No matter how many subscription boxes we review, it always surprises me that there are so many different products from Japan and Korea that we have never heard of. From crisps, drinks, candy and the new popular DIY kits, there is an abundance of goodies to be explored. Okashi Connection (meaning Candy Connection) operate out of Chiba, Japan and is run by Adam and Jennifer. Both are married to Japanese partners and have their own families so they can both safely say they are connected to the life and culture of Japan. But as foreigners, they still have that specific sense for what kind of things are new and fresh to people outside of Japan.
Okashi Connection has been operating for two years and with the owners and their families being pretty big snackers, it was a dream come true to get the chance to chow down on snacks and candy for their job. Whilst including a wide variety of chocolate, candy, savoury and drinks, their main focus is in selecting unique items, limited editions, new releases and new flavoured items. It seems that the customers of Okashi Connection are just as up-to-date with regards to what’s new in the supermarkets in Japan, so it’s always a challenge to surprise their customers.
There are three box sizes:
- Ninja costs $14 (roughly £10.70), has 5-7 items and weighs 1lb in weight.
- Samurai is $22 (roughly £16.70), has 9-13 items and weighs 1.5lbs.
- Sumo costs $33 (roughly £25) and consists of a whopping 14-18 items, weighing 2.5lbs.
Okashi Connection accept credit and debit cards. They don’t accept PayPal right now, but are planning to have that option really soon. You can sign up any time of the month and their boxes will ship out within six business days of your first payment, so it’s really easy to get started. Shipping is free and handled by Japan Post, but you do have the option to pay extra for Express Mail Service, which means your package could arrive in under a week.
We were sent a Sumo box to review, which was surprisingly heavy, very blue, and filled with 16 full sized items, ranging from candy, a canned drink, a DIY kit, crisps, wafers, and chocolate. It didn’t take long at all for my box to arrive (I think it was sent by Express) and I was contacted by the Japanese EMS postal service by email to state my tracking number so I could check where in the world my package was.
Large, plump gummy sweets which take on the shape and look of a slice of watermelon. These were extremely juicy and really did taste of watermelon, not like the chemical flavourings you get, which was a nice change. There was a light sugar coating, and the packaging was super cute.
Teriyaki Burger Umaibo
This is one large corn puffed snack, very similar to Wotsit crisps, but on a larger scale (and personally I feel it has better flavour). There is a strong teriyaki hamburger taste, which is sweet yet savoury, like a mix of sugar with beef flavoured crisps.
These ultra thin, super spicy and absolutely delicious crisps are everything the UK needs. They are a mash up of habanero chilli peppers and a margarita pizza. They are the crunchiest crisps I have tasted and despite the thin size are so full of flavour. If you don’t like your spice then these crisps are definitely not for you. After your initial bite you don’t really taste anything, but then the heat creeps around your tongue!
Strawberry Roll Candy
Akin to that of the western “Fruit Rolls” that we all used to get in our packed lunch, this Japanese candy is full of sugar and strawberry flavouring. It’s chewy, sticky and really flavourful.
Saku-Pan Coco Monaka
This is aerated chocolate in the shape of a panda in a ice cream cone wafer. The mix of white and milk chocolate, reminds me of the western Aero chocolate bars. I laughed when I opened my packet and saw the shape of my panda – it looks like its make-up was smudged.
When I opened the box, these were the first items I saw and I was totally smitten with them, as they reminded me of the candies that the soot balls from the Studio Ghibli classic Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro would eat. After researching I found out that the candies they eat are actually based on these exact candies. They are boiled sweets that are like little flowery balls of sugar. The colours are meant to resemble flowers such as Hydrangea, Cosmos Flower, Dandelion, Sakura (Cherry Blossom) and Wisteria.
