Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Garlic Doritos

One thing you notice if you live in Japan long enough is that food manufacturers are big fans of short-term variations on their core products. In the U.S., you find markets stocking a huge variety all the time, though they also introduce limited edition flavors regularly. In Tokyo, with such limited shelf space in most stores, you get more of what I'd call "serial variety". That means that you should stock up on some obscure flavor if you like it because it probably won't come around again for another year once it's off the shelves.

I've also been told by Japanese people that they like sampling a wide variety of flavors and, in fact, I've been told that the U.S. has little variety compared to Japan. Given that my CH's trip home last year included pictures of shelves chock-a-block with 12 different flavors of coffee creamer, the observation that the U.S. has little variety comes as a surprise to me. I think that what the Japanese people mean is that the U.S. doesn't have the flavor "revolving door" that Japan appears to have. The thing about these variations, and I have to give the marketing folks credit for this, is that they encourage you to sample. It's not only the novelty, but also the limited availability.

I'm not a big chip eater, but I decided to pick up these garlic Doritos at the 99 yen shop when I saw about fifty bags of them on display. I love garlic and I do like tortilla chips. However, my taste in tortilla chips is definitely more toward the baked variety. We buy cases of "Guiltless Gourmet" mucho nacho flavor chips from the Foreign Buyer's Club to have when the desire for something salty hits. I also pack a small handful of them with my CH's lunch most days. In general, Doritos are too greasy for me.

The garlic Doritos smelled like beef consomme when I opened the bag. The smell of garlic isn't all that strong. The taste, however, was pretty intense. When my CH tried them, he thought there was a hint of pepper in them but there is no pepper listed in the ingredients. I think that the garlic is so intense that it tastes a bit hot. If you've ever been foolish enough to bite down on a raw garlic clove, you know that it can taste rather hot depending on the age and type of garlic.

The chips definitely had a strong overtone of consomme flavor (like chicken or beef bullion cubes) and what are called "barbecue" chips in Japan. In the U.S., "barbecue" usually means a sort of spicy, tomato or ketchup flavored chip. In Japan, it is supposed to be a chip which tastes similar to barbecued or grilled meat.

While these chips aren't bad, they also aren't great. If you want something salty and they're around, they're serviceable. However, they aren't the sort of thing I'd find myself craving or buying again.


Shawn said...

Oh, I see how it is. I get mocked for using "chiffonade" in my descriptions yet you get to say consommé (twice!) without even blinking? Hmph!

Incidentally, I'd be inclined to agree with your assessment of the spice, although it's impressive that they managed to retain garlic's natural pepper even in dry fried form.

Dateline Osaka said...

I don't know what it is about the U.S.'s variety but I really feel it comes up short compared to Japan's. Maybe it's the lack of flavors I find appealing. Like, how many Flaming Hot Jalapeno Chili Nacho variations does a person need before all of their tastebuds are burned out? :)

The U.S. seems to trend toward hot and spicy instead of something more interesting (I think, anyway ^_^ ) like pizza or garlic flavor...And things like "Cool Ranch" have been beaten to death. I like the flavor, but it's been around forever and isn't anything to get excited over anymore. I love how at least here you can try all kinds of weird flavors in a familiar product without having to burn your tongue out! Sometimes MEGA XXXTREEEEM flavors are too strong for me, and they really kind of reek of test groups by an overly pushy marketing team.

Er...Sorry if that came off as kind of an angry rant. All I really meant to say was that even though there's some variety in U.S. products back home, they seem to be the same old same old variety, whereas Japan's varieties get newer and more strange, it seems, every time they're put out there! :)

P.S....Mmmm....Garlic Doritos....I haven't seen them yet, but will now start looking! Thanks for the tip!

Orchid64 said...

I have to use consommé because that's what the Japanese flavor is, literally, it's ko-n-so-me (コンソメ). Who made you use chiffonade, hmmm? It's not my fault the Japanese name their chips that way and force me to be pretentious-sounding!

I didn't know that these chips were even sold in the U.S. They're awfully sucky for something made there!

Orchid64 said...

Dateline: Some of the Japanese flavors are utter failures however. I had a watermelon Kit-Kat the other day and it was incredibly vile.

Some experiments are doomed to failure from the start.

Lulu said...

Yes the different kit-kat flavours do leave a lot to be desired but I do miss the chips (I don`t think they were doritos though) that actually had melted cheese on them. Genius!!!

Just wanted to say- in response to your most recent post- WELL SAID!

It is a shame you had to turn off comments on your old blog but hey if it means less people will piss you off then you did the right thing!

I am the same with my Japanese- I am fairly confident in using a Japanese OS and have done before but why stress my brain out and do it all the time? I have not yet given up on becoming fluent in speaking but I long ago gave up becoming fluent in reading!!!

I am really lucky that so far I haven`t seem to had many "mean" or "stalker-like" comments as of yet but I do get about 400 spam a day!!! Luckily the wordpress spam blocker seems to do the job!

Have a great week!

Orchid64 said...

Hi, Lulu, and thanks for your comment and for reading. I think the chips with melted cheese were some sort of pizza chip? I haven't had them for ages, but they were around for a long time. I wonder why they took them off the market.

Thank you also for your supportive words regarding my other post. I turned comments off on it in order to discourage the other element from ragging on me (I'm sure you can understand why).

I'm adding you to my blog list and subscribing to yours via RSS. I look forward to reading it!

'badmoodguy' is mike said...

I have always been curious as to the wide variety of flavors of things Japanese. Like KitKats, which I love dearly, in so many flavors. Here, I have to "settle" for plain old chocolate...not that that is a bad thing!

I guess we here in the states don't like variety, perhaps? Or are we naturally resistant to change?

Another candy bar I love is Twix, and I distinctly remember the introduction of Peanut Butter Twix. I thought that I was in heaven...but now they are relatively hard to find unless I go out of my way. (Which is worth it!)

As for the Doritos, I wonder if they might have been the special "X-90" flavor that was around here for a while. Back about two years ago lots of stores and Sam's Club in my area started stocking plain black bags of Doritos with only the typical logo and a large "X-90 Flavor Test" on them. I wasn't adventurous enough to try...

Orchid64 said...

Mike: I actually like really strongly-flavored chips (when I have chips). About once or twice a year, I have the CH pick up a bag of Tim's jalapeno chips at Costco (and then regret it as the bag is huge and irresistible). They used to be better than they are though since I believe they mellowed them out.

I'm serious about sending you an assortment of Japanese goodies at some point. Unfortunately, the weather won't mellow here until some time in October, but you can expect an e-mail asking for your mailing address once it cools down and I can be confident that any chocolate I send won't melt into a pile of goo. :-)

'badmoodguy' is mike said...

Lulu said chips with melted cheese... Oy! That is just another proof that EVERYTHING IS BETTER WITH CHEESE! :)

I have noticed that a few things around here have changed, such as Cheez-Its. They are my favorite snack cracker, and I missed eating them dearly when I could not snack during treatments. But, they have changed over the years. I distinctly remember them being "cheez"ier and a little bit greasy. They are now a lot crunchier and not as flaky and not as salty. I guess some of these changes are for the better, but when I want junk food...I want me some junk food!

Thanks for sending me a care package! I will relish it, I am sure. I will have to post a blog about all the luscious goodies, too! If there is anything that you would like from the states, let me know. The other night I had some ice cream from Graeter's (a local place that does french-style high-calorie high-fat ice cream that is to die for) but I don't think it would survive the trip. :( Some butter, perhaps? LOL!