Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Kabaya Saku Saku Panda - H-Mart: Cherry Hill, NJ

Kabaya Saku Saku Panda - H-Mart: Cherry Hill, NJ
Adorable little panda shaped cookies covered in chocolate? How could I resist? When I saw these in the aisle, the chocolate box immediately went into my handcart, but I waxed and waned over the strawberry ones. Normally I avoid strawberry flavored chocolates at H-mart and the Asian Food Market, the artificial strawberry that Asian chocolates like to use just doesn't appeal to me. I love real fresh strawberries, but strawberry Pocky? No thank you. I came to the conclusion that I just couldn't give up the opportunity to photograph pink panda cookies, they'd be so cute! Into the cart they went, and they sat in my to-be-reviewed pile for... well, an embarrassingly long time.

To help me knock out my stash a bit faster, I'll be reviewing both flavors today, so this post will be a bit photo-heavy. (You've been warned.)

Each box is about the size of a classic box of animal crackers, the ones that look like a little caged train car, and they feature cute panda illustrations and images of the cookies inside. Both boxes are very similar, and they feature designs that allow them to be displayed vertically, or horizontally. (Although my boxes had the translated ingredients sticker covering the vertical side.) 

Similar to the Kinoko no Yama, the box opened by tearing open a perforated flap on the front. (Which I hate. I hate tearing box art apart, but that's a weird pet peeve of mine.) There is plenty of information near the opening area for the box that tells you about the chocolate flavors, but there's something else too. I can't read this, I really ought to learn by now, but it seems to be some sort of mystery face? I know snacks like Hello Panda have printed faces and you can try matching the faces up, there's usually one that stands alone. I wonder, is this is a variation of that? (If you can read these boxes, please let me know.)

Inside each box is a patterned plastic bag. The strawberry bag is pink (duh) and the chocolate bag is red.

Once opened, you can see the that the chocolate pandas are ab it worse for wear, they have some chocolate smears and flecks on their white chocolate surfaces, but the strawberry-pink ones look just as good as the images on their box.

I'll start off by talking about and trying the chocolate pandas.

The chocolate panda biscuit smells sweet, but oddly artificial. I guess the odd aroma I smell could be the white chocolate? It's hard to describe, but the scent just seems a bit off and kind of plastic-y. (Which is worrying.)

I took a bite, and the cookie was crisp and generic, kind of like animal cracker, but the chocolate... it tastes the same way it smells. Slightly plasticy and artificial, and then there is a kind of bitter aftertaste. Did I get a bad box? How can chocolate go so wrong? These aren't awful in the way that I want to spit it out, but I definitely don't want to eat the rest of the package. I tried a few more chocolate pandas to see if I got a dud in the box, but all of them tasted and smelled the same way. Chocolate is usually the best bet as far as flavors go, it's hard to mess that up, so what went wrong here? Are these a bad box? Are they really old? Am I eating expired candy again?

Oh well, I might as well move on to the strawberry.

The strawberry pandas are freaking precious!I'm normally one of those girls who avoids the color pink, but I really think these pink pandas look so much more appealing than their chocolate counterparts. (Then again the chocolate ones look like they've lost a fight, so that might not be a fair comparison.)

As far as smell, these have a slightly artificial scent to them too, but not as strong as the chocolate ones. I don't have very high hopes for these, since the chocolate ones were very disappointing, but I'll give them a try anyway.

I took a bite, and they are substantially better than the chocolate pandas! They're far from the best thing I've ever eaten, but the strawberry flavoring is a lot better than usual. To me, this tastes more like strawberry ice cream than the usual artificial strawberry flavoring used for white chocolate, like Pocky, and I ended up liking these way more then and chocolate version.

These panda sweets are a cute novelty item, and they might make cute decorations for cupcakes or other baked goods, but as a stand-alone snack, they aren't great.If you really like Pandas I'd recommend Hello Panda, although they aren't as cute.
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