ring, at least from what I could find out on line. If I have that wrong, someone please post a comment correcting me. It turns out those were definitely not tomatoes. I found the same bag in my Tokyo Treat Box offered for sale for $7 here. It’s description read…

Umaiwa is a famous crunchy ring-shaped snack from Japan, from the makers of Umaibo. This Mentai flavor will definitely surprise you with the taste of mentaiko, or spiced pollock roe, one of Japan’s most traditional food.

So yeah, definitely not tomatoes.

It sounds a bit more like botarga to me. And I do like botarga. I just never thought of it in terms of snack food.

The rings have the same consistency as cheese puffs. And they have a similar orange coloring too actually, maybe with a bit more red mixed in. Part of my brain wanted to say faux cheese flavor and another part of my brain thought, that’s going to be spicy.

It was neither. It was crispy and crunchy and slightly sweet and slightly salty with a touch of smoky heat on the back end of the flavor. I absolutely loved them. There is something about them that is absolutely addictive. It is also not as salty as botarga. I think if it was then I would be able to eat as many.

I’m sure they over step my usual calorie allotment for snacks, but I had a salad lunch and will be having a slice of quiche for dinner so I’m okay bending the calories a little. I have no idea what the calorie count is since I could find no translation of it, and probably don’t want to. This bag was the perfect snack size and even though a part of me wanted more because they were absolutely yummy, I know this was all I needed.

I’ve never had mentaiko before and as this is clearly a processed snack food, I might not have actually tried it now, but I really enjoyed the flavor of this and because of that I will be looking out for mentaiko in the future. Perhaps I will like it as much, perhaps I won’t, but I do know that before this snack I didn’t know it existed and now, I want to try it. And if I can use my snack food to drive off hunger cravings, try something new and but an entirely new to be food on my culinary radar, I am pretty happy. Over all, that makes this a very successful snacktime.