Our taste buds were a little confused by what we were eating.

It was a lovely yet ordinary wooden box — the kind you might spy at a specialty grocer and bring to an upscale dinner party.

In fact, our Japanese-language correspondent Udonko may have passed right by it while thinking it was an ordinary small cake if not for the two rows of bright yellow characters on the packaging that read “fish cheesecake.”

This actually wasn’t our first run-in with fish-filled cakes, but the thought of a fishy cheesecake in particular didn’t exactly inspire confidence.

▼ What in the mackerel…???

Their first thought was that it must be a local tie-in product made in an area where a lot of fish are caught and that it wouldn’t actually contain fish. A closer inspection of the ingredients label, however, proved that the cake did indeed incorporate actual fish.

▼ “Fish meat (America)”

Sold by Yamasa Kamaboko, a Hyogo-based purveyor of fish cakes (this use of “cakes” refers to pureed fish products commonly found in Japanese cuisine), the cake’s label even listed “fish” as the very first ingredient. What a perfectly peculiar piscine prize for only 1,134 yen (US$9.12)!

A note on the website stated that the cheesecake was developed so that even people who don’t normally enjoy fish might like it.

Of course, that begged the question: Would anyone actually like this odd pairing of foods?!

There was only one way to find out, so Udonko placed an order which arrived a few days later.

With anticipation, Udonko opened the lid and was greeted by an ordinary-looking, lightly browned cheesecake. Its diameter was small, a little over the size of a spread palm, and gave off no smell or any presence of fish at this point.

The enclosed directions said to chill it in the fridge overnight before tasting.

Finally, the moment of truth arrived. Udonko neatly sliced the chilled cake into four equal parts. Its texture certainly looked like a cheesecake, but how about its taste?

Udonko couldn’t taste or smell the fish at all. It had a pleasantly mild sweetness but a melt-in-the-mouth fluffiness that you might encounter with a pounded hanpen fish cake. The product was solidly on the side of a being a sweet.

However, there was one point that caused Udonko a tiny bit of confusion. With regular cheesecake, you’re likely to experience a slight sourness within the sweetness. That sense of sourness wasn’t apparent here at all.

If Udonko had to compare it to something, it was probably closest to a Japanese-style pudding (purin). The taste might confuse your mouth a little bit if you go in for a bite expecting a regular cheesecake.

Udonko did completely agree that this was likely a fish product that even fish haters could not only stomach but even enjoy. In terms of novel and exciting fish products, it certainly seems more appetizing than that chocolate fish in a can we tried last year.

Reference: Rakuten
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