Japanese cuisine is often known for its subtle tastes which some might criticize as being downright “bland.” But there are some exceptions, one of which is umeboshi. This is a dried and pickled ume fruit which is a cross between a plum and an apricot. Umeboshi are very popular in Japan and have a sour and salty taste that will slap you in the face harder than a scorned lover.

By now you’re probably be thinking, “That vinegary plum sounds great! But what it really needs is some cheese mixed in.” Well, you’re in luck! Frito Lay Japan is way ahead of you and just released Ume & Cheese flavored tortilla chips. We sat down with a bag to see how this combination plays out in chip form.

■ Cheese, Fruit, and Cheese again

Upon opening the bag of chips, I was greeted with a mellow cheesey aroma. According to the Frito Lay website it’s a cream-cheese flavor that’s double seasoned on the chips along with the umeboshi flavor. There was a slight sharp tinge to the scent but for the most part these were cheesy chips. Or so I thought.

Actually eating the Ume & Cheese chips was a different story altogether. They had a very fruity taste that was sweet, sour, and salty all at the same time. I could barely notice the cheese flavor at all. I could best describe the taste as Kellog’s Froot Loops with vinegar.

Now, that sounds gross, but if you get just the right balance – and I imagine it’s a very fine line – between Froot Loops and vinegar it’s a great taste. Although the cheese wasn’t clearly present in the tasting I figured it helped in the balancing process and led to a very tasty result. I found myself unconsciously munching down the whole bag rather quickly.

A few minutes after finishing, an odd taste arose in my mouth; kind of smoky and savory. It was the cheese flavor! It came back to say hello one last time before departing for good.

■ ‘Tis the season

With this being the season where plum blossoms emerge there are actually a whole range of ume flavored snacks about. For comparison we also picked up some Mike Ume Flavored Popcorn.

This was straight ume flavor though, but it was interesting to see the difference the cheese made by comparing the two. The ume popcorn was powerfully sour at first but once you settled into a snacking rhythm the taste mellows into a nice tangy flavor. If you like a little more kick in your simulated ume snacks, Mike is the way to go.

Sadly, if you want Mike Ume Flavored Popcorn you’ll have to hurry as production stopped at the end of January. However, bags can still be found at convenience stores and supermarkets around the country. You won’t need to rush for the Ume & Cheese Tortilla Chips though. Those will continue to sell until April nationwide.

Source: Frito Lays Japan (Japanese)
Photos: RocketNews24