Saturday, September 22, 2018

A Candy Farewell Toast! - Goodbye to My Beloved Asian Food Markets

Tokachi Wine Candy - Asian Food Markets 
Two weeks ago, the Asian Food Markets, arguably, the best Asian grocery store in South Jersey, broke my heart by closing it's doors. 
According to articles online, their lease was up and they are currently looking for a new location, but as of now, they haven't found one. I'm a little nervous that this could be goodbye forever...
(Before I get too dramatic, these are a chain and there are other locations, but there are none within reasonable driving distance of my home.)
I couldn't let my favorite store disappear without one last hurrah, so the day before they closed, I stopped by and took advantage of their 30% off everything sale. Normally I stick to a simple hand cart, but if this was (potentially) a "good bye forever" situation, I was going to go out with a BANG. I grabbed a full-size cart and filled it with all kinds of goodies. We're talking candies, tons of tea, snacks, curry cubes, wasabi tubes, and tons of cooking ingredients. Pretty much I grabbed everything I had always wanted to try and knew I couldn't buy at H-Mart or the other Asian markets here in South Jersey. 
When I got to the check-out, my cart was pretty heavy and practically overflowing with stuff, and the total? Only $109.76 for 50 items! The frugal part of me was stoked, but it ultimately a bitter sweet victory
To celebrate my love for the oddly pluralized "Asian Food Markets," (and to get my butt back into blogging semi-regularly) I'll be reviewing a bunch of the stuff I purchased there, starting off this these wine flavored candies. 
A crunchy candy farewell toast!
There were a ton of candies in this particular line, and from what I can tell, each flavor celebrates a locally produced product from Japan. We have flavors like honey, red bean, and wine...and tomato or cheese. Yes, cheese. Like, actual cheese, not cheese cake. Needless to say, I grabbed the entire line. Wine is first because it's the fanciest and I don't feel like punishing my stomach today. (Not today, Satan. Not today.)

Packaging-wise, all the candies in this line follow the same layout, with shiny metallic gold graphics, with the color palettes and food imagery swapping out for flavor-relevancy.Depending on the flavor, things can look a little busy, and this is one of the biggest offenders. Thankfully, the stark black background gives your eye somewhere to rest. I'm not a huge fan of the visuals, but I like the overall concept behind this flavor. 
From the dissected candy graphics on the back of the bag I can deduce that there are two flavors inside, one seems to be a white whine wine, and the other appears to be red, but they seem to have the same filling which looks....gooey? We shall see...
Yup! Inside we have two different wrappers, a green and a purple. 
Their wrappers might be the colors of actual grapes, but when they're unwrapped...

They look more wine-y. 
The red version smells sweet and jammy, like a lot of the purple-colored-concord-grape candies I've had in the past. I popped it into my mouth and it initially has a bright and authentic flavoring, it reminds me of the Kasugai grape gummies I reviewed several years ago. The authenticity begins to fade a little bit and I get some flavoring that reminds me of those little strawberry hard candies that everyone's grandma had in their candy dish. You know, these things(I literally Googled "Strawberry grandma candy) and that came up.) 
 When I got to the filling I was very surprised to find a stiff fruity gummy candy. The outer layer had gotten a bit soft and easy to chew, again very similar to the syrupy insides of those Grandma-candies I mentioned earlier, but at it's core was a very stiff gummy. It almost felt like a really thick fruit skin, but it wasn't. That center had a slightly deeper purple-grape flavoring to it, with a hint of a floral finish that was a little perfume-y. I am guessing that is the "wine" aspect of this candy? A few minutes after you've swallowed the perfume-y after taste gets a bit stronger and it isn't entirely unpleasant, but it's definitely not great. As far as wine-flavoring goes, this is a failure, and I was going to say this is a great grape candy, but the aftertaste is causing me to hesitate...
Next up, the green wrapped "white" wine. 
Unlike the red, this one barely has a scent to it. It's lightly swet but there really aren't any fruity notes at all.  
I popped the clear-ish candy into my mouth and it tasted very different. This time the flavoring is a little on the dry and tart side, similar to white cranberries, but there is a tanginess that also reminds me of the pickled plum candies I liked a lot. If I didn't know any better, I would never in a million years think this was a grape-based candy, and I definitely would taste this and think it were wine-themed either. So it might fail in terms of matching it's namesake, but it's really tasty! Sweet, but tart, with a dry, almost vinegar-like, tang. I am here for it!
This time when I got to the center (which was also clear and not pink-colored like the bag suggested) the texture was the same really stiff chew, but the flavoring seemed less floral. This time the center gummy was giving me sparkling white grape juice vibes, which is closer to wine that I expected it to be, but after a few more minutes....I was hit with the same after taste. I really like this weird perfume-like floral flavoring is meant to replicate wine...but it's definitely missed the mark for me.  
Overall this was far more grape-juice than it was wine, but I don't see that as a negative. That honor goes to the filling's after taste. I don't even know what to liken it to, wine-flavored-sadness? It unfortunately ruins a candy that had great potential.
Thankfully I have a bunch of other product to review with should give Asian Food Markets the send off it deserves, because this review (sadly) turned into sour grapes. 
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