Valentine’s Day is upon us, again. Now in Japan, the custom of women giving chocolate to men on this day has been quite strongly established: Thanks to clever marketing campaigns, the girls have to buy a lot at special items at department stores across the country. There, you find all sorts of cacao temptations, from luxury truffles by chocolatiers to “all-you-can-pack” types. So if you want to impress the boy next door you have been eyeing for a while, PingMag recommends you to get some very special, uniquely shaped chocolate that might leave an impact…
Written by Ayana
Translated by Natsumi Yamane
For Geeky Types: A Chocolate “Automania Set.”
No, this is not an ad for a tool set “as seen on TV,” this “Automania Set” is all made of solid chocolate and will make every mechanic in the house more than happy. Despite its robust appearance, it bears fully authentic taste as it uses Belgian couverture chocolate as ingredient. Note: Nut and socket-shaped ranges are also available – what a perfect geeky present!
Chocolate In Disguise: “Okonomiyaki Chocolate Cake.”
The next Valentine treat looks like a normal Okonomiyaki, a kind of mixed pancake that is a mainstay of Japanese cuisine, but actually this is genuinely made of the delicious brown stuff, together with rich flavours of rum and Belgian chocolate. Incidentally, its Hiroshima-based confectioner, Toraya, has a repertoire of 380 products with a whole range of sweets that look like real savoury dishes, including sushi-shaped roll cakes and custard pudding resembling Chawanmushi.
A Wordplay: “Chocotto Gyoza”
Chocolate inside Chinese dumplings!? Once again Toraya has come up with this unimaginable combination of flavours, this limited edition of Valentine’s Day dumplings contains bean paste with bittersweet ganache. At other times of the year, they produce “Gyoza Buns” made of ordinary bean paste. It’ll definitely confuse your senses!
The Japanesque Approach: “Sushi Chocolate.”
From America we just got this “Sushi Chocolate” – made from rice cookies and chocolate. It’s too nice to look at, we can’t eat it! The owner of Suedy’s Koo-ki Sushi in sunny San Jose California apparently came up with this idea for the “National Cookie Competition,” and you can buy a single piece or a whole assortment, together in traditional boxes. For Japanophiles only!
Cocoa And Alcohol? Try “Chocolate Beer.”
Next up, we have a formidable chocolate-flavoured beer with the slightly bittersweet aroma of cacao, brewed from the special chocolate malt grain. And yes, it may be chocolate flavoured – but it’s definitely not sweet. This limited edition beverage from Sankt Gallen Brewery is only sold during Valentine season, so unfortunately online sales for this year have already finished. Make sure you remember this one for next year!
A Collaboration between Tradition and Design, “Chocolate Natto”
If you have ever tried natto, you know you will either love or hate this next one: Chocolate Natto is a collaboration between Taku Satoh, who held an exhibition at Art Tower Mito, and the manufacturer of Mito natto, Daruma Foods. This natto coated with chocolate and packed in a traditional straw bag comes in four flavours: plain, ginger, cinnamon and clove. It’s definitely something for you if you love both natto and design!
“Chocolate Beer” marketed by Sankt Gallen Brewery. Unfortunately, it’s all sold out for this year…
“Chocolate Natto” from Daruma Foods comes in a nice traditional straw bag.
Argh! “Beetle Larvae Chocolate!”
Akita-based confectioner Komatsuya Honten came up with something, well, special for Valentine’s Day: A 4,5 cm beetle larvae made of chocolate flake bodies gently coated with white chocolate. It was originally developed as a one-off event product, but since it became available on the shop’s web site, it’s been so popular that it’s now sold out until April. We don’t care about Valentine’s Day anymore but we want one!
Poo, finally! “Sacred Deer’s Droppings Chocolate.”
In Japan, Nara Park is famous for herds of wild Sika deer that are considered sacred messengers of God – but still they leave a lot of droppings on this earth. These might be auspicious too… The “Sacred Deer’s Droppings Chocolate” by Kubota Shoten has now joined the ranks of favourite souvenirs of Nara, and regardless of whom you plan to give it to, this is a must-have when visiting Nara!
A slightly bizarre line-up, but nevertheless delicious! Since some of the items are already sold out for this year, try to make make a note for next year’s Valentine’s!