Feature Image by Francesca Poggi
If you regularly follow the Arigato Japan blog, you’ll know that Bokksu is one of their amazing partners, and if you’ve seen my Holiday Japan Inspired Gift Guide for Christmas 2021 blog post, you’ll know how much I love this company.
I’ve known about Bokksu for quite some time. I discovered them while I was watching a popular YouTube couple talking about this fabulous subscription box with carefully selected snacks from all over Japan. I’d never tried a Japanese snack before so, when I had the chance to review not only their snacks, but their limited-edition holiday box too, I was jumping for joy. Add in the fact that their December theme is called Hokkaido Holidays (Hokkaido is one of the regions I want to visit the most) and I couldn’t have been luckier.
Their limited-edition box is called Kiribako, and it’s a handcrafted wooden box named after its maker, Masuda Kiribako. The box comes with a sliding lid, and it’s made with Paulownia wood, which naturally keeps out humidity. There is also a card with instructions on how to care for the box, which is great because I intend to keep it forever.
Now, I am very excited to finally talk about their December theme: Hokkaido Holidays.
There is a beautifully designed booklet which contains an introduction of the theme, as well as information about each snack, including details about the food and who made them. Something I found really useful (and I don’t know if it’s always been there because this was my first box) was the inclusion of Japanese winter words, so I can learn the language while I’m tasting the sweet and spicy snacks. Very cool!
As you have probably guessed, most of the snacks in this box come from the beautiful (and very cold) region of Hokkaido in northern Japan.
JAGA CHOCO POTATO CHIPS – WHITE CHOCOLATE: If you’ve ever dipped french fries into a milkshake, you’ll know how well chocolate and potato go together! Thick potato chips are covered in chocolate that pools in each ridge of the chip, for an unbeatable sweet and savory party. I could taste the sweet more, rather than the salty, but it’s definitely a snack I would purchase again because it was very tasty!
YUBARI MELON CHOCOLATE LANGUE DE CHAT: Langue de Chat are biscuit-like cookies with sweet cream in the middle. The name means “cat’s tongue,” and refers to the treat’s cute shape. The cream is flavored with juicy yubari melon, or cantaloupe! I am not particularly fond of melon, but the cream tasted like a very frothy smoothie, and it was really delicious!
WHITE PEACH KIBI DANGO MOCHI: This pink treat is called kibi dango, which means it is made with millet or kibi. Peach is a popular flavor for kibi dango because it’s associated with Japanese folk-hero Momotaro, or “Peach Boy”. I could immediately smell peaches as soon as I opened the package – it was like having a peach iced tea in summer! The texture of the mochi was like a gelatine candy, and the taste of peaches was very light, making this a very good combination.
FUJIYA MILKY MOCHI: This mochi is a chewy collaboration with Fujiya Milky, a popular candy in Japan known for its sweet, creamy flavor and its iconic mascot, Peko-Chan. Inside the soft mochi is a layer of marshmallow and a creamy condensed milk filling, making this the perfect winter treat. It’s safe to say that this was my favourite snack. It was very milky, and the taste of marshmallow was very sweet. For some reason, this reminded me of the bubblegum I used to chew when I was a child, so tasting this snack felt extra special!
WASABEY YAMA-WASABI RICE CRACKER: We can always count on wasabi to spice up our lives! Yama-wasabi is a kind of horseradish that’s cultivated in Hokkaido, and it lends a fiery hit to this salty treat. Share this cracker with your own wasa-bae!
YAKI-IMO SWEET POTATO COOKIE: Feel the warmth and coziness of a cookie made with yaki-imo, or roasted Japanese sweet potato! I love how the crispy cookie gives way to a mild yet impactful sweet potato flavor. Enjoy with some warm Toukibicha Tea! I don’t know how they achieved it, but this cookie tasted like warm baked potato. It was a very savoury surprise!
FUNWARI MEIJIN MOCHI PUFFS – HOKKAIDO MILK: Light as air and snow-white, these milky mochi puffs look like fluffy snowflakes. Slightly sweet and creamy, this delicious snack is made with a secret process, transforming domestic Japanese mochi rice into the crisp and airy texture of this cloud-like confection. This limited-edition snack is made with milk from Hokkaido which is revered for its dairy products! Indeed it was very airy, but what surprised me the most was the aftertaste of caramelised sugar. Mouthwatering!
MIKE POPCORN – BUTTER SOY SAUCE FLAVOUR: Mike Popcorn was Japan’s first domestic popcorn brand, selling popcorn from stalls at amusement parks in 1957. This particular flavor has Hokkaido butter and soy sauce for a one-two punch of umami! Although it smelled like regular popcorn, the true secret is in the taste. The flavour of the soy sauce mixed well with the butter and it gave a new meaning to the sweet and salty taste!
HOKKAIDO YOICHI APPLE GUMMY: These bouncy gummies are full of apple-y flavor! This Hokkaido-based maker incorporated juicy apples from Yoichi Town, Hokkaido, known for its delectable apples.
TOUKIBI CORN CHOCOLATE: Who knew corn and chocolate would make such a lovely pairing? Hokkaido’s toukibi corn is top-notch, so maker Romance Seika created these corn puffs, enrobed in corn flavored chocolate. How cute is it that the packaging looks like corn? Another very delicious snack! The texture was like a Rice Krispie treat, it was very airy, and if there’s one thing this delectable box has taught me, it’s that white chocolate tastes absolutely amazing with salty snacks!
KINAKO AND BLACK SESAME SOFT CANDY: Kinako (roasted soybean flour) and black sesame team up for this incredibly chewy treat! Maker Romance Seika blends these nutty flavors with creamy Hokkaido milk for a mellow and well-balanced snack. I loved this nutty snack! It was very chewy and reminded me of caramel candies.
JAGA POKKURU: Jaga Pokkuru is made from 100% high-quality Hokkaido-grown potatoes. They’re cut and processed using a unique method to achieve this snack’s signature crispy texture. I’ve never had a potato snack with peel on, so I was a little bit skeptical, but I was proven wrong and it was actually very good! It was really crispy, and there was a hint of vinegar which made the taste strong and tangy.
TOUKIBICHA TEA: Maker North Fleet creates this tea in Touyako Town, Hokkaido using a special type of sweet corn called Gold Rush. You’ll find a little tea goes a long way: one bag can make 500 ml, or two mugs worth of tea!
Overall, I’m extremely happy with the December box, the snacks were scrumptious and I got to discover new flavours that go well together.
If reading about all these flavourful snacks made you hungry, don’t wait any longer and subscribe to Bokksu! You can also read our interview with the founder and, if you are based in the US, you can check out their new online store Bokksu Grocery and have Japanese pantry items and ingredients delivered right to your door!