I ordered this item as it is packaged in the "Gifts" category along with a Tea, but these OKAKI rice crackers are very nice, even on their own. First off, the box they come packed in is extra sturdy, the lid is decorated nicely with calligraphy and lifts up and open from the front (it stays attatched at the back) to actually make quite a lovely and surprising presentation of the snacks inside. You are able to firmly close the box with a sturdy tab. (As I said, this box is a very sturdy and quite an elegant construction considering it is made from cardboard and can be re-used long after you finish the individually wrapped treats inside since the box stays clean. In fact, I still have mine, using it for miscellaneous things.)
Once opened, the still surprising attention to this obviously gourmet snack is realized even further. I have to say that this is high end snacking! :) Each type/flavor of OKAKI is individually wrapped in six different resealable plastic, clear bags which allow the visual unique characteristics of each to immediately be seen. They are labeled with their type/flavor along, something too cute- each has a different colored bow tied where the bag is sealed off! A surpringly high-end and seriously dignified snack presentation! I had never had any OKAKI before I decided to order and try this (I LOVE the sweet confections HIBIKI-AN offers and regularly order them, but I wanted to try something savory and different, and it was a great idea) so I have nothing to compare the quality and/or taste differences to. But, I will say that these will probably spoil you and I, for one, would not order any other OKAKI besides these, especially since they are made with our Health in mind (Premium Ingredients, NATURAL Food Color, etc.
Each resealable bag holds about 3 snack servings each, but they can easily go fast because they taste so great and are a welcome diversion from the regular crispy snacks. When you first open each, you are always greeted by the delicious aroma of each unique flavor's spices and contents. On to my reviews of the different types and flavors--
NORI MAKI (Seaweed Roll): (This one comes with about 4 small rolls that are each separately sealed inside their already individual, larger sealed pack which I thought was nice to keep their texture and taste fine and fresh.) HIBIKI-AN states NORI MAKI is one of the most popular OKAKI, and I understand why since it is one of my own favorites now, too. Seasoned with Miso and the citrusy taste of Yuzu which compliments dried laver seaweed (which is much higher quality and flavor than seaweed usually used for OKAKI.) They create excellent harmony with a very fresh smelling seafood aroma with savory taste wrapped around a crunchy roll. These were never stale or off-putting to me, and I was worried a little about that happening with the seafood themed flavors.
MASAGO ISHI (Charbroiled Savor):
This is another one of my favorites! I definitely appreciate Fujisawa’s original technique developed in order to bring out the inherent excellent flavor and a savory aroma of MOCHI rice cake in these crunchy treats which are seasoned only by salt.
Ginger used with this OKAKI has a strong fine aroma and is definitely NOT masked by the strong OKAKI flavor since the breed used in this OKAKI ranges from over 4 to 10 times higher than usual ginger. HIBIKI-AN states that before finding this excellent breed of ginger, Mr. Fujisawa had not been successful at creating ginger OKAKI, but now, this is one of the most popular items at Fujisawa Eiseido, and it is tasty but I tend to get heartburn INCREDIBLY easily and bad so this was not one of my favorites. If the ginger was a tad lighter I would be able to enjoy the unique flavor more. But this is still obviously made using a very fine spice and with attention to creating a delightful taste, I just can't handle it with my stomach! If you like Ginger, you'll love this one!
KOMBU (Dried Kelp):
As I said before, I was a little worried about the seafood flavors but once again, this is a favorite! KOMBU dried kelp is kneaded into the MOCHI rice cake dough, and to bring out the excellent flavor of highest quality KOMBU dried kelp, this OKAKI is seasoned only with soy sauce. A simple but satisfying flavor when you crave a salty, crispy snack that has an added aroma of fresh kelp and the ocean.
Although I rarely eat shrimp in any way due to the innability of proper preparations, even at quite expensive restaurants, or perhaps the quality of the shrimp, I was yet again pleasantly and highly surprised to taste this OKAKI and realize a seafood type was again a favorite. I'm especially impressed with the care that went into this flavor's preparation since only the best quality shrimp are used and they retain their natural color so the maker never uses any artificial food dyes or colors! There is no bitter taste. I really should not be surprised that the seafood OKAKI were very great tasting since Japan is known for it's wonderful seafood and since this item is being offerred by HIBIKI-AN, who only offer Truly the best!
As stated by HIBIKI-AN, this is developed in the motif of autumn maple in Kyoto. The natural purple color is from a very special Japanese sweet potato grown in Kagoshima prefecture. Much potato is kneaded into the MOCHI dough, so each bite is a delicious burst of sweet potato flavor. This production method of kneading the potato into the dough is not commonly used because it is not easy and requires much time and effort. These are also loved by me, although they are more sweet than savory. I have never eaten anything quite like it and admit this bag was one of the very first to be emptied. It is so cute and pleasing to the eye and a very different but delicious way to enjoy a crispy snack. It is not overly sweet, it is definitely not like a candy. I really like this one! I'm thankful the maker is still willing to use the required extra Time and effort that is required to produce this OKAKI since it is not commonly used because it's not just easy and fast!
I am glad I took the chance to try these and thanks to HIBIKI-AN for offerring them, along with details about the making of each. I Honestly would not hesitate to leave this box sitting out on the counter, even if it were open, because the presentation is definitely a wonderfully neat, and tidy display. You'll never have to worry about wrapping an old rubberband around a torn and crumb spilling generic, obnoxiously colored, and so obviously unhealthy bag of half eaten snack product and throwing/hiding it away in your cupboard with these top notch OKAKI rice crackers! And the "guilt factor" is totally reduced to nothing knowing that the maker of this OKAKI is Truly dedicated to a definitely delicious, beautiful to just see, HANDMADE OKAKI Snack using only PREMIUM and NATURAL COLORS and ingredients! I am so happy that there are still people who will go that "extra mile" in the interests of producing a quality product and who are still familiar with and embrace traditional methods, especially in food items, since we should all remember to take care of our bodies and minds and be knowledgable and care about what we allow ourselves to ingest! A HUGE THANK YOU TO THE MANUFACTURER OF THIS PRODUCT! AND to HIBIKI-AN for once again sharing this awesome treat with the World to enjoy alongside your wonderful Teas!! NEXT,I WANT TO TRY THE NEW BEAN SNACK RECENTLY OFFERRED!