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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Friday, January 13, 2006

The lure of the Choco Pie

So, I have returned from the land of the cantaloupe-flavoured Kit Kat (yes, really!), and I had a blast. Anyone who may be dissuaded from visiting Japan during the New Years Festivities and/or in mid-winter should be convinced otherwise. It's an excellent time to visit a wonderful country. Yes, a little chilly, but nothing 7 layers and your brother's borrowed snow-boarding jacket can't fix... :-) There's nothing like a bright red jacket on a tall, red-headed westerner to stand out on the Osaka streets! I felt like a member of a touring Ice Hockey team...
More Japan-related posts to come, but after only returning a few days ago I'm taking off this afternoon for a weekend in the country. Ok, so a holiday to Ballarat doesn't feel quite as exciting as 2 weeks in the Land of the Vending Machine Hot-Caffe Latte-In-A-Can (mmmmm!) but it will still be fun. We're performing in a festival there this weekend and staying in the same beautiful Victorian house as last year.

But in the meantime, I give you the what I believe to be one of the Great Wonders of Japanese food. Yes, you have your sushi and sashimi and sukiyaki and shabu-shabu...yes, yes, they're all good. But they pale into insignificance when compared with.....the Choco Pie.
Oooh, these are so good. For weeks before we left I spoke about them with a gleam in my eye. I discovered these at a convenience store in Tokyo a few years ago and have missed them ever since. If I could have fit more than 1 box in my luggage I would have brought back 100, but I'll just have to ration myself.
Made by the Lotte confectionary company, who are also responsible for the brilliantly named "Crunky" chocolate bar, these are deceptively simple little cakes. Description-wise, they are nothing special: a "chocolate-coated vanilla cream sandwich". Yeah, hmmm. Meh. But a Choco Pie is a text-book example of the whole being greater than its parts. The chocolate coating is a perfect balance between crisp shell and melty-to-the-finger goodness, the cake part is light and slightly crumbly, which acts as the perfect foil for the thick vanilla "cream". To bite through that crispy chocolate shell and get a mouthful of cake, cream and chocolate was a life-defining moment. Ok, so not really, but they are pretty damn good and I know I converted at least one of my friends.

This photo was taken at Lucas's house. There was a spare Choco-pie on the table and I decided to take a photo for you all...and of course I couldn't just take a photo of the wrapper, so I had to open it, and of course I needed to show you readers the filling, so of course I had to take a bite. And then suddenly it was all gone and the only evidence was the crumbs on my top lip. Mmmmmm....


  • Welcome back Niki! Can't wait to hear more about your trip!

    By Blogger Cathy, at 1/13/2006 02:42:00 pm  

  • Good to see you back Niki! And those choco pies look yummy. I wonder if they have them at the Japanese Grocer?

    By Blogger plum, at 1/13/2006 03:42:00 pm  

  • Hi Niki
    I am very sure you can get Chocopie here in Oz.

    I am so glad you had a great trip! I am itching to go to Japan

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/13/2006 04:18:00 pm  

  • OMG, that looks totally scrumptious! I so have to go to the Japanese sections at the supermarket to see if they have that. Oh yums!

    By Blogger Stephanie, at 1/13/2006 10:25:00 pm  

  • Welcome back Niki!

    By Blogger Cerebrum, at 1/13/2006 10:49:00 pm  

  • hey! did u manage to try those japanese crepes? they put almost anything from ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream to bacon and god knows what else in it and they're absolutely delish!

    By Blogger diva, at 1/13/2006 11:19:00 pm  

  • yep you can definately get them here, I saw lotte brand on sale for $2.50 a packet on 4 different flavs. So I guess if they are in Syd they will be in Melb

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/14/2006 12:48:00 am  

  • Welcome home, Niki. Have fun at the festival this weekend. I can't wait to hear all about your trip!

    By Blogger Nic, at 1/14/2006 01:44:00 am  

  • Welcome back! Yes, you can definitely get Choco pies here although I've never been tempted to try them. I think your description has changed my mind, tho. What you CANNOT get here are all the different KitKat flavours that they have in Japan - one of my main reasons for wanting to visit :-)

    By Blogger cin, at 1/14/2006 05:41:00 pm  

  • Hi Niki. When you get back from Ballarat you will find I have tagged you for the "Too Much Information" meme!
    To find out what you have to do - check out my blog for details! cookinginjapan.blogspot.com

    By Blogger Crazy Gaijin, at 1/15/2006 04:24:00 pm  

  • Yes, you can definitely get them here (although it could be of a different brand). I've seen them at Suzuran (Burke Road, Camberwell) and in numerous Chinese grocery stores in Box Hill. Hope this helps. Cheers.

    PS: It's good you can't read the ingredients. When I lived in Japan, I used to love them until I finally bothered to read the ingredients. Very scary with plenty of chemicals.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/15/2006 10:27:00 pm  

  • Wait -- I thought Lotte was a Korean brand, no? I remember eating them as a kid when I was over there. Korea, I mean. Not Japan or Australia.

    By Blogger Siel, at 1/17/2006 08:25:00 am  

  • Well everyone, you're right - yes I can get them in Melbourne! A friend emailed me a few minutes after I'd posted to tell me that she saw them for sale in an Asian supermarket in the city the night before and nearly bought some. She also pointed out that Lotte is a Korean company, not Japanese, so Siel, yes' you're right. Oops.

    Clare Eats - 4 flavours?? I saw only 2 in Japan. The original was the best, though.

    Diva - No, I didn't try the pancakes. Sounds like I missed a treat! Although I did try lots of other "different" stuff!

    Cin - you'll love a post I'm planning soon. I came back with about 5 kilos of Kit Kats in 6 different flavours. Crazy!!!

    Anon - I reckon you're right there. I'm not sure I'd want to read the ingredients at all. It's funny, in Australia I steer away from processed cake-things like the plague, but it's like when you go overseas, if you can't understand the labels, ahh well, guess it won't kill me! :-)

    By Blogger Niki, at 1/18/2006 05:12:00 pm  

  • Yep
    The one you have, marshmallow creme, bluberry and yoghurt and custard cream
    AMAZING huh?
    I coulnd't convince the boy we needed them even though they were on sale for $2.50!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/18/2006 05:26:00 pm  

  • lotte is KOREAN. Chocopies are korean.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/19/2006 03:33:00 am  

  • Hi, Niki! I found Chocopies in a Korean supermarket (Green Mart on LaTrobe St). Am slowly getting my blog going but you gave me something to blog about!

    By Blogger Belinda, at 1/22/2006 11:04:00 pm  

  • Best of Chocopie is made by Orion. Lotte Chocopie is no good.

    By Blogger jkk, at 3/23/2007 12:36:00 pm  

  • um... yeah... chocopies are korean and Orion has the better ones

    By Blogger Lígia, at 6/05/2007 08:22:00 am  

  • Brilliant post about one of my favorite Japanese treats!

    By Blogger canadasue, at 2/05/2008 10:29:00 am  

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