Umaibo: What is the Mentai Flavor?
Umai-Bo (うまい棒), literally meaning Delicious-Stick in Japanese, is a corn puff stick with many fans in and outside of Japan.
The snack sold by Yaokin, shaped like a cylindrical tube, is known for its unique flavors, including Mentai, many of which are unavailable in other countries.
According to the official website of Yaokin, the original flavor, Tonkatsu Sauce, debuted in July 1979, and currently (as of June 2, 2022), there are 15 flavors in the series.
Another strength of Umaibo is the price of 10 yen (about 0.1 USD), which has never changed since its first release in 1979.
*Yaokin raised its price for the first time to 12 yen in April of this year (2022).
Umaibo Mentai (うまい棒 めんたい)
Today, I picked up the Umaibo Mentai stick (introduced in 1982) at a supermarket.
It is one of the best and most loved flavors of Umaibo, and in popularity contests, this one every time gets a high ranking.
What is the Mentai Flavor?
I noticed recently that many non-Japanese people are wondering, What is Mentai flavor?
About this flavor, the official site says that Umaibo Mentai is a puffed corn snack that recreates the taste of Spicy Mentai, which we generally call Karashi Mentaiko (辛子明太子).
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 seasoning liquid with red chili pepper.
The food has a distinctive salty-spicy taste, and we Japanese commonly eat it on a warm bowl of white rice.
The Umaibo Mentai stick tastes similar to the actual Karashi Mentaiko.
The snack is so savory and yummy that it has become a long-time favorite of many Japanese, even though the actual roe is somewhat bizarre.
Lastly, let’s see the ingredients and nutrition facts of the Umaibo Mentai flavor.
|Corn (Non-GMO), Vegetable oil, Sugars (dextrose, sugar), Paprika, Onion powder, Garlic powder, Panko breadcrumb, Protein hydrolyzate, Cod seasoning powder, Salt, Red chili pepper, Amino acid seasoning, Flavoring, Paprika pigment, Sweetener (sucralose)|
|Salt equivalents||0.1 g|
As you can see from the table above, the Umaibo Mentai flavor doesn’t use real Karashi Mentaiko.
Instead, the snack recreates its taste with ingredients including cod seasoning powder, red chili pepper, and salt.