KabukiAge vs BonchiAge: Age-Senbei Rice Crackers
Senbei is a traditional Japanese rice cracker made of the staple of the Japanese diet, “Uruchi (うるち)” non-glutinous rice, and the majority of traditional Senbei rice crackers are mainly seasoned with soy sauce or salt.
In modern times, a large variety of Sensei-like snacks can be bought at grocery stores in Japan, and in recent years even if you don’t live in Japan, you can easily find various types of Japanese rice crackers on online marketplaces.
When it comes to the variety of such Japanese rice snacks, “Age Senbei (揚げせんべい)” is one of the most common types that has been around since a long time ago.
As the Japanese word, “Age (揚げ)” or “Ageru (揚げる)” means to “deep-fry”, Age Senbei is the generic name for deep-fried Japanese rice crackers.
Age Senbei (揚げ煎餅)
The Japanese fries Age Senbei comes in many varieties, but among those products, I think “KabukiAge (歌舞伎揚)” and “BonchiAge (ぼんち揚)” are the most famous.
Image: tanmari hatenablog
Released in 1960 by the Tokyo-based confectionery company “Amanoya (天乃屋)”, Kabuki-Age is the best known Age Senbei in the Kanto region around Tokyo, where there are few people but know KabukiAge.
As its name indicates, the deep-fried Senbei, Kabuki-Age is said to have 10 kinds of designs using the family crests of Kabuki, and each is engraved on the surface of the dough.
This Age Senbei is quite hard but has a pleasant crunchy bite and is flavored with a thick, sweet soy sauce. KabukiAge is good in all respects and arguably one of the best Age Senbei.
On the other hand, the fries produced and sold by the Osaka-based confectionery company “Bonchi (ぼんち)”, Bonchi-Age is the Age Senbei most familiar to those who live in the Kansai region around Osaka, where the product BonchiAge holds the top share in the market.
Bonchi-Age first went on the market in 1960, the same year as the Kabuki-Age cracker was first introduced.
BonchiAge is lightly salted and is not hard compared to KabukiAge. It is a light crispy, savory Age Senbei seasoned mainly with soy-sauce-based sauce and sugar, packed with umami from bonito and kombu seaweed extracts.