Thursday, February 4, 2010

Azuki Kit Kat

I've had a tumultuous relationship with azuki beans here in Japan. The first time I had them was in a bowl of zenzai - which is sweet red bean soup with big globs of mochi in it. I had just arrived in Japan and so I saw what I thought was a hearty bean soup that back home would have been salty. Imagine my surprise when it was sweet. I almost spit it back out into the bowl. Two years later and I still won't eat zenzai. I could probably stomach it now but the thought of eating something so sweet for lunch is unappetizing. It's the only school lunch menu I won't eat.

Over time I have come to realize that it isn't the beans in traditional Japanese sweets that I don't like but the mochi. I am perfectly happy to eat red bean paste in a cake or donut. And if a little old lady offers me a bowl of straight up azuki beans I can eat it without wanting to spit it out. So an Azuki Kit Kat didn't make me nervous like it might have two years ago.

The Azuki Kit Kat was released in honor of Setsubun. This Japanese holiday is celebrated on February 3rd as the changing of the seasons. People throw soy beans at friends or family dressed up as an oni or devil and say something to the effect of "out with the devil and in with good luck." It doesn't really make sense to me but then neither does Groundhog Day. I didn't throw beans yesterday but I did have some with school lunch and I ate my Azuki Kit Kat decorated with its own red oni.

The Azuki Kit Kat is a Kit Kat Bar and has 237 calories. It's made with milk chocolate and right away I could smell the red beans. The actual azuki taste is mild and concentrated mostly in the creme but it does mix well with the chocolate. Maybe if I had tried it first in a Kit Kat rather than in zenzai I might have liked it from the beginning. The only thing I didn't like was the pretty strong aftertaste of azuki it left in my mouth for quite a while after I finished the bar. Still it was a nice snack and a great way to celebrate Setsubun since I didn't have anyone to throw beans at.

Final Score: 7


  1. hello! although not nearly as dedicated as you (much too lazy for that) i do try as many as i can up here. let me know if i can post you any hokkaido versions to try!


  2. Hey Jen,
    I just caught up on some of your Kit Kat adventures...fascinating! I will have to catch up more often, and hear more about the large variety of Kit Kats. Who knew?

  3. Hey, did you see the blackbean one also released for setsubun? I thought that would have been interesting!