High-end offerings from Kirin.

I missed my chance to try the Halloween special drinks. Oh. Well.

But I finally went to check out the new stuff at my local store.

I was not disappointed.

Staring at me was a whole lineup of Kirin branded drinks. Kirin, is of course most famous for it’s beer that can be found in all Japanese, and most Chinese restaurants in the U.S.A. Well, these are non-alcoholic. And they are the high-end, flagship soft drinks. By high end, I mean they cost an extra 50Yen more. Hah hah.

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What we have here is a choice of Coffee, Green Tea, and Ginger Ale. I checked out their website: http://www.kirin.co.jp/products/softdrink/bekkaku/  Yes. It is the high-end quality oriented drinks. On top of the three I just found, there is also a regular tea offering.

At this point I will just jump out and say it. The Ginger Ale is the clear winner! Crack open the bottle and a pleasant smell of fresh young ginger hits your nose. I never experienced such smell from any big name drink companies. The taste is not overly sweet, with a bit of a honey aftertaste. (I am not actually sure it was sweetened with honey, but the taste is there.) The spice is that of good and fresh ginger, no artificial taste at all. Not bitter. And has a very pleasant gingery after-burn. (The official claim is that freshly graded ginger is used for this drink.) I would say, if you want same quality ginger ale you would absolutely have to spring for the expensive boutique drink brands. Now, I am not that big of a fan of ginger ale, (except occasionally with my whiskey), and normally don’t go shopping for it. But! I am very excited about this drink.

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Next on my list of flavor favorites it the green tea. If I understood the website correctly, the tea leaves for this drinks are young (1 week?) and grown in low-light conditions (basically covered). The tea is then brewed at a temperature lower than boiling. What does that mean for the taste? There was no bitterness to the tea at all! And yet, it had a very strong leafy flavor. I would say, I could make tea like that by myself if I actually take care to brew carefully. But, I could not buy that type of quality in a bottle regularly.  I drank this cold, and with a stuffy nose. I think drinking it warm, and with working sinuses would do it much more justice.

 

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Finally, the coffee. The specialty of this are the “Bourbon Amarero (Brazil) golden beans”, and some rare syrup containing sugar. (Whatever that means.) This one is sweetened milk coffee. I think they claim to use more beans than usual in making this brew, I believe this because the coffee definitely has a strong caffeine kick. The flavor it … …decent. Better than other canned stuff. Worse than any coffee shop. The sweetness it at a good level. The coffee taste does not have any of the not that great flavors that typically come with the canned stuff. I still can’t decide if the milk was creamy or not. (Weird).  It’s a decent drink. But more of a purchase of opportunity. If I have time to think, I would go get something from a cafe instead.

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“Luka Luka★Night Fever” Pink Grapefruit Soda

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What is a pink-haired anime character doing on your soda bottle? Selling you pink grapefruit soda, apparently. Pink and pink seem to go well together according to drink company Itoen and their Vocaloid character campaign. For this edition we have Luka Megurine (巡音ルカ) and her 2009 single “Luka Luka★Night Fever”, where she promises to “break through the ‘dimensions’”; this time with your taste buds.

Vocaloid is a singing voice synthesizing software developed by the Yamaha Corporation in 2004. Each Vocaloid is sold as a “singer in a box”, which allows aspiring musicians to input lyrics and a melody into the program to create their own songs. Common characteristics of Vocaloid music are the following:

1) Throbbing Eurobeat BGM found just as commonly in European dance clubs as it is in smoky Japanese pachinko parlors.

2) Unnatural vibrato a la that Cher song that needs no further explanation—and which you probably have stuck in your head now.

3) Artificial-sounding voices that can only be the product of childhood nightmares of possessed, glow-in-the-dark-eyed dolls smiling in the corner of your bedroom.

4) A music video that features an animated character with blue hair.

Luka, as well as several other common Vocaloid avatars such as Miku Hatsune (初音ミク) and Rin/Len Kagamine (鏡音リン・レン), was developed by Crypton Future Media, Inc. The characters themselves were originally conceptualized as examples of what the singers of these artificial voices might look like, but ended up becoming the animated Vocaloid stars that they are today. Luka’s “Luka Luka★Night Fever” was written and produced by Vocaloid musician samfree. It is the fictional songstress’s biggest hit, receiving over 3,000,000 hits on Japan’s YouTube-esque Niconico Broadcast. With allusions in the song such as:

“I’m coming to see you beyond dimensions.”

“If you’re ready, take my hand.”

“I’ll teach you something that you’ll never learn at school.”

“Forget everything disgraceful.”

and

“When the sun rises it’s time to say goodbye.”

I’d say that Luka not only wishes to bust into the real world, but also to get into your pants—particularly if you own several of her figurines and are averse to showering.

Oh, and heartfelt croonings like this you can leave up to your imagination:  “I know you more than anyone else, so show me everything, and let me find out why we were born with you.”

