WOWBox specializes in delivering snacks and treats directly from Japan.
Their successful original box has consistently been popular - and for good reason.
Their boxes contain authentic items that are impossible to get any other way - unless you live in Japan!
Two new boxes have been under development at WOWBOX HQ - a Prefecture box and a Health & Beauty box.
I received both boxes to review.
Because they're themed differently - and stuffed with tons of goodies - it would be too much to review both in one article.
The new boxes are just as authentic as their original box, but each takes on a different profile of Japanese snacks.
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Today I want to show your the WOWBOX "Prefecture" box.
But, before we go any further - what is prefecture?
Like counties in the USA, a Japanese prefecture is a neighborhood or area. That's where the similarities stop, though.
Each Japanese prefecture has it's own government and each prefecture varies in the types of food available - some have markets, some have modern stores, some have both.
The prefecture box for this review is filled with snacks form Fukuoka.
Kyushu is Japan's third larges island and Fukuoka is it's largest city.
It's full of modern buildings and high-tech structures, but it also has a historical side with ancient temples and shrines.
WOWBOX wanted to capture the kinds of snacks everyday people would buy in Fukuoka and showcase some of it's most popular treats.
Fukuoka is known for it's high quality and fresh mentaiko or cod roe. This is a bit different than typical American food so hold on here!
Cod roe is the fully ripe internal egg masses from the ovaries of a cod.
Sometimes it's confused with caviar, but it's not. It's served as a side with many dishes, hot or cold, and included in snack bars like senbeis, or rice crackers.
It only took about a week (including a weekend) for the box to be shipped and delivered.
It travelled 6,253 miles! That's amazing.
WOWBOX ships boxes with DHL and you can opt for contactless delivery - they'll leave the box at your doorstep - or require a signature where DHL will keep the box until someone at the delivery address physically receives the package.
Let's get into the unboxing and see what we have!
The box is packed well - with those air pocket things that protects against hard impacts.
All the items came in perfect condition, no crumbling, melting or squishing.
Right off the bat I was surprised at the variety and quantity of items. I wasn't 100% sure what to expect and thought it may only be a few sample novelty things.
It wasn't that.
WOWBOX includes 13 full size items in this Prefecture box and several of them are more than one serving.
Let's check out the entire box so you can see all the items you'll get.
#1 Mentai Rusk Crackers
Local to Fukuok, made in the province of Ishigama, Fukuok, mentai rusk is a sort of spicy shortbread that has a crispy texture.
On top of the crispy bread, the bakers added mentaiko (cod roe) and cream.
These can be eaten alone as a snack, or with cheese spread or hummus.
These are quite mild taste wise, I was wondering if they had more of a punch with them being individually wrapped and bright packaging.
They would be ideal for spreading cream cheese and chive dip on top - I don't think that would be very Japanese though!
They have a faint ocean taste - it's hard to determine exactly what - but it's pleasant and keeps you coming back for an extra bite.
#2 Amaou Strawberry Kirara Sandwich Cookie
These cookies are full of fruit and flavor.
Each one has a layer of fresh fluffy strawberry cream sandwiched between two, crisp pink strawberry cookies.
The creamy layer in the middle has a sprinkling of crunchy corn flakes and freeze dried Amaou strawberries.
Amaou strawberries are exclusive to Fukuoka and are locally known as the "king of sweet".
The Fukuoka strawberries are famous throughout Japan as the naturally sweetest fruit grown there.
This is also a vegetarian snack bar.
Wow these are fun!
Creamy, crunchy strawberry goodness.
As soon as I opened the wrapper, I could smell strawberry.
There's a middle layer of......it's like creamy, velvety crunchy rich strawberry insaneness.
It's all sandwiched between two crunchy layers of strawberry infused cookies.
Even after I finished my bite of this strawberry madness cookie, my mouth was coated with fresh strawberry taste.
The middle of it is like a strawberry milkshake that's been folded with strawberry mousse cheesecake and sprinkled with crunchy cornflakes for a change of texture.
So happy WOWBOX included this on. You need to try for yourself!
#3 Karatsu Lemon Cake
Lemons grown at Karatsu Urada Farm in Japan are harvested and minced into a aromatic and flavorful puree.
The cake is moist and has an unmistakable fresh lemon fragrance and hints of bitterness and sourness that lemons are known for.
To mellow the bitterness out a bit, honey is added to the recipe. The combination is a rich, deep flavor with the bright notes of lemon that you'd expect.
Wow, this one I like a lot.
Right after opening the packet the lemon cupcake came in I immediately was hit with a wall of fresh lemon.
It just smells like a lemon had been cut open. It's easy to tell the difference between imitation lemon and the real thing. This is real!
When you bite into it, the lemon fragrance turns into flavor. It's not overpowering or very strong at all - it's just the right amount of lemon.
