Japan is full of strange things. Even the Kit Kat, a fairly standard chocolate-covered wafer bar, has been embraced and transformed into many different weird and wonderful flavours. Armed with curiosity and a love of sweets, my friends and I decided to delve into this mini Kit Kat selection box. Here’s what we found.
Edit – Jun 2017: Over the past year, a good friend and I have both visited Japan and brought back/imported even more Kit Kats. I have updated the post accordingly.
The first bar that we tried. A typical fake apple flavour, similar to cheap, sweet apple cordial.
Hot Japanese Chilli
“I approve of this”
Nice chilli taste. Given that there are better quality chilli chocolate bars out there, however, not worth stocking up on.
Matcha Green Tea
“That one’s awesome.”
We’d had this one before, so it was a pre-existing favourite. A delicious combination of green tea and white chocolate flavours. I would definitely buy a gift pack of just these.
“Needs more wasabi.”
“Not as wasabi as it could have been.”
Given that wasabi is such a strong flavour, it’s disappointing that these Kit Kats taste so weakly of it. If you really want wasabi chocolate with a kick, then Lindt do a far superior bar.
Kyoto Matcha Green Tea
“I like that one.”
Yes, a second green tea Kit Kat – not entirely without merit, but not as good as the first. You might as well stick with the default green tea Kit Kat.
“You can taste the beaniness.”
“Not my favourite of beans.”
“Least favourite so far.”
“It has a certain nostalgia value.”
Personally, I’m not a fan of azuki bean, and this Kit Kat isn’t going to change that any time soon. It just tastes horrible. Even if you like azuki, I don’t think this Kit Kat is a reliable way to get the taste you crave.
“I don’t mind it, actually.”
“Could even get used to it.”
I have mixed feelings about fake strawberry, but now that I’m no longer a kid, most of those feelings fall on the ‘ew’ end of the spectrum. I think I could grow accustomed to this one with time, but why bother acquiring a taste for such a rare and dubious treat?
Hojicha Roasted Tea
“That’s slightly weird.”
“Kind of vegetal.”
“Bleurgh, I hate it.”
Unfortunately, we saved the worst until last. At the time of eating, we didn’t even know what Hojicha was, only that this Kit Kat was hideous, and that it should never be consumed again.
My tasting companions enjoyed this one, but I wasn’t so convinced. Not the most egregious of the fruit flavoured Kit Kats, but nothing to really recommend it either.
I had a couple more mini bars of this which I ate whilst craving sweet things at home, and I think I’m slowly getting sold on this one. Unlike the other fruit flavoured Kit Kats, it has actual freeze-dried fruit in rather than just fake flavouring – I’m not a particular fan of freeze-dried berries, but they work quite well here.
This alcoholic tasting Kit Kat was well received by all, and definitely entered the rankings as an immediate favourite. However, I kept a spare one for a few months after the initial tasting, by which point the packet had inflated somewhat. Assuming that the sake Kit Kat must have been fermenting with time, I had no choice but to dispose of it.
Purple Sweet Potato
Surprisingly tasty, this Kit Kat kickstarted my appreciation of purple sweet potato in dessert items. On the back of this, I bought a slice of purple sweet potato Swiss roll from the Japan Centre, and am keen to get my hands on some Ube spread.
“Tastes less matcha than normal.”
Smells of matcha, and leaves a matcha aftertaste, but definitely different from the plain matcha Kit Kats. I really enjoyed it, finding it sweet, delicious and slightly creamy.
“More chocolate than matcha.”
This Kit Kat does not contain any bear, but the packet does feature the cartoon character Kumamon. Unlike the other matcha Kit Kats, this one uses dark rather than white chocolate, which somewhat drowns out the matcha taste. The texture is also dry and brittle.
“Needs more lime.”
A citrus Kit Kat should be amazing, but sadly this one does not live up to its potential. When you open the packet, you discover that the bar itself is a peachy orange colour, which is a bit of a novelty. Unfortunately, it both smells and tastes like fake orange flavouring, with a hint of fake lemon – and no lime at all, despite all three fruits being pictured on the packaging. Not bad, but it could have been so much more.
Rum and Raisin
“It’s like if you put rum and raisin ice cream in a blender.”
