Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The review that wasn't: Tropicana Orange with Rare Cheese Flavor

Hey guys! In the latter half of February, Pillow and I were journeying around Japan, which included going out to Kyoto/Osaka and back to Tokyo before returning to Yokosuka. I was pretty determined to do a special On Location "episode" of Are Ya Thirsty?, but as it turns out, the universe did not want me to do that. Allow me to explain...

In Osaka, we met up with our awesome friend John and hung out in Ame-mura and Den-den Town, strolling the streets and seeing the sights, as it were.

I was on the look-out for a superb soda (or a sucktacular one) to review, and was coming up rather empty handed (c'mon, Japan! Why am I suddenly at a loss here?!) until we saw it.



That's right. Your eyes did not deceive you. It says:

Tropicana Orange with Rare Cheese Flavor

Upon seeing this, we all instantly recoiled, as something about the very phrasing alerted our lizard brains to the horror. Eeeeugh! CHEESE FLAVOR? In a BEVERAGE!? That has got to be the worst thing ever, right? And "rare" cheese, at that?

Our mutual reaction was enough to make me pull out 150 yen and plunk it into the machine. As I reached for it, we placed fake bets on whether or not you were going to have to shake it — there's a handful of soft drinks in Japan that are not unlike jelly and have to be shaken up in order to be ingested — and the very idea of that made my stomach curdle. What would the consistency be like?? A yogurt drink?? Fruit on the bottom, cheese on top? Hugggghh, unappetizing! As it turns out, John inspected the bottle and informed us that no, we were NOT to shake it. Alright, then.

We'd planned to sit down somewhere and share the horror, but as the night progressed, we kinda forgot about it. Maybe that was on purpose, maybe it was just 'cause we were busy being big nerds and looking at robot toys. In any case, by the time we parted ways, we'd realized we hadn't partaken in and orange and rare cheese flavor, so we planned to do it the next day, when we'd be meeting up again.

And then I forgot to bring it.

Upon returning from our dinner with John and his ladyfriend and our subsequent outting through Gion at night (which was very lovely and almost deserted...!), Pillow and I resolved to try it.

And then forgot.

The next morning, we had to get up and check out of the hotel, and because that 11 AM check out time always seems to come SO SOON, we were scrambling to get out on time. We were certain we'd remembered everything, having done a thorough sweep of the grounds before turning in our legit metal key (!!) and leaving to wander until our train time. Afterwards, we returned to the hotel to pick up our luggage that they'd kindly held for us, and headed to the train station to ride the shinkansen back to Tokyo.

Ten minutes into our ride, I realized something:

We'd left the bottle of Orange and Rare Cheese in the fridge!!


So, there you have it. Is it possible that it was just such an abhorrent flavor combination that I couldn't even bring myself to try it? Sure. But I like to believe that The Universe decided that it should not be ingested by my friends, family, or myself, and caused me to forget to remember to try Orange and Rare Cheese.

It gets an F for existing. But I would have tried it for your entertainment pleasure. Really.

Love ya,

Monday, February 14, 2011

Calpis Creamy Chocolate

Happy Valentine's Day, ladies and gents! Whether you love it or you hate it, today is a day singled out for the expression of love, and mostly romantic love, at that. In Japan, women give men chocolate and gifts on Valentine's Day, and it's reciprocated on March 14th, or "White Day."

But of course! What better way to say "I love you" than chocolate?

How about...

Calpis Creamy Chocolate!


Well, actually, how about no.

But we'll get to that.

First of all, I feel like most of us think of brown when we think of chocolate? White chocolate, after all, isn't even REAL chocolate, since it's missing those essential cocoa solids. So the fact that "Creamy Chocolate" looks like this:

Too bad this is a family oriented blog, or I'd tell you what I think this looks like. disheartening. And we should actually take a minute now and talk about Calpis so you can understand why. A popular drink in Japan, Wikipedia offers "its ingredients include water, nonfat dry milk and lactic acid, and is produced by lactic acid fermentation." So it's a bit like yogurt, but either way, it's a dairy drink, so a mixed with chocolate, it could be good!

