They don’t call this chain crazy for nothing. 

If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for all your weird Japan needs, you can’t go past Don Quijote. Loved by locals, tourists, and international celebrities, this variety chainstore sells everything from personal massagers to dishwashing liquid, and it’s where you’ll also find unusual snacks, like this one below.

These Shiitake Mushroom Snacks are produced by the chain’s own brand, Jonetsu Kakaku, and were recently featured on a popular TV programme, where they surprised the hosts. So when our reporter Mr Sato came across them on a visit to Don Quijote, he immediately picked up a pack to try them out.

According to the blurb plastered all over the package, these snacks have been carefully crafted by a shiitake lover, with attention to details like seasoning so that even those who don’t like shiitake will like them. They go so far as to call it a “Shiitake Counterattack“, which was a bold claim that piqued Mr Sato’s curiosity.

However, the photos of shiitake on the pack were said to be “images”, meaning they’re used for illustrative purposes only, so Mr Sato was keen to find out what the snacks really looked like.

“Photos are images”

Figuring there would be no way these would be shaped like actual shiitake mushrooms, Mr Sato imagined they must be shiitake flavoured chips or crackers. However, upon opening the pack, Mr Sato’s eyes opened wide at the contents.

▼ Are these…actual mushrooms???

Tipping the contents out onto a plate, Mr Sato’s eyes widened even further as he realised these snacks were actually…dried shiitake mushrooms!!

▼ Each mushroom even had the stalk still attached!

Well, this was an unexpected turn of events for a snack that claims to be a “shiitake counterattack” with the power to win over even those who don’t like mushrooms. It’d certainly be a confronting snack for those averse to eating mushrooms, but thankfully Mr Sato doesn’t mind fungi, so he popped one into his mouth for a taste.

Wow — not bad! The texture was really nice and firm, which helps to fool the mind into thinking you’re biting into a fried rice cracker, while the taste was similar to a consommé-flavoured chip. It was strong on the salty notes, making it a good partner for alcohol, but the most surprising part was the fact that the distinctive mushroom smell, often cited as the reason why people are turned off by them, was totally non-existent.

Despite being mushrooms, and looking exactly like them, the flavour was totally different, and surprisingly tasty. More like an inoffensive drinking snack, these shiitake mushrooms are a real surprise worth trying, and at 645 yen (US$4.49) per pack, they’re an indulgence that’ll help to elevate your run-of-the-mill Don Quijote whisky.

Related: Don Quijote
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