Taste of Japan: Top 10 rice crackers & snacks
Taste of Japan: Top 10 rice crackers & snacks
Japan has a long tradition of making sweets and snacks from rice. Especially Japanese rice crackers are a favorite of the nation and you can buy them in all sorts of shapes and flavors at supermarkets and convenience stores.
Kameda Seika is one of Japan’s prime rice cracker makers, creating delicacies out of rice that are incredibly hard to come by outside of Japan.
The company has its headquarters in Niigata Prefecture, a beautiful area on the Sea of Japan. In 2017, Kameda Seika celebrated its 60th anniversary, looking back on a successful history. In recent years, however, Kameda Seika’s flavorful rice treats have started to make waves abroad, lauded as a great way to experience Japanese food culture.
Indeed, casual snacks offer a world of flavors and tastes to discover! Here are the 10 must-try Japanese rice crackers by Kameda Seika!
Brief History of Japanese Rice Crackers
The rice crackers as Kameda Seika makes them are a traditional snack of Japan. They can be roughly divided into two categories, depending on the main ingredient: <Arare|i@> and okaki rice crackers are made of glutinous rice, while senbei rice crackers are made of non-glutinous rice.
Japan boasts a rich rice culture and there’s an ancient custom of offering rice to the deities to thank for the harvest of this year and pray for a bountiful harvest for next year.
These kinds of offerings are made from glutinous rice because it has a comparatively long shelf life. After the offering and once some time has passed, the now hard rice cakes are smashed up, baked, and roasted to be enjoyed. This is said to be the origin of Japanese rice crackers.
Niigata Prefecture, where Kameda Seika’s headquarters are located, is one of Japan’s leading rice-producing areas. According to 2016 data of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Niigata is in first place when it comes to rice production for consumption by prefecture. About 8% of Japan’s edible rice comes from Niigata and the prefecture boasts a lot of high-grade brands. Of course, a dish made with excellent rice has excellent taste!
Kameda Seika’s Japanese rice crackers come straight from this hot spot of quality rice. Their rich taste has made them a beloved staple snack for an entire nation while new creations and fun flavors are released regularly to keep surprising fans both old and new! Let’s snack our way through Kameda Seika’s top 10 lineup.
#10. Tsu no Edamame
Tsu no Edamame is a tasty rice cracker snack that boasts a rich flavor of edamame, green soybeans. They’re entirely made with a soybean variety called dadacha-mame, rich in umami and with a wonderfully subtle sweetness. The crackers taste just like the actual beans but come with a satisfying crunch and crispy texture. Gently salted, they go excellently well with a cold glass of beer. People who want to keep an eye on their weight and health also can snack these without worry.
#9. Sarada Usuyaki
The Sarada Usuyaki rice crackers are bite-sized and pleasantly thin. “Sarada” stands for the crackers being salty, moderately seasoned, and of a light texture. This dangerously delicious combination will have you snacking them one after another, best enjoyed with a nice cup of green tea between meals. The simple salt taste also makes them perfect to be topped with cream cheese, dipped into a nice sauce, or arranged as snacks.
#8. Shiroi Fusen Milk Cream
Shiroi Fusen Milk Cream are Japanese rice crackers boasting a gentle and crunchy texture with milk cream sandwiched in between soft white crackers.
These rice crackers contain the rice-derived lactic acid bacteria K-2 and 10 of them have as much calcium as a small pack of milk (227ml). That means they’re not only delicious but also a nice choice for nutrition and health-oriented people. The white rice crackers are surprisingly fluffy and soft, melting in the mouth like wafers and tickling your taste buds with sweet cream. Their texture is rather different from cookies and they promise a snack adventure like you’ve never had before, surely becoming one of your new tea time favorites!
#7. Hai Hain
Hai Hain are famous rice crackers specifically for babies and toddlers, as they can be safely enjoyed from 7 months and up.
Needless to say, they’re free of flavoring, coloring, and preservatives, but these Japanese rice crackers also do not feature 27 ingredients that may cause allergic reactions. They come in two flavors: one is the classic Hai Hain blended with rice-derived lactic acid bacteria K-2 and calcium, while the other one is “Yasai Hai Hain” with four kinds of domestically produced vegetables, namely pumpkin, spinach, tomato, and carrot. Their gentle taste makes them a great snack for babies and toddlers, as they melt in the mouth and don’t need any teeth to be enjoyed. They’re even nutritious, and the lack of notorious allergenic ingredients ranks them high among parents. This rice cracker variety has gained popularity abroad, as it is a safe treat for children of very young ages.
#6. Kameda no Kaki no Tane, Wasabi
Kameda’s Kaki no Tane Wasabi is, as its name suggests, the wasabi-flavored version of the all-time classic.
Kaki no Tane is an iconic snack in Japan. The name means “persimmon seeds” because this rice cracker variety resembles the long seeds very closely. Of course, each persimmon variety has slightly different seeds and the namesake for these rice crackers is said to have been a sweet variety such as the Okozu persimmon variety of Niigata Prefecture.
The crunchy seed-shaped rice crackers are made with a wonderfully spicy wasabi powder from Nagano’s Azumino area, bringing a nice kick of pungency to your tongue and nose. Combined with the savory peanuts, the Japanese rice crackers are somewhat milder, and you’ll be astounded just how quickly one full bag is gone! Those who enjoy radish and wasabi must try this treat in particular and the kaki no Tane Wasabi are a great souvenir to bring the taste of Japan home with you.
Bonus: this classic rice cracker snack also comes in other iconic flavors, such as soy sauce, ume and perilla, and with a sweet chocolate coating.
#5. Pota Pota-Yaki
Pota Pota-Yaki is one of the most representative rice cracker varieties of Kameda Seika. First released in 1986, the product is still loved for more than 30 years, immediately recognizable by the adorable Grandma on the packaging. Baked with plenty of sweet soy sauce, the texture is crisp and every bite is a wonderful crunch. They feature no chemical seasoning whatsoever and they’re remembered by generations of Japanese people as the sweet flavor of their childhood. “Carefully baked by Grandma” is an image most often associated with them. Give them a try and fall in love yourself!
#4. Kameda no Kaki no Tane
Kameda Seika’s Kaki no Tane is a best-seller known all around the country. Gently spicy and with a heart crunch, the harmony of peanut and rice cracker is astoundingly delicious! Make sure to eat them together for the best flavor results.
Japanese people like to debate the ratio between peanuts and rice crackers in one bag. How many arare rice crackers, how many peanuts make Kaki no Tane the tastiest? Everyone eats this snack slightly different, further showing just how much of a staple it is – a true Japanese national snack!
Kameda Seika was wondering about the ratio as well and asked the people of Japan about their thoughts. Here’s the result from 2013!
National survey about the ratio of peanuts and rice crackers in Kaki no Tane:
- 7:3 28.5％ (Rice crackers:peanuts, ratio)
- 5:5 23.9％ (Rice crackers:peanuts, ratio)
- 6:4 20.0％ (Rice crackers:peanuts, ratio)
Source: Kameda Seika “Kameka no Kaki no Tane Ratio National Survey” (2013, total of 105,484 votes)
The classic Kameda no Kaki no Tane is blended at a cracker to :peanut ratio of 6:4. Why don’t you find out how you like them best?
Otsumami is a Japanese word describing snacks usually enjoyed with a drink. This assortment brings you 10 different rice snacks, neatly packaged into little bags that can be shared or savored all by yourself. The small packaging also allows them to sit in your bag and be shared among friends on a day out.
One bag includes Japanese rice crackers flavored with edamame, grilled shrimp, seafood-flavored beans, “umakuchi mame” balls, flavored sardine, shrimp crackers, squid flavor, black bean arare, dry seaweed-rolled, and roasted peanuts. It’s a selection of 10 iconic flavors that take your taste buds on a wild ride through the world of rice crackers. If you manage to point out all the different crackers and their flavors, you’re well on your way to become a rice cracker expert!
#2. Happy Turn
Here’s another iconic rice cracker product of Kameda Seika: Happy Turn! From children enjoying these at parties or as a snack from adults taking a break with this savory delight, everyone loves these crunchy bits. If there’s some sort of party going on, you can be sure to find Happy Turn popping up as a snack!
The name of this snack has a curious backstory. It expresses the desire to return (Turn) happiness (Happy) to the company’s customers. The secret to these Japanese rice crackers’ popularity is the flavor coating, also called the “magic powder.” The surface of each Happy Turn is generously covered in this sweet-and-salty powder, sticking to the cracker but not to your fingers! With its candy-like packaging, it brings a dash of cuteness to your rice cracker experience.
The Happy Turn variety with 250% of the “magic powder!”
Happy Turn is also fun to snack. The regular crackers have a long shape but from time to time, you’ll come across a heart-shaped one! That’s the Heart Happy and whenever a bag of Happy Turn is opened, someone is looking forward to discovering the little tasty heart inside.
This is Turn Prince, the mascot of Happy Turn.
These are the bags in which Heart Happy are hidden:
Powder 250% Happy Turn (50g), Happy Turn (67g), and Happy Turn Mini 4 Bags
#1. Kameda no Kaki no Tane Milk Chocolate
We’ve already talked about Kaki no Tane, but our number one recommendation is Kameda Seika’s Kaki no Tane Milk Chocolate! Apparently, there were test sales of the chocolate-coated rice crackers at domestic airports that have been a massive success!
The soy sauce-flavored rice crackers and their gentle spiciness match mellow milk chocolate ridiculously well, to a point where you won’t be able to stop until the bag is empty. Crispy but sweet, they are an excellent match with coffee or a cup of tea. The cute package designs are an eyecatcher as well and they come in various flavor varieties, including strawberry chocolate and white chocolate. Needless to say, these are amazing souvenirs as well!
Kaki no Tane also boasts plenty of limited varieties, local varieties, and more, so keep your eyes open for unique flavors during your travels!
Kameda Seika’s Japanese rice cracker snacks are loved by both young and old all around Japan, rightfully earning the title of representative snacks of Japan. The traditional taste promises to be an all-new gourmet experience, whether you enjoy the crackers on the go or take some home as souvenirs for friends and family. Step into the world of Japan’s authentic rice crackers and taste your way through all the flavors!
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