These aren’t your typical senbei.

Senbei, Japanese rice crackers, are one of the country’s favorite, and crispiest, snacks. They’re so crispy, in fact, that people will often snap senbei in half before taking them out of their individual wrappers, since biting into a whole one can send pieces flying because of how crispy they are.

At least, that’s how it is with most senbei, but Japan also has a second class of the snack called nure-senbei, or “wet rice crackers.”

Nure-senbei aren’t super-rare, but they’re far less common than the crispy kind. So much so, in fact, that our Japanese-language reporter Daiki Nishimoto had never tried them before today’s taste test. Since it’s Daiki’s first time, we decided to start him off with one of the best-loved brands, Choshi Electric Railway Line’s Nure-senbei.

▼ Apparently they used to be part of the compensation package for workers on the Chiba Prefecture railway, but now they’re something the general public can buy.

Daiki started off by opening one of the “Strong-flavor Red” senbei. He’d braced himself for the wet rice cracker to be soggy looking, but appearance-wise it looked pretty normal.

Or it looked normal when it was just sitting there, anyway. As he picked it up, he could instantly feel that the surface was moist, and when he gave it a little squeeze with his fingertips, he was startled to see it bend, instead of snap like a normal senbei would.

He got his next surprise when he took a bite, and his taste buds were flooded with flavor. While they’re being made, nure-senbei are soaked in soy sauce, and its flavor and aroma come on deliciously strong.

More than anything, though, it’s their texture that makes nure-senbei special. They’re elastic but with a firm center, making them feel somewhere between a regular senbei and a mochi rice cake. The result is that you do a lot of chewing, and every time you work your jaws you get a fresh dose of soy sauce and rice cracker flavor.

Daiki was instantly in love, but he admits that the Strong-flavor Red Nure-senbei might be a little too strongly flavored for some people. So next he opened up a Mild-flavor Blue Nure-senbei.

Actually, even the Mild-flavor Blue has a stronger taste than an orthodox dry, crispy senbei, Daiki learned. Really, “slightly strong-flavor” would be the better descriptor.

Not that Daiki is at all complaining, though, as he found both extremely satisfying in the flavor department. They were so good that he’s already confident in calling them as among his top 10 snacks of 2023, even though we’re not even done with January yet.

Both versions come five to a pack for 500 yen (US$3.90), and with how quickly Daiki is going through them it’s a good thing he can restock through the Choshi Electric Railway online shop here.

Photos © SoraNews24
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