Even though the duck and I are pretzel, chocolate and matcha lovers, we give other snacks a chance. And senbei is definitely in the top ranks of alternative snacks. We had eaten senbei before moving to Tokyo and it had always filled us with joy when we got our hands on a small package (maybe because it felt exotic enough to make us savor every bite?). Well, now that we live in Japan, the land of senbei, the place where you don’t just go and randomly buy senbei – you go and buy your favorite kind of senbei, the senbei that makes all other senbei taste bland and boring, the senbei that shall rule them all, the senbei that you know can achieve world peace (if given the chance to run for office), because there are lots to choose from pretty much anywhere you can shop for food. When the duck and I were standing in front of the senbei aisle at a local grocery store for the first time, hit by the realization that we could now have as much senbei as our stingy selves allowed us to, it was pretty easy for us to pick our first contender in the race for our go-to savory snack in Japan: Black bean senbei.
The following review is sponsored by pure subjectivity and two 100 yen coins out of our own pockets, still slightly damp from our tears of a heartfelt farewell…:
Will it rice to the top?
To understand this genius heading, let us give a very brief explanation of our understanding of senbei (because after all that rambling, that would probably be appropriate): Senbei are rice crackers that come in many shapes, textures and flavors. It seems to be pretty popular to offer them to people who you want to like you (like friends-to-be, team-mates-to-be, colleagues-to-be or homework-providers-to-be), including yourself, because it’s always good to have a healthy portion of self-love.
The black bean senbei that we tried has a perfect combination of crunch, lightness and that soy sauce flavor that we like so much. Unlike some other varieties of senbei, it’s not too sweet and does a wonderful job at satisfying our frequent pretzel cravings (even though it’s not even remotely pretzel-like, really). The toasted black beans add an extra crunch and if one falls off while you devour your cracker (which is pretty much unavoidable), you have a little bonus piece, like the cherry on top (that has somehow traveled to the bottom of your bowl? Just go along with me here) to help you remember this snacking experience.
Because of that, I think this deserves a 5/5 ducks in our senbei category.
So, against all (imaginary) odds, the black bean senbei did rice to the top. Will it remain the undefeated number one? Only time will tell!