And it sure does have an unappealing name, huh? According to Quirky Japan, "the 'real story' is that Calpis is a compound of "Cal", short for calcium, (because milk is one of the main ingredients) and pis, short for 'sarupisu', a word describing one of the "five tastes" in Buddhism. It was chosen by the company's president, Kaiun Mishima, a music professor, and a Sanskrit expert. Apparently, 'pisu' was chosen over the 'piru' of 'sarupirumanda, the best of Buddhism's five tastes, because the music professor thought it sounded better."

So, with that out of the way, back to the beverage at hand and answer an important question: does it smell like chocolate?

Smells peculiar...

Nope. Not hardly. At least, not any chocolate I've ever had, in Japan or otherwise.

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, Pillow has agreed to help out! Since, after all, what is a loved one for, if to sample potentially awful soft drinks with you?

Smells awful!

Surprise! He didn't like it.

Well, now for the taste test...

Do I have to?



I am so unwilling to do this.


So... um... well... huh.

That... is a flavor

That's, uh, a flavor, I guess. But I guess the question is... what flavor?


I have no idea!! Orange, maybe?? There's some citrus going on, but no chocolate!

So, I let Pillow try to suss it out.

Go on, try a little.


Pillow hates it!

He was not much help. But it was nice, not to suffer alone!

No sir.

Packaging: B-
Bouquet: C-
Interpretation of theme: D
All-around Taste: D
Final grade: C-

So, I give Calpis Creamy Chocolate a pass. I probably wouldn't advise giving it to your loved ones, or your friends, or your coworkers. I haven't tried normal Calpis, but I have a sneaking suspicion it probably tastes a lot like that... which means I think I'm gonna opt out of that one, too.

Until next time,

PS: For those of you sharp-eyed readers, why yes, I am not wearing my traditional bathrobe! I figured I'd dress it up a bit and wear some silky pajamas instead. Y'know. For Valentine's Day and all.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kirin Suika Soda!

Well, uh... who has two thumbs and totally forgot to update this blog for like, two weeks?

This girl.


Sorry to disappoint! I hope to be better at it in the future!!


So let's get right down to it, shall we? The soda that started it all...

Kirin Suika Soda!


Back in early December, Caroline from Spooning with a Schoolboy and I were out in Ikebukuro when we spotted a vending machine stocked with a 50 yen bottle of Suika Soda. I mused that even if it was awful, I'd try it for 50 yen, and thus, this blog was born! The only problem? It was sold out. Whomp whommmp. But I found it again, and at long last, here is my review!

It smells like...

Sniff sniff.

...watermelon-flavored Pop Rocks.

And it tastes like...

The same thing.

...liquid watermelon Pop Rocks!! It's just a little too artificially sweet for me to enjoy it, and there's a weird sour aftertaste to boot.


Packaging: A
Bouquet: B-
Interpretation of theme: C
All-around Taste: C
Final grade: C

Kirin Suika Soda is exactly what you'd expect: it tastes like artificial watermelon flavoring with bubbles in it. The packaging, with its red and green theme speckled with black "seeds" is pretty cute. All in all, eh, I guess it was worth 50 yen, but I still won't be finishing this one, either.

Hopefully I'll see you again soon... but, uh, I've used up my backlog of sodas!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sapporo Melon Cream Soda

I'm going to start this post by saying I'm disappointed in you.

That's right.

Because... seriously, guys. Why would you EVER think a soda claiming to be "melon float" [and on that note, I am terribly sorry, because I went by the picture rather than the katakana and called it that in error. (It is actually メロンクリームソダ, or "melon cream soda")] would be good?

I... I just honestly do not know what to do with you.

But this blog is here for your entertainment, even at my expense.

So at long last... I cracked open...

Sapporo Melon Cream Soda

Here it is, in all its neon green glory.

And there it is, in all its neon green glory. Let's take a closer look, shall we?

A closer look

It appears to say... がぶ飲み -- gabunomi? According to Google Translate, this means "gulp". So the full title of this beverage is "Gulp Melon Cream Soda." I think "gulp" is pretty appropriate here, because it is what I did in fear when I tremulously approached this drink. But anyway, when you turn it around, there's something on the back!


