[CALBEE] Eel Kabayaki

Calbee brand started in 1949 as Matsuo Food Processing Co., Ltd. was incorporated to succeed Matsuo Food Industry, in Hiroshima. Their message is Let your body absorb the life force of nature. Fresh and delicious, food that makes the most of the flavors
and nutrition of natural ingredients. Here at Calbee, we will continuously consider, seek out and give shape to the possibilities that nature’s gifts bring to the realm of food so that
we can continuously bring you exciting surprises and fun.

“Harvest the Power of Nature”

Very commendable and provoking. They have many different and unique flavours of crisps for different regions. I.e Korea has Pizza and Honey Butter, Singapore has Snow Pea, Philippines has Jagabee Potato Fries Cheese, and Indonesia has Grilled Seaweed. The United Kingdoms has some pretty bog standard and stereotypical ‘ASIAN’ flavours from Calbee such as Sweet Chilli & Lemon and Soy & Balsamic Vinegar. And this is exactly why I decided to try this flavour. Kabayaki Eel.

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So, what exactly is Kabayaki Eel?

Kabayaki (蒲焼?) is a preparation of fish, especially unagi eel,[1] where the fish is split down the back[2] (or belly), gutted and boned, butterflied, cut into square fillets, skewered, and dipped in a sweet soy sauce-based sauce before being broiled on a grill.

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Packaging – A feast for the eyes?

The packaging is uninspiring. The initial thoughts when scouring the isles of my local Asian grocery store was that the bright red and brown packaging would mean BBQ, heat and a deep meaty flavour. I saw the grilled meat/fish image at the bottom which intrigued me but I only discovered this was Eel flavoured once I checked the back.  Sometimes I like pictures of the food on packaging and sometimes I don’t. I am getting windows 95 word art vibes from this packaging, you know, that rainbow blocked word art you would use as a header for your school work and think to yourself ‘I’ll get an A just for this header looking so boss‘ look, and unfortunately because this is not the early 90’s….that’s not good.

I feel this is a cheaper brand. Most definitely not a ‘posh crisp’ or a premium brand.

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Flavour for the senses?

The smell did hit me as soon as I opened the package…which took quite some effort. It took me a lot of strain to open this packet and the results were rather mixed. The smell was initially sweet and slightly smokey. The first taste was good, a subtle honey like sweetness with a light BBQ smokey flavour. There is no fishy taste, but I suspect Eel is more of a meaty flavour much like Mackerel. I have never had Eel so I am merely guessing. There is a slight flavour that I am unaware of and I think this is probably Eel which is Ok but I was very aware of this mystery flavour despite it being so minor compared to the sweetness coming through. The corn flavour of the crisp was also present.

 

There is a light smattering of spices over the crisps but the crisp itself is light and airy. With corn chips they do not have enough surface area to really hit your tongue with flavour and they are not as crunchy as a potato crisp but they are still enjoyable.

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Does it taste good?

Initially, Yes. I did continue to eat but at leisure. I did not tear into them with reckless abandon, and I did not throw them away. The sweetness kept pulling me back but that mystery flavour I assume is the Eel flavour kept pushing me away. These are more sweet flavour than anything and the packaging did not represent that. I expected heat, spice and sweetness but these seem more like honey crisps with a slight BBQ Eel flavour. The smell is the best thing about these and the taste second. I can’t confirm if these are true to taste as I have never eaten Eel but I expected something different.

 

I had my pack with a Pepsi max which didn’t quite work, but beer or wine would not match well. Coke or regular Pepsi would be best.

20170305_125658The Ratio of product to package is approx 2:3

Pros Cons
 Nice and Sweet Aroma

Surprising Flavour

Mixed Messages Regarding Flavour

Expensive Due to Import

Boring Packaging

Going back for more?

I want to be clear, the Eel flavour is not bad, I just had this niggling at the back of my mind about it and it stopped me from finishing the pack. So yes, it does taste good but for me its not my cup of tea and I will likely not repurchase these again. The smell is lovely but does not represent what you should be getting.

Are they all that and a bag of chips?

    C+

 14/20      Taste  15/20   Flavour  13/20  Moreish  15/20        Ratio  10/20  Packaging
Total:  67/100

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