Puchi Pineapple Wafers (Limited Edition)
Crisp and flaky wafers with a strong pineapple cream centre, these were nice when eaten with a drink of some kind as the flavour is very strong. I recommend a glass of cold milk. If eaten without a drink the flavour can be too strong and slowly began to taste like fermented pineapple. You can smell it as soon as you open the packet, and this time round, it does unfortunately taste like a chemical based flavouring.
Cream Collon Setouchi Lemon (Limited Edition)
If you have attended comic cons in the past, or even walked into an Asian supermarket, there is a high chance you have seen a multitude of flavours in the Collon collection. This time the limited edition lemon cream flavoured Collon has been released and I can vouch for its unique yet very addictive taste. It’s like a lemon cheesecake with its soft flavouring, and what tasted like white chocolate instead of cream. The outer shell of the sweet treat is crispy and light – a perfect late night snack.
Sharizo Rice Crackers & Ramen Taro
These two savoury snacks were possibly one of my favourite products out of the box, the rice crackers were super crunchy with a slight Dashi-shio flavouring to them. And for the Ramen Taro they had a strong chicken flavour and reminded me of raw ramen noodles with the powder sprinkled over the top. I would have preferred slightly large versions of each as they were so tasty, but for testing them out these were the perfect sized snacks.
Akin to a profiterole the pastry is soft, fluffy and slightly flaky, with a soft creamy strawberry filling inside. A perfect size for a quick sweet snack, these are delightful to eat and the strawberry flavour is not so overpowering.
Nyoko-Nyoko Kororon DIY Kit
The idea with this DIY kit is that you are supposed to create flavoured egg shaped fruit flavoured soft sweets. The directions are on the back of the packet and are pretty simple to follow. Should you need to see some English directions, you can get them on the Okashi Connection blog. As with most of DIY kits, the texture of the sweets is very sugary, but the flavoured powders (apple, grape and orange here) which you put over the base make them more edible and are possibly the best parts about the kit. I was slightly disappointed, but there is still an element of fun in creating the candies yourself.
Torotto Mango (Limited Edition)
These limited edition sweet snacks were another surprise. From the packaging I thought they were mango flavoured sticky cakes, but I was so wrong. The outer shell of the snack is a crisp baked chocolate (like when you microwave chocolate and it cooks too long), and the centre is a gooey and sweet mango syrup. I thoroughly enjoyed these and would love to get these again.
Now this is the perfect way to clean your mouth from all of the sweets and treats. Calpis is a creamy, fizzy sugared drink which is reminiscent of cream soda, but slightly milkier.
Country Ma’am Choco-Mint Cookies (Limited Edition)
We all like cookies, but when they are limited edition, soft chocolate, with mint chocolate chips, then we’re on a whole new level. The taste is similar to chocolate chip and mint ice-cream, and the texture of the cookie is soft and slightly crisp around the edges. These cookies are the must try items in the box.
Kyan-Baby Drink Flavours
These are small hard candies in a mix of favourite Japanese drinks, such as melon soda, apple soda, and pineapple soda. Although the candies are tiny and the temptation is there to put a few in your mouth, I really suggest trying them one at a time. Not only will it last longer, but you get the true flavour… and the flavours are strong!
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Something I really liked about this subscription box was that it was directly from Japan and the items are handpicked by the Okashi Connection team. So there was no westernised versions of the Japanese treats. The team behind the boxes were really helpful and answered any questions I had for them, givng full support, and from other reviews of their products and subscription service, it seems that this wasn’t a one-off. The team were even kind enough to offer a $1 off coupon for our readers – so when you go to checkout with your boxes, be sure to type “MyMCoupon” into the coupon box so you can claim your discount.
The selection we were given in the Sumo box was worth every penny, with an eclectic mix of sweet and savoury, and one of my favourite drinks from Asia included to wash everything down. Please be sure to pop on over to their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram should you wish to follow them for more information on the boxes and any special events. A big thank you goes to Adam for sorting out a review box for us and we wish the Okashi Connection team all the best for the future.