A revolution in fine, lazy dining, or a concept too good to be truly delicious?

It was only a while back that Yoshinoya blew our minds by releasing an entire line of canned beef bowls, but even as we were still reminiscing on that game-changing development in meal options for lazy people like us, we stumbled across another potential wonder: canned fried chicken.

While browsing the aisles at our local branch of convenience store chain Family Mart, we found two new offerings from Hotei Foods. In the white tin is Hotei’s soy-marinade karaage (Japanese-style fried chicken), and in the red is the “pirikara” (spicy) marinade version. Both boast that they use domestically raised chicken and are identically priced at 216 yen (US$2), and we picked up one of each to taste test.

Back at SoraNews24 headquarters, we started by cracking open the soy-marinade fried chicken. Right away, you can tell that Hotei’s canned karaage isn’t crispy-skinned, with a sheen of oil on its outer surface.

It’s a similar story with the pirikara karaage, though the look of the glaze here is appealing in its own way. As far as flavor, though, things get kind of complicated.

The soy-marinade karaage really doesn’t taste much like fried chicken, and actually reminded us a bit of canned tuna in its consistency. The pirikara karagge gets a higher score in the taste department, though once again, it’s not quite what experienced Japanese-style fried chicken fans expect when they hear “karaage,” and actually reminded us more of a Chinese-style sweet and sour chicken.

However, there is one thing you can do to make both types tastier, which is to microwave them (after taking them out of their metal cans, of course).

Popping the meat morsels into the microwave for about 30 seconds resulted in a big improvement, as the heat helped soften up and melt the oils that had hardened at room temperature, making each bite juicier and more uniform in consistency.

While neither of Hotei’s canned karaage tastes like we’d expected, we wouldn’t say either one tastes bad. That said, you’ll probably enjoy them more if you just think of them as “canned chicken” than “canned karaage,” but if you’re in a pinch, or need something to pair with your canned ramen, you could do worse.

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