Umaibo: What is the Mentai Flavor?
“Umaibo (うまい棒)” is a Japanese corn puff snack bar of which there are a lot of fans in and outside of Japan.
The original flavor of the Umaibo puffcorn went on the market in 1979, and now the cylindrical snack bar comes in a wide variety of flavors, including regionally limited ones.
Since the price of 10 yen (about 0.1 USD) has never changed since its first release, the puffed snack has been a favorite of Japanese children for decades.
By the way, according to the official website of Umaibo, currently (as of March 31, 2020) there are 18 regular flavors in the series.
Umaibo Mentai (うまい棒 めんたい)
Among those, “Mentai (めんたい)”, released in 1982, is one of the most loved flavors of Umaibo and in popularity contests of the flavors of Umaibo, the Mentai flavor is every time ranked high.
What is Mentai Flavor?
However, it seems that many overseas people wonder “What is Mentai flavor?”
About this flavor, Umaibo’s official website says that Umaibo Mentai is a corn puff snack bar that recreates the taste of spicy Mentai.
Actually, 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 known as a specialty of Fukuoka Prefecture which is made by marinating the roe of walleye pollack (a species of the cod fish) in a liquid seasoning containing red chili pepper.
Karashi Mentaiko is characterized by its distinctive salty, spicy flavor and we Japanese like eating the spicy walleye pollack roe especially with plain white rice at meals.
The Taste of Umaibo Mentai Corn Puff
In fact, I think this Mentai-flavored Umaibo corn puff has a taste like Karashi Mentaiko. It is really savory, slightly spicy, and not that salty.
The Ingredients in Umaibo Mentai Flavor
Finally, I checked what ingredients are included in the Umaibo Mentai flavored corn puff snack.
Based on the ingredient list on the package, the Umaibo Mentai snack bar mainly consists of Non-GMO corn, vegetable fat and oil, sugars, paprika, spices, breadcrumbs, salt, amino acid, and cod seasoning powder.
From the above, Umaibo Mentai Flavor doesn’t contain actual Karashi Mentaiko itself. Instead, the snack recreates the taste of Karashi Mentaiko mainly using cod seasoning powder, spices and salt.