Umaibo: What is the Mentai Flavor?
“Umai-Bo (うまい棒)”, literally meaning “Delicious-Stick” in Japanese, is a Japanese corn puff stick with a lot of fans in and outside of Japan.
The Japanese puffed corn snack is shaped like a cylindrical tube and is well-known for its rich variety of unique flavors many of which in fact can’t be seen in countries other than Japan.
According to the official website of Umaibo, the original flavor “Tonkatsu Sauce (とんかつソース)” went on the market in July 1979, and currently, there are 19 flavors available in the series, which include regionally limited ones.
Another appealing point of Umaibo is the low price of 10 yen (about 0.1 USD), which hasn’t changed since the first release in 1979.
Umaibo Mentai (うまい棒 めんたい)
And today, I picked up a popular flavor of Umaibo, “Mentai (めんたい)” first introduced in 1982. It is one of the best and most loved flavors of Umaibo, and in popularity contests, the Mentai flavor is every time ranked high.
What is the Mentai Flavor?
However, it seems many overseas people are wondering “What is Mentai flavor?”
About this flavor, Umaibo’s official website says that Umaibo Mentai is a corn puff stick that recreates the taste of spicy Mentai, and the spicy Mentai is referred to as “Karashi Mentaiko (辛子明太子)” in Japan.
Karashi Mentaiko (辛子明太子)
Karashi Mentaiko is a specialty of Fukuoka Prefecture. It is the roe of walleye (Alaska) pollack (a species of codfish) marinated in a liquid seasoning with red chili pepper.
Karashi Mentaiko is characterized by its distinctive salty, spicy taste, and we Japanese like eating the slightly spicy eggs with a hot bowl of white rice at meals.
In fact, this Mentai-flavored Umaibo puffed corn tastes similar to the actual Karashi Mentaiko. The Japanese corn puff is really savory, slightly spicy, and very yummy!
Lastly, let’s see the ingredients of the Umaibo Mentai Flavor. Based on the list on the purple package, the Japanese treat, Umaibo Mentai mainly consists of Non-GMO corn, vegetable fat and oil, sugars, paprika, spices, breadcrumbs, salt, amino acids, and cod seasoning powder.
From the above, the puffed corn Umaibo Mentai doesn’t contain real Karashi Mentaiko. Instead, the snack recreates the taste of Karashi Mentaiko mainly using cod seasoning powder, spices, and salt.