Mission 2, you guys! ... Alright, I'll bite: what's the mission?



Apparently, you have to... cosplay with the soda??



Really, I'm not kidding - it says "No.1 コスプレーヤー!!" (kosupure-ya-) and then shows this guy posing with the soda and getting his picture taken. This is truly bizarre.

Uh, so, points for originality there, Melon Cream Soda... but I haven't even begun, have I? Time to crack it open... and it opens with a sad fizz that does not indicate anything good. I am scared. Time to sniff it.


It smells like sugared-up ramune. If you've ever smelled normal ramune, you know to make it smell any more like bubblegum would be pretty hard and so this is a smell that that's... uh... pretty intense.

I am so scared.

I am going to drink this.



Oh, oh no.






For those of you who were like, "oh, melon float, sounds utterly charming", I wish I could send you a bottle so you, too, can enjoy this. It's great!

No, I'm only kidding. I don't hate any of you enough to inflict MELON CREAM SODA on you. I'll just send it to my enemies and then go to jail for putting biowaste in the post.



Packaging: A-
Bouquet: F
Interpretation of theme: F
All-around Taste: F-
Final grade: F

Sapporo's Gulp Melon Cream Soda gets high points for its extremely bizarre packaging, and bombs everything else so badly I wish there was a lower grade than F. Grrrrroooooossssss.

I'm gonna hope to high heavens that Suika Soda isn't as much as of a gastronomical disaster as this sugared up sewer sludge.

Forever in your service,

Monday, January 10, 2011

Asahi Green Cola

Alright! Welcome back to your regularly schedule program, folks. I realized I never mentioned that the photos are clickable for larger sizes. They're still not terribly good quality photos, but hey, if you wanna seem 'em bigger, go for it!

With that out of the way... After doing Red Ginger, it seems only right that, for my first review of the new year, I have selected...

Asahi Green Cola

Green Cola

As you may or may not be able to see on the label, Asahi Green Cola totes itself as being "for your natural life". Huh. While the name is written in a Coca-Cola-style typeface, the rest of the label sorta misses the mark. Nothing about this bottle immediately says "natural" "green" or "made with fruit". Oh, and it is made with fruit, because...

Is that like a modern life?

...a closer inspection reveals that "'Asahi Green Cola is made from selected raw materials derived from plants such as fruits, with cola's own dynamism and briskness."

Wait. "Such as fruits"? You don't say.

But really, wow. With a byline like that... how can you go wrong? Well, let's see how they did with cola's own dynamism.

Smells like Green Cola

Smells pretty cola-like. I'm okay with it so far. Let's see if it has that cola briskness.

Glug glug



"Brisk" is not the adjective I'd use to describe it. In fact, I'd describe it as bitterly sour; a sad attempt at cola "flavor" that misses the mark almost completely.

Let's put the lid on it.

So I'm cappin' this one back up.

Ugh. I was kinda optimistic because I do enjoy Japan's take on cola beverages way more than American ones, perhaps due to the cane sugar rather than HFCS usage, and to be honest, the idea of a "natural" soda is pretty appealing. But either way, Green Cola failed it. It was pleasing to the palate for all of two seconds and then immediately went sour. Gross. At least there isn't too much of a lingering aftertaste.

Packaging: C+
Bouquet: B
Interpretation of theme: D
All-around Taste: D
Final grade: D

With its slightly inappropriate packaging and its terrible flavor, Green Cola gets poor marks in everything but the bouquet, which smells deceptively like any other cola out there. Good thing it wasn't any more expensive than a normal soda. I can't recommend this at all.

Next time: I've been promising and promising it, but I will finally crack open that Melon Float! (Am I actually scared of it? Maybe a little...)

See ya!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A happy 2011, everyone!

It's the year of the rabbit!


What's that, you say? "Sarah, you're a little delayed on your New Year's greeting." Wellllllll, sure, it's January 9th at this point, but I think I have until, say, the 10th to tell you guys "happy new year"!