The frosting on top is a rich lemon taste where as the cake underneath is more balanced and helps the depth of the flavors work together.
It wouldn't be much fun to eat if it was all super tart, sour lemon.
They've got this one spot on and I would definitely buy this again.
It would go WONDERFULLY with coffee or tea!
#4 Tirolian (Strawberry, Mango, Green Tea)
Tirolian are traditional biscuit rolls from Austria. They became popular in Japan where they eventually took on a new flavor profile that locals enjoy.
They're crispy on the outside and made with fresh milk, cream and fruits like strawberries and mangos.
Each roll is a single serving, so they're perfect for snacking on.
I had three flavors in the box I received:
- Amaou Strawberry
- Gyokuro green tea
Here's what the strawberry Tirolian looks like:
So I'm learning that Japanese snacks do strawberries really, really well.
This is the strawberry Tirolian, its got a crunchy outer cookie layer that's wrapped around a velvety smooth, rich creamy strawberry mousse.
It's not frosting.....it's too mousse-y, light and creamy.
Again, my mouth was coated with a delightful strawberry flavor long after I finished my bite. It's so rich.
There's no aftertaste of artificial sweeteners at all.
Another one I would buy again.
These are two, maybe...maybe three bite rolls. Excellent for a quick sweet fix.
#5 Marshmallow Chocolate Candies
Normally (at least on this side of the planet) I think we'd see these candies the other way around - chocolate with a marshmallow filling, but these are Japanese!
Fluffy marshmallow wraps around dark chocolate centers for an indulgent sweet treat. The sweetness of the marshmallow is balanced with the smooth, dark chocolate centers.
On the back of the package there's three ideas how else you could use the candies.
- Put them in a cup of hot milk and make the most epic hot chocolate with marshmallow floaties
- Put them on toast and grill the tops so they get all melty and gooey
- Add a few to cereal as a way to liven up the same old flavor.
There's also a gift tag attached to the bag of these candies, I didn't know if it was from WOWBOX or if the candies normally come with it.
It was blank, so maybe it's a thing that these candy producers add on so you can gift it to someone?
I'll have to do some more research about that.
Let's give one a try!
So I know the photo above with the marshmallow cut in half isn't super super appetizing, but these taste amazing and we need to get them in stores here now.
When I first unwrapped one - each is individually wrapped - I noticed how soft the marshmallow was.
I'm used to somewhat firmer marshmallows - like the Peeps we have in the USA, but these were so soft. So much that I had a hard time cutting one in half without it all squishing together.
I think that is a sign of freshness.
In the center is milky rich chocolate.
It tastes just like the chocolate you'd get from the center of an M&M's candy. It blends perfectly with the smooth marshmallow and are delicious.
Japan's got it going on in the snack and candy department for sure.
#6 Mentai Senbei Cracker Snacks
There's a lot of things happening with these crackers.
To make them, they start with locally sourced white rice that's minced and fried for a crispy texture.
They add several different types into the recipe of rice grains for a more complex taste and even add small shrimp for that extra flavor boost.
They aren't done there.
In the middle of the crispy cracker a dollop of mentaiko - cod roe - adds even more depth of texture and flavor. There's a slight hint of spice also.
These little snack crackers really pack a punch. They put the boring bland "Ritz" crackers available in the US to shame.
These have an interesting flavor and texture. They're very much a savory snack and you can definitely tell it contains seafood from the sort of fishy kind of smell I got when I opened the packet and took a bite.
No surprises there - it's got minced shrimp and cod roe in it.
It's quite a complex flavor - with multiple different types of rice, salty, ocean, savory and even spicy. It really has a unique texture because of the different grains of rice used.
It's an interesting flavor and worth trying, there's really nothing like this in the United States.
[side note]: I'm STILL tasting the strawberry flavors from the candies I sampled earlier in this review. Japan is serious about their strawberries!
The verdict - should you buy?
The Prefecture box from WOWBOX opens the door for people across the other side of the planet to sample local Japanese foods and learn about the culture and tastes that occur everyday Japan.
The selection you'll receive will be dependent upon which prefecture - or neighborhood - they're featuring that month.
Japan is an incredibly diverse country and this is the only true way to authentically sample what normal Japanese people eat.
WOWBOX is a fun box and one to get if you are bored of the typical things you'd find at the grocery stores. There are some items that sound familiar - strawberry with cream - but there's also items that will completely throw you off - like mentaiko!
And even those flavors that you think you already know - just like the strawberries - they take on a much deeper, richer flavor and has to be experienced to understand.
The Prefecture box is full of quality, full size Japanese snacks and would make an great treat for yourself or an awesome gift for someone who loves to travel or explore.
You can get this box from WOWBOX for $47. They often have discount codes, promotions and special offers so check back frequently.
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