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Japanese Convenience Store Snack Review: Potato Chip Surprise

Welcome to our fourth round of our Japanese convenience store roundup, where we find bizarre and unusual snacks, candy and drinks in the aisles of our local convenience store. (You can review our first, second and third reports here).

Since there's been a bounty of new potato chips popping up on convenience store shelves these past few weeks, we decided to sample some unusual chips that will surprise you in various ways.

Let's get started!

Samurai Burger Potato Chips

From Yamayoshi, the folks who brought you Cream Soda flavored potato chips which we featured in our last round, comes a new contender for the title of eccentric potato chip. According to the text on the package, Samurai Burger Potato Chips are teriyaki burger flavor. Not just teriyaki sauce, not just teriyaki chicken or beef, teriyaki burger. Let that sit in your mind for a while. You'd think the taste of burger buns would also be featured since they went out of their way to call it teriyaki burger flavor but trying to get a potato chip to taste like bread is like trying to get Worcestershire Sauce to taste like tonkatsu sauce. They just have too much in common.

Truth be told, the buns aren't included in the flavor profile of these chips, only the teriyaki sauce and the beef patty. But teriyaki burger flavor sounds more exciting than simple teriyaki. And calling them Samurai Burger Potato Chips even more exciting than that, because we all know that samurai loved to eat teriyaki burgers back in the Edo Period. If you disagree, that tough-looking red samurai at the top of the package seems ready to teach you otherwise.

Taste-wise, the chips are actually quite good. Crispy, a medium-thick cut, with a strong teriyaki sauce taste and a hint of beef flavor in the background. They probably go well with beer. Compared to the odd name and anachronistic use of burgers (unless that's supposed to be Samurai Jack on the package), the chips are quite normal.

Suppa Mucho Strong Potato Chips

These days, the word "STRONG" (preferably in uppercase letters) is popular in convenience store shelves. Originally used for chu-hi coolers with 9% alcohol, the word jumped over to a brand of carbonated water with strong carbonation and then to a brand of intensely flavored potato chips by Koikeya. In addition to salt and black pepper, sour cream and onion, and spicy spare ribs flavor, the STRONG line also has intensely flavored versions of their popular Karamucho spicy snacks and chips, as well as their Suppamucho sour chips and snack products.

These Suppa Mucho STRONG Potato Chips are labeled as having a "splashed vinegar" flavor, but you can think of them as salt and vinegar chips. And as far as salt and vinegar chips go, these chips pack a powerful pucker-inducing punch. STRONG indeed!

Just look at those ridges filled with flavor crystals. If you love salt and vinegar, you are most definitely well served with these chips. Strongly recommended.

Natto Potato Chips

Technically, their full name is "Natto-Lovers' Natto Flavor Potato Chips." They aren't kidding. If you abhor this fermented dish made with soy beans the way our grape Japan writer Jess does, then these chips, which she reviewed earlier this week, are an abomination deserving to burn in the fiery depths of hell. However, for those who love natto, these chips are a delicious treat.

The chips are already mildly flavored with natto, along with a touch of that Japanese mustard and dashi-soy sauce seasoning which natto lovers will immediately recognize as the condiments usually included in packs of natto. However, the reason these chips are truly for natto lovers is the extra seasoning packet attached to the front of the package.

Take a peek inside and you'll see tiny flakes of natto waiting to be sprinkled onto the chips.

Now you just close the bag, give it a few good shakes, and voila!

The flakes are there! Bite into a chip, and you'll first notice the nutty flavor of natto. Then, as the mustard and dashi-soy sauce seasoning kicks in, you'll also notice the mildly viscous texture as well. It's probably the next best thing to having your natto for breakfast. In fact, I wouldn't mind betting that the natto flakes would make a nice topping on rice in a pinch!

By - Ben K.