Now that we know a little bit more about the packaging, let’s get down to the actual product:

Bleah

Not an all caps “BLEAH”, just a regular “Bleah”. Pink Grapefruit? I’d say more bubble gum than anything, which isn’t so bad for someone with as low standards for soft drinks as me. However, that after taste, that’s where the “Bleah” comes from.

Inspiration from Hungary

Do Mangoes grow in Hungary?  I guess they do because this Peach and Mango (and I think milk) drink is inspired by the desserts of Hungary.

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Now. Normally I would not go for this: small bottle, clearly sugary, 10% juice. But, in the spirit of the blog, I went for it. Plus I bought the Porsche Black Coffee thing at the same time and perhaps my mind wanted something sweet to balance things out. Not that I drank both at the same time…

The taste is very peachy. Not sure I could taste the mango. Sweetness was not overwhelming, I expected it to be worse. A little viscous and creamy, which is a good thing. Quite pleasing.

Actually, this “Sekai Kitchen” brand sells a lot of different juice flavored drinks. Most of them too sweet for my taste. This one was quite good. I should hunt down the other offerings to compare and contrast… and to increase my flavor collection.

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I like my cars like I like my coffee.

I was disappointed with the free toy offerings lately. The military stuff looks cheap. And the only other car collection featured luxury SUVs: not my cup of coffee.

And now comes this!

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The RUF Porsche collection! RUF is a Euro tuning house that takes a Porsche and turns it up to 11. You get a choice of 5 cars in any color as long as it is black! Actually, the RUF SCR (911) that I picked was matte black, while the RUF slantnose (930) was glossy. I am digging the matte black paint on the toy! The three other car choices are RUF THR (993), RUF RGT (996) and RUF RT 35 (991). The last of which you can still buy from the company.

The toys are big, heavy, and high quality. Guess that’s why you have to buy two bottles of coffee to get one. The body is metal. Paint is carefully done, no smudges. You even get the RUF badge on the hood. The underbody feels cheaper, plastic, but definitely has an intended pattern to it. I am still deciding whether or not to spring for the whole set. I am much more into the older models than the new ones.

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Now. The coffee. It’s black! Not sure about the “Premium Aroma” mainly because it is sold refrigerated. But pretty good for a canned drink. None of that typical moussy taste. Not overly burned, just enough of a bitterness to feel it. Not sour. Quite pleasing. Oh, and the caffeine is kicking in as I write this!

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Mizore Nashi (Pear) Drink

The first week of October, and what do you think of? If it’s pears and Funasshi the genderless pear mascot, then you’re right in line with Japan and this Mizore Nashi drink release.
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The drink itself is pretty common in Japan, selling from a variety of companies and packages—most of which do not require an animated endorser. The taste itself is pretty much what you’d expect if you’ve ever eaten a pear before, with added pear chunks—to give that extra possibility of choking to death. Refreshing, but a little heavy with the sugar.
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The main focus of this particular variety is the character Funasshi. Originally created by a citizen in Funabashi, Chiba prefecture to promote tourism in the town, the local government did not officially approve of it, so Funasshi went on to pursue greener pastures himself. Apart from looking like a Pacman hybrid with a stem, random facts are that he is 1,876 years old, listens to heavy metal, and his favorite food is peaches (kind of like if my favorite food were Japanese people).

Since his original inception, he has starred in his own YouTube videos, released a single titled, “Funa Funa Funasshi,” was interviewed by CNN, and has apparently grossed 200,000,000 yen in revenue (think $2 million). That’s pretty decent for a singing pear. The only thing left is mashing that cute face of his into a pulpy liquid and seeing what he tastes like. And with that, dear readers, I present Mizore Nashi drink!

Georgia on my mind.

This one is not seasonal, but it is one of my regular choices.

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The is a lot of Georgia brand coffees around. Most of them come in a can. Most of the time you would get them from a vending machine.

So, why this one? I tell you why! It reminds me of childhood! I don’t know what kind of artificial creamer they put in this, but it tastes like coffee with ice-cream: sweet, creamy, and slightly frothy somehow (even though it does not foam up).

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Flashback: My fair lady! I am so excited!

I am so excited.

Walk into my local Conbini store and what do I see?

UCC coffee with a die-cast toy of Fairlady Z. These are the Nissan Z cars in the States. I love those cars, and I used to own a 280ZX Turbo. Actually, my father drives it now, so it’s still in the family. I am going to od on coffee now just to get all 8 different models and at least 3 models of my car!

These toys are metal top, and plastic bottom. No brand name stamped anywhere. The paint job is amazing, especially for a free toy. So cool!

The coffee itself is milk coffee, no sugar. Not bitter, but not so mild that you only taste the milk. And surprisingly good for canned coffee: no mousy flavor, and no sour taste.

I posted about these toys on my old Fairlady Z forum. Ended up cleaning out the local store of their stock just to fill all the guys’ requests.  And of course I kept a set for myself! And a couple more, to play with…

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