Happy February, dear friends! This week, we’re stepping into the exciting realm of Japanese Kit Kats. Without further ado, I hereby present the latest addition to the snack stash… onsen manju Kit Kats!
In Japan, Kit Kats – particularly the special regional ones – are commonly purchased as omiyage (souvenir gifts) when travelers visit different regions in the country. As most visitors (especially international visitors) aren’t able to travel to these gorgeous locations right now, Kit Kat has introduced these flavors to both domestic and international chocolate aisles for a limited time.
One of these unique Kit Kats, which I spotted on a trip to the shops, is the onsen manju Kit Kat. Inspired by red bean buns (manju) that are available in towns with hot springs (onsen), this Kit Kat is typically exclusively available at only 21 hot spring resort towns in the Land of the Rising Sun. There’s no other way to taste this Kit Kat, except by plotting a trip to an onsen… until now!
Before unwrapping the Kit Kat fingers, I was admiring the package’s design, which depicts an authentic Japanese onsen experience. From emojis and icons that represent hot springs, to illustrations of relaxing peacefully in an onsen, the thoughtfully-picked aesthetics are absolutely beautiful. While individual Kit Kat wrappers are made from plastic, the main packaging is from a paper-based material – I had never experienced with Kit Kats previously! These image represent activities, accessories or map signs that all point to ‘hot springs’.
Red beans, also known as ‘azuki beans’, are ubiquitous in East and Southeast Asian desserts. These beans are approved by both sweet tooths and foodies with an unwavering loyalty to savory stuff, primarily because of its flavor profile. It doesn’t taste ‘sugary’ even though it is included in desserts, but red bean isn’t ‘savory’ like baked beans on toast either. Being somewhere in-between results in a balance of satisfying your calling for sweets without having a sugary bite. It’s one of the must-try ingredients in Asian cuisine!
There are several varieties of manju in Japanese cuisine, and onsen manju is a delicate and fluffy steamed bun with an anko (red bean paste) filling. Kit Kat’s take on this delicacy features a white chocolate coat, with red bean cream (from red bean powder) sandwiched between wafer layers. The chocolate’s hue reflects the buns’ light-ish brown color, while the inside has a seemingly-chocolatey filling… which is actually red bean. And now, it’s the moment I’ve bean waiting for!
The Kit Kats have the soul of red beans, in the form of crunchy chocolate bites! While I munched thoughtfully, I realized that they almost tastes like red bean fillings in buns. I am used to a bolder red bean touch from red bean paste in steamed buns here in the Lion City, therefore, the red bean cream is on the gentle side (to my palate). Red bean stands out without being overpowering – which I reckon is absolutely perfect for newcomers to the delicious world of red beans.
For those of us who are seasoned red bean dessert munchers and/or familiar with the ingredient, it’s another experience that we get to stamp as ‘munched’ on the red bean trail. White chocolate and red bean results in a harmonious partnership for the taste buds. Creamy white chocolate’s sweetness and milky touch doesn’t erase red bean’s presence. The flavors are simple, but executed wonderfully. It’s a winner in my books!
All in all, I absolutely love these Kit Kats!