“If you’re going to have alcoholic Kit Kats, then I vote for sake every time.”
As a rum and raisin aficionado, I was very much looking forward to tasting this one. And it isn’t too bad, it’s just that it’s ultimately an inferior version of the sake Kit Kat. There’s no real reason to ever hunt down this Kit Kat when the sake one will give you a much more satisfying alcoholic tang.
I love melon, and I also developed a taste for the Yubari melon steam cakes I brought back from Japan last autumn. That being said, I’m not sure I can quite get over the cognitive dissonance of the sweet watery taste of melon, and the texture of chocolate wafer bar. Definitely an acquired taste.
So apparently kinako is soy flour, which doesn’t immediately sound like the best of flavours for anything. We actually didn’t know that when we tried this Kit Kat, and were pleasantly surprised at how good it tasted. It has a rich, creamy flavour, but manages to avoid being too sweet. Definitely a good one to have with a cup of coffee.
Ginger chocolate is widely known for being amazing, and this Kit Kat does not disappoint. It would have been very difficult to go wrong with this flavour combination, so I’m pleased to say that this Kit Kat delivered on taste.
Cookies and Cream
Cookies and Cream is a common flavour combo (usually meaning Oreos are involved). The ones we sampled aren’t the ones now on sale in the UK, but of course another Japanese flavour. It’s very sweet and creamy, so despite its small size, the two finger bar can still feel like a bit much. Unless you have a really sweet tooth, there’s not much to recommend this one.
This one was a step up from the original strawberry Kit Kat. Instead of fake strawberry flavour, there appear to be actual freeze-dried strawberries in the wafer, which are far tastier. The cheesecake element is a rich sweetness that’s just shy of being too sickly – certainly of a kind with the aforementioned Cookies and Cream. In short, it’s better than the plain old strawberry Kit Kats, but still not amazing.
Everyday Luxury Cranberry & Almond
The Everyday Luxury sub-brand of Kit Kats claims to have been inspired by the Kit Kat Chocolatory in Tokyo. These are rare single finger bars of standard Kit Kat chocolate, topped with chopped almonds and cranberries.
All of the ingredients are pleasant, so it’s hard to dislike this one, but it’s equally difficult to feel any strong positive feelings about it either. There are better products out there combining chocolate with almonds or cranberries – in fact, why not just pick up some chocolate covered almonds and dried cranberries and eliminate the Kit Kat element altogether?
Everyday Luxury Matcha Double Berry & Almond
This one is very similar to the above, except that the base Kit Kat is matcha, and raspberries have been added to the “sprinkled on top” elements. My tasting companion felt that the added extras clashed with the base Kit Kat, and that a plain matcha Kit Kat would be superior to this overloaded product. I found that the matcha taste dominated and thus I was essentially ignoring the topping. Certainly neither of us could detect the added raspberries.
BONUS – MIDDLE EASTERN KITKATS
When we started the Kit Kat sampling quest in late 2015, we thought Japan was the only place selling such a variety of crazy flavours. But a recent Middle Eastern trip by one of my co-tasters landed us with two new flavours from Kit Kat Arabia.
Unlike the Japanese two-finger bars, these packs come with a non-standard five fingers. The packs are marked as ‘recloseable’ (which seems to mean that you are welcome to use the glue originally sealing the packs to reseal them), which is just well as scoffing all five fingers would count towards 10% of your daily recommended calories.
If you look at the picture on the packaging, you’d be forgiven for thinking that around a third of the thickness of each finger is going to be due to a thick coconut cream running through the centre. The reality is somewhat different. Whilst the coconut flavour is indeed distinct, it appears to just be spread in a very thin layer between the wafers. Still, it does taste good, and is a different flavour from anything in the Japanese selection.
Again, this isn’t as special as it looks on the packaging, although at least there is a respectable layer of filling between the wafers. Said filling is essentially indistinguishable from Nutella, and whilst it’s nigh impossible to go wrong by adding Nutella to a sweet treat, it does mean you’re essentially better of just eating a Ferrero Rocher. Why bother with the trappings of a Kit Kat as a vector for Nutella?
Over at Kotaku, Mike Fahey tried a whopping 15 different Japanese Kit Kats!
Or why not have a read of Jen Ken’s Kit Kat blog?