On a leisurely Friday morning in the suburbs, I was yearning for a mini adventure. Scanning through my mental list of locations I’ve been wanting to visit for some time, one place sounded very appealing that day. I’ve seen Japanese Don Don Donki shops in the island, but I had yet to visit them as they usually seem to be bustling with enthusiastic shoppers or snaking queues (at least whenever I pass by). Don Don Donki is operated by Don Quijote, a famous Japanese retailer. Having a little taste of Japan sounded like fun, therefore, I made my way to a Don Don Donki outlet.
As soon as I took a step into the shop, I felt like I had entered a teleportation device and arrived in Tokyo… well, aside from everything being in English instead of solely Japanese. It makes one go “whoa!” in wonder from the very beginning.
While there were a few other shoppers here and there, it felt like I had the place to myself to explore!
This place might look like a regular shop with elaborate yet aesthetically-pleasing designs on camera, but behind the lens, the sensory experience was completely different! A lot was going on at the same time. Bright lights, music (which I reckon is their jingle), colorful products and fun signage fill the space with vibrancy. It has theme park meets funfair/carnival vibes in a supermarket.
The outlet I visited is more like a supermarket, and it’s my most exciting supermarket trip in recent times. It’s not every day that I’d see cool animatronic-like installations whilst grocery shopping – like the mascots moving up and down at the entrance, and inside the shop where a bumper car or train rotates around on a track that seems to be attached to the ceiling! I’m still in awe.
Frozen Japanese desserts, freshly-made bento boxes, snacks, fresh veggies, meats and loads of Japanese grocery staples that are commonly seen in Japan are available here. Most of the products are from Japan and are suited for the Japanese palate. Like me, if you love Japanese food and Japanese packaging designs, this place is for you.
If you’re planning to visit Don Don Donki for the very first time, I definitely recommend dropping by on a day when you have more time to spare as there’s plenty to explore. It’s worth a visit for a unique grocery shopping experience!
The prophesy of never stepping out of a Don Don Donki emptyhanded certainly reigned in my shopping trip, albeit a small haul which comprised of a box of intriguing spring-themed cookie bites. The munchie is from a section dedicated to seasonal spring eats. I must add that I love the wisdom shared on the large sign in this section.
As I had not tasted anything related to sakura (cherry blossoms) for some time, I simply had to seize the unmissable opportunity that the foodie universe had granted before spring officially comes to an end. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the last spring munchie for the year.
Cream Collon cookie snacks are made by a Japanese brand named Glico (the creators of Pocky). The origin of Cream Collon’s name is a complete mystery to me – perhaps it’s an ode to the semicolon? Based on a quick search of the word online, Collon is also the name of a village in Ireland.
I’ve seen the Thai-made versions of the cream and chocolate Cream Collon cookie snacks in local supermarkets here in the Lion City, but I had never heard of the Japanese-made sakura-matcha combination. In comparison to the typical Cream Collon cookies available here, this version is a little on the premium side at $3.50 – I reckon this is due to the special ingredients and costs of importing it from Japan.
After admiring the packaging, it was time to open my box of treasures!
Cute bite-sized cookies with a cream in the middle said “greetings, foodie!” when I took a peek inside the package.
These munchies are circular from the top, with a cylindrical shape from the side. A peachy-pinkish cream is wrapped in matcha (green tea) cookies. Aesthetically, they remind me of lush forests and beautiful Japanese-themed gardens. Scrutinizing the cookie pieces closely, they look like mini sushi-ish cookie rolls!
The cream is the element where the sakura comes alive. According to the translated ingredients list, the sakura-based ingredient is ‘dried salted cherry leaves’. In general, most foodies tend to describe sakura flowers as floral, bitter or earthy. Like the flowers, sakura leaves are edible and they can be found in the Japanese dessert realm at springtime – an example is sakura mochi. They also tend to be pickled, and they are packed with unique flavors. I was intrigued with this ingredient, therefore, I couldn’t wait any longer to taste the cookies myself!
The leaves aren’t visible, but they are certainly present. In my introductory piece, I detected an earthy flavor, which my mind interestingly classified as a flavor profile that’s shared with spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, etc.) My third and fourth bites comprised of a gentle yet identifiable floral note as the primary flavor, with earthy undertones. Through some post-snacking sleuthing, I discovered that the notes I experienced are similar to the general flavor descriptions of sakura leaves.
To my palate, the cream’s holistic flavor was more prominent than the cookie’s matcha component. However, upon tasting some bits of the cookie sans the cream, its own flavor shone nicely.
This cookie snack isn’t too sweet, which makes it enjoyable for those with and without sweet tooths. Fun fact: in Japan, desserts that aren’t too sweet or are perhaps more sophisticated and suit mature palates are labelled with the word ‘Otona’ in Japanese (or ‘adult’ in English – like the translated label on the box). In my eyes, this snack is fun for anyone to taste.
To my surprise, the most delicate part of this munchie is the cookie component as it was prone to being chipped into smaller pieces. The matcha cookie is somewhat comparable to wafer and waffle biscuits. The cream is on the dense side, but it also possesses an interesting mix of softness and some coarseness. My assumption is that the coarse part might be credited to the sakura leaves. All of the unique textures work well together in every bite.
All in all, I had a fabulous foodie adventure. See you next year, spring! And I can’t wait to visit you again, Don Don Donki!