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Is Japanese canned food really as good as they say it is? Here's our taste test

Canned foods test
'Hmm, not sure about canned chicken though...'
In association with Maruha Nichiro

There is probably no other nation on earth that loves to put things in cans the way the Japanese do. Besides the staple canned foods like salmon and mackerel, you can buy pretty much anything in tins here – from the kind of top class red king crab you usually only see at luxury restaurants, to roast chicken, volcanic ash, or even air captured at the peak of Mt Fuji. It’s a mystery when exactly this love affair with canned foods began, but the reason is pretty obvious: the kind we make in Japan is really quite delicious. Here, we introduce you to seven