Anyway, I've been rather negligent because 2011 has been way busy so far! To utilize the 青春18きっぷ, I've been to Tokyo more often than not, it seems, which is a thing I am in no way complaining about. But that's not what you people are here for, is it? You are here...

...for beverages.

And I sure would like to comply, but I am not, as my blog asks, thirsty. To make it up to you, this week I will do not one, not two, but THREE reviews, because I have a mighty backlog.

Monday: "Green Cola", a suspicious beverage claiming to be made out of fruit.
Wednesday: Melon Float Soda, which I've had for quite a while now.
Friday: SUIKA SODA! The one that started it all... sort of.

I'm pumped. Are you?


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Guest Post: Strawberry Mille Feuille Dessert Milk Tea

Hey everybody! My name is Alice, and I'm going to be your host today. I'm a twenty-something girl living and working in Japan. You may know me as the former President of Otakorp Inc, the company behind Otakon, one of the largest Japanese Film and Culture Festivals in North America (ok, it's a really, really big Anime Con!) I also help run KawaiiBox! ( and am one of the leads of Super Happy Awesome Fun Time with Sean and Alice ( all about all the awesome there is to see and do here in Japan.

One of the things I love most about living in Japan is the multitude of excellent beverages available in handy 500 ml bottles. Vending machines and convenience stores hold a cornucopia of refreshing treats, and while some of the staples will be around for ever (Coca-Cola, Ooi Ocha, etc.) there is of course, the ever changing roster of insanity. Sarah has mentioned some of the stranger sodas found on the shelves, and I love carbonated sugar water as much as the next guy—probably more. But one of the areas where Japan truly excells is tea. A cliché, but there's certainly truth behind this one.

In the US, bottled tea is usually full of preservatives, sweeteners, and artificial flavorings. The most popular green tea at my local 7-11 was always an abomination called “Diet Green Tea”, which sounds redundant until you realize how many chemicals they fill it full of—all of the disgusting “flavor”, none of the calories of ingesting you know, actual food!

In Japan there are an amazing range of teas on the shelf, from pure, plain green tea to barley tea to roasted tea. And that's before getting into the sweet teas—lemon tea, peach tea, apple tea, countless flavors! My favorite is Milk Tea. Milk Tea is apparently imported from the British tradition, if the Engrish on many bottles is to be believed, though it doesn't taste particularly British—Lady Grey surely would have turned up her nose. It's quite sweet and milky, and distinctly Asian. A bit like Chai without the spices, or like a Bubble Tea without the tapioca pearls. I can't drink it every day, but it's a delicious treat once in a while.

If you've ever been to the Coca Cola Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, you know that there is a tasting area with different Coke products from around the world. Well, this is one for the hall of fame—I'm talking today about the newest offering from the Kochakaden Desserts Series—the same people who brought you Sakura, Mango, and Caramel Almond Milk Teas. What insane new flavor of tea has Coca-Cola brought us this time?

Strawberry Mille Feuille.

That's right, not just strawberry, not just cream, but the creamy, layered insanity of a Strawberry Napoleon dessert, in tea form. But what does it taste like?

Upon opening the bottle, one is hit with an overwhelming slap of artificial strawberry flavoring. And the sweetness. Oh, the sweetness. I practically felt a diabetic coma coming on after just a few sips. But after the first drink or two, the flavors mellowed, and I noticed the overwhelming nostalgia and familiarity I was feeling. Why? What was making me miss a hot summer's day at the pool?

It tastes exactly like Strawberry Quik.

The milky creaminess on my tongue, the scent of plastic strawberries drifting through my nasal passages. It was actually pretty drinkable, as long as you don't mind feeling like an 8 year old sipping pink milk. Luckily they didn't feel the need to fill it full of artificial coloring, so it's a normal tea color. I didn't get much Mille Feuille flavor—there were thankfully no chunks of pastry floating in the bottle!

I doubt I'll buy it again (ok, maybe one more bottle...) but it was certainly good for a blast from the past. Thanks, Coca-Cola, for a strange new flavor that doesn't, in the end, taste very new at all.