On my first trip to Japan more than two decades ago, I felt disoriented and conspicuous in my six-foot-three-inch frame. I also felt graciously welcomed, and I ate better than I had at any point in my life. I came home craving the flavors of street teriyaki, udon noodles and shabu-shabu. Today, American cities have ramen places in most neighborhoods, but it can still be hard to find any variety of Japanese snacks. That’s where TokyoTreat steps in.
The subscription service delivers a box of 15-20 uniquely Japanese snacks and desserts each month. I received the Premium-level December box with the “Christmas in Japan” theme. Here’s what it included:
Premium Umaibo Mozzarella & Cambembert Cheese Flavor: One of my favorites in the box, this single puffed cracker stick is a delicious mix of cheese and herb flavors, heavy on the garlic, onion and salt with a tasty cheesy base. Like a fancier and much-better-tasting giant Funyun. A+
Chibeans: Chibeans look like miniature green pool noodles but taste salty with a hint of wasabi, like something you’d get in a mix of bar nuts. The consistency is like a denser funion with a hint of the same onion and garlic. The small sample bag went way too quickly. A
Christmas New Mochi Taro: This little bag of crunchy nuggets delivers a tasty, salty snack made of arare (glutinous rice crackers with soy sauce). B+
Sankaku Vegetable Crackers: A little plastic tray of tiny triangular seasoned crackers—with none of the green flecks promised on the wrapper. The crackers themselves have a nice buttery feel like a Club Cracker, and the flavor is subtle and slightly unfamiliar. B-
Aji Cheese: There’s only a hint of cheese flavor in these concave chips that have the texture of rice cakes and the flavor of a bag of Bugles. Definitely the blandest treat in the box. D
Caramel Corn White Milk: Featuring a corn kernel in a Santa Hat on its packaging, Tohato Caramel Corn is less like flavored popcorn and more like if a miniature Cheeto puff was flavored with a mix of cotton candy and caramel, and I must have more. It’s dangerous to get addicted to foods that aren’t readily available 6,856 miles from Tokyo. A+
Calbee Luxury Chocolate Potato Chips: This is just as it sounds—ridged potato chips drizzled with milk chocolate. Salty and sweet, it works just fine and makes me wonder why Lay’s or Pringles hasn’t introduced American consumers to this idea before now. A
Pandora Cookie Melon This sugar cookie has a lovely subtle cantaloupe flavor that makes it unique from American holiday treats. And it’s shaped like an adorable panda. A
Christmas Umaibo Chocolate: A crispy corn puff coated in chocolate, it reminds me of a Twix bar sans caramel and was gone in two seconds. A
KitKat Milk Tea: Coated in white chocolate with a subtle earthy chai flavor, the crispy interior is the same as the KitKat we all know and love. An interesting twist on a global favorite. A-
Calpis Strawberries & Cream: This creamy strawberry drink from Asahi brand Calpis is intensely sweet, but still went down pretty easy thanks to the combination of flavors meant to evoke a traditional Japanese Christmas cake. B
Choco Waffle Kun: This crispy waffle cookie coated in chocolate is Japanese breakfast turned into dessert. Nothing special here. C+
Cola Foam: These candy tablets fizz in your mouth, delivering a sharp sweet and tart jolt on your tongue. It’s flavored with the popular Japanese Cola Ramune soda. I didn’t love the experience, but it was certainly unique having the tablets foam in your mouth. C
Cocoa Bolo: These small, crunchy puffs of cocoa aren’t nearly as cloyingly sweet as the Pokemon Christmas snacks, but I don’t love the strange aftertaste. C-
Pokemon Christmas Party Snacks: My package features Froakie, wearing a Santa hat on one of his extended eyes, which seems a little awkward. Inside are chocolate cookie puffs that vaguely resemble the shape of Pikachu’s head. They’re extremely sweet but pack a pretty strong cocoa punch. The consistency is similar to Cocoa Puffs but a flavor more like Cocoa Pepples if you added a spoonful of sugar to your already sweet cereal. D
Christmas Fugashi: This traditional Japanese treat is a light brown sugar puff, but it was too sweet for me and the only treat in the box I besides the Cola Foam I couldn’t finish. D
Overall, I enjoyed the savory snacks much more than the desserts. But as much as I enjoyed the food, what I most enjoyed was just the experience of not knowing what to expect in each package. Each box comes with a guide to what you’re eating, if you don’t like surprises. Either way, the TokyoTreat box is a fun way to snack.
Josh Jackson is Paste’s co-founder and editor-in-chief. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshJackson.