Japanese Snack Food Review: Ame no shu


Here’s another offering from the Deluxe Japanese Basket of Ultimate Doom. According to Rob (who kindly translated this for me. Yay Rob!) Ame-no-shu has a sub heading of Sugar Glazed Rice Cookie. Hmmmmmm, Sugar Glazed Rice Cookie. I’d like to step back and ponder the implications of the descriptive nomenclature for a bit, if you don’t mind. Specifically the words “sugar”, “cookie” and a little bit on “glazed”. If someone handed you, a sugar glazed cookie…what would you expect? If you speak the Queen’s English, substitute “biscuit” for “cookie” and come join us on this journey of discovery. I think we’re mostly all on the same page with sugar glazed cookie/biscuit in expecting some sort of flatish, sweetish, bready bakery treat drizzled with a sweet coating of something. Right? I mean…sugar (sweet), sugar-glazed (sweet coating…actually I’m assuming the pairing here but I think it makes sense to think of these fellas as sugar-glazed rice cookies – or even sugar-glazed rice-cookies. Either or), cookie (baked goods on the sweetish side).

Now, if someone handed you an Ame-no-shu; Sugar Glazed Rice Cookie what you would have is…nothing described above. Well, except for the glaze. They are glazed. I expected “rice cookie” to maybe be a cookie like thing (Chips Ahoy, any Pepperidge Farm offering, Oreos, gingerbread men, etc. et. al and all) but made with rice flour. I’ve even had cookies made with rice flour instead of wheat flour and they aren’t bad. A little strange tasting to my palate but not bad over all.

This is not a cookie made with rice flour but rather more a puffed rice patty thing. If you can imagine a Quaker Rice cake (or any rice cake of that ilk) but instead of being made with a bunch of puffed rice stuck together they somehow managed to process the rice into a homogenous rice patty plank and then puff it, you might be close to understanding the composition of these. I’m likening it to potato chips made from a pressed potato slurry (Pringles come to mind), except this is a puffed rice slurry. Or potentially one huge, disc shaped grain of rice that has been puffed, but I sort of doubt that.

The structure is odd but intriguing; I’ve never come across a puffed rice slurry patty plank before. It’s light and pleasingly crunchy and ricey. It’s also rather quite tasty in a bland rice cake type manner. I could munch on these for a while and enjoy their crunchy rice blandness. True, they aren’t special but they aren’t bad and taste better than packing peanuts and far superior to any rice Host I’ve partaken of. They also taste better than a plain rice cake. And they have neat toasted lines on the bottoms. Go Sugar Glazed Rice Cakes!

They are also glazed. I haven’t expounded upon this yet because the glaze was perhaps the nail in these fella’s coffin and I wanted to give them a fair trial before shooting them down. The glaze is a weird mix of slightly sweet and surprisingly salty. Say like one of those bad, salty glazed hams (but without the meat taste). The glaze is just a little sweet before the salt takes over and starts running your taste buds. It’d be an interesting flavor for a savory snack and perhaps rate high on tasty saltiness, but the hint of sweet and light crunch of the rice cake just never got on board with the savory salty. There was no harmony to be found in the flavors offered and that was distracting. One of my Guinea Pigs told me, “I could live a long time without ever having this again” and my favorite Guinea Pig absolutely refused to have any more than a bite. I, on the other hand, rather liked their weirdness and another Guinea Pig said that Ame-no-shu was not as bad as other stuff I’ve made her try.

Are these good? Not for any definition of the word ‘good’ that I have come across. Are they bad? Welllll…that depends really on your point of view. They certainly are interesting and I thought they were uniquely palatable but my Guinea Pigs were very firm about a low rating. Sigh. So, giving into Pig peer pressure (under duress and about half a pea lower than I thought they deserved), I grant Ame-no-shu; Sugar Glazed Rice Cookies a


of 2 Wasabi Peas out of a possible 5.

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