Those who read my last post about Zenpop (here if you missed it) may remember I mentioned buying a second pack before I even finished reviewing my first one, I was so impressed. Well, here it is! This is the debut Ramen + Sweets Mix Pack, released February 2017. You can view details of the current mix pack here and all other Zenpop packs here.
Honestly I like the look of all the packs Zenpop offer, but for me this one stood out for its incredible value; for $24.50 you receive 2-3 noodle bowls, 6-8 snacks and free international shipping. Considering how much it costs to import these ramen noodle pots or subscribe to dedicated noodle subscription boxes I think this pack is a great way to go if (like me) you’re on a budget and want to try both interesting noodles and interesting snacks. After all, why choose one when you can get both? ｡^‿^｡
The theme for this debut pack is Salty + Sweet, which is one of my absolute favourite flavour combinations when snacking. Don’t forget that the beauty of Zenpop’s boxes lies in the fact that you don’t have to commit to a monthly subscription, you are able to dip in and out and buy only the boxes that interest you. The item description tells you some of the items included and gives teasers for the rest so you can figure out most of the items before you buy, which is both useful and exciting to me. No mystery means no let downs after all, plus you get the hype from knowing what goodies are on the way rather than wondering if you’ll like the items you’ve just paid for. I couldn’t wait for this box to arrive knowing it had matcha potato chips in it o(>ω<)o
Let’s have a look at what was included in the debut pack~
Tan Tan Noodles
The first of the noodle pots in this box is a spicy tan tan flavour. I hadn’t heard of tan tan noodles before, but the flavour combination of pork broth with sesame, chilli, green onion and sichuan pepper sounded pretty good to me!
Turns out the broth is as brightly coloured as the packaging!
The little pieces of meat freaked me out a little, that’s not something you generally find in UK instant noodles. I let my partner eat most of those, although they aren’t bad. The spice level is milder than I expected it to be but the broth has a lovely warming kick to it. To me the rich pork and the sesame are the dominant flavours, with the green onion adding a nice freshness. All in all these are great, very comforting on a cold day.
10/10 for these strange smelling but great tasting noodles!
Next up we have a pot of Shio (salt) ramen with lots of lovely veggies, garlic and spices in a chicken/pork based broth.
The first thing I noticed was how well the vegetables rehydrate! If anyone reading this have had the pleasure (ahem) of eating a chicken and mushroom Pot Noodle here in the UK, you’ll know the ‘mushrooms’ aren’t really all that great. This little pot features sliced mushrooms, sweetcorn, carrots and chopped cabbage (maybe green onion too?) and you would be forgiven to think they’d all been added in fresh rather than dried as both the tastes and textures are all perfect. The cabbage in particular is delicious!
The broth is lovely and light and to me tasted like a Batchelors Golden Vegetable Cup A Soup, not what I expected from a pork/chicken broth but it’s okay, vegetable broth is good!
10/10 from me, this one was my favourite of the noodle pots just for the lovely vegetable toppings.
The last noodle pot is a chicken based Shoyu (soy sauce) Noodle. This one was the most interesting purely for the amount of toppings, look:
It’s so colourful! There’s scrambled egg, pork pieces, green onion and adorable little slices of naruto, a type of fish cake many anime fans will be familiar with. After finding the beef pieces in the Tan Tan Noodles intimidating, you can imagine how I felt about all these strange and wonderful toppings!
As you would imagine from a soy based broth this one is quite salty and while the broth itself is quite hearty, this one has an overall light and mild flavour. The toppings manage to absorb the flavour of the broth while still retaining their individual flavours, with the exception of the naruto slices which are quite flavourless but pleasantly chewy. This one was definitely an experience!
Another 10/10 for the final noodle pot, I was initially overwhelmed by all the toppings but they come together to make a lovely meal. And I do mean meal, since this one is way too filling to be a snack!
Salty Butter Cookies
Now, on to the snacks! First up is a big pack of Tohato Salty Butter Cookies. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a million times; I love Tohato snacks. They haven’t let me down yet. These cookies are no exception!
In true Japanese style the cookies are all individually wrapped, all the better to preserve their freshness and allow for easy sharing.
The cookies are aptly named as they are indeed salty! These have a soft and crumbly texture, much like a short bread biscuit, and are wonderfully buttery. There is a glaze on top of each cookie which adds the salty flavour along with a sweet and buttery taste. The glaze makes these very heavily flavoured but absolutely delicious because of it, they really capture the salty-sweet theme of this box perfectly!
10/10, another Tohato treasure (´▽`人)
Candemina Energy Soda
Gummies! You can’t go wrong with energy drink gummies (unless of course you don’t like energy drinks). These ones are shaped like little zig-zag lines, how fun!
At first these gummies are SO sour! I think they’re fizzy too but it’s hard to tell past the sourness. It’s almost unbearable, but within a few seconds it passes and you get to the sweet energy drink flavour. It’s worth the few seconds of scrunching your face in sourness induced pain, honest! (⋟_⋞)
The texture is quite tough/firm so you end up chewing each one for ages, all the while enjoying the sweet and never ending energy drink goodness. Yum!
I’d give these a 10/10 for their fun shape, great texture and delicious flavour. I’d love to try these in other flavours too!
What a strange name! I’m no expert but I don’t think that phrase really means anything in French? If I told you these biscuits are called ‘langue de chat’ (cats tongue) I wonder would you have the same initial thought as me and wonder what ‘d’asses’ is supposed to mean…I mean, are those skid marks on that cat tongue?
Wherever the inspiration for these cookies and their odd name came from I can assure you they do not taste of kitty ass (not that I’d know) but are actually amazing!
Like the Tohato cookies this box contains lots of individually wrapped biscuits. I say lots rather than 12 because I can’t remember if I took a couple out before I took the above photo, oops! Plenty to share in any case ｡^‿^｡
Aren’t the biscuits pretty?
The biscuit itself is very delicate, like a super thin and crisp shortbread. It’s buttery, crumbly and all round delicious. The chocolate filling adds more substance and a delicious sweet creaminess that compliments the slight saltiness of the biscuits perfectly. These are absolutely divine and are quite possibly my favourite Japanese biscuit yet! I could have happily eaten the whole box, but it would have been wrong of me to deprive my dear family of this delight so I didn’t. Honest.
A firm 10/10. A big box of delicious fancy biscuits should be mandatory in every subscription box!
Matcha Potato Chips
Finally we arrive at the item I was most excited about, Matcha Potato Chips! This is the kind of thing you think is an April Fools joke until you remember that, oh yeah, we’re talking about Japan here. Creative snack releases are kind of their thing.
The chips are a plain/salted flavour and have a matcha chocolate drizzle on one side of each chip. Here’s a closer look at that coating:
I’m happy to report that these chips are every bit as amazing as I hoped they would be. The thick matcha drizzle is sweet and creamy with a mild matcha flavour. The chips are still nice and crunchy, I believe they are a little thicker than Japanese chips usually are to make sure they don’t get soggy. The sweet and salty flavours are in perfect harmony, with the matcha coming through more in the aftertaste. This may sound like a strange combination but honestly, they’re a must try if you’re into the whole sweet and salty combination. Or if you simply like eating chocolate and crisps together (guilty!). Or even if you just want to say you’ve tried something that sounds really strange but works!
These get a 10/10 from me, these chips may seem like a gimmick but they’re a real winning combination both in terms of taste and texture. The taste sensation we never knew we needed!
Puchi Kabuki Crackers
A wagashi snack now, this pack contains lots and lots of little soy sauce glazed rice crackers. Can’t beat a good rice cracker! ^_~
The soy glaze is both sweet and mildly salty and the rice crackers themselves have a light and super crunchy texture. These are incredibly moreish!
10/10, these are ideal for those who like a savoury/sweet snack. Zenpop recommend dipping these in mayonnaise, I wish I’d read that before we ate them all as that sounds very interesting indeed!
Sherbet Pero Cider
Last but not least we have a lovely little lollipop ｡^‿^｡
It’s a bit confusing to see Japanese snacks labelled ‘cider’ as in the UK cider is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented apples. When you see cider written as サイダー like on this lollipop it doesn’t mean apple cider at all, it basically means a lemon-lime soda.
Of course this isn’t just a lollipop, the packet is full of yummy soda sherbet to dip the lolly into. I love sherbet dip lollipops and I love soda flavoured candies so this is pretty much heaven to me! The soda flavour is great and there’s a good amount of sherbet in the pack (should have photographed that shouldn’t I) to keep you dipping away for ages. Yum!
10/10 for a fun and tasty little snack.
Well, what can I say? I think the fact that every snack scored a 10/10 pretty much sums up how much I loved this pack! I feel it lived up to my expectations in every way; the contents were great quality, there was a great variety of snacks (including things it would be pretty hard to find outside of Japan) and all in all I think there’s a lot in this box for the price. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another Ramen+Sweets Mix Pack in the future so I certainly recommend it ｡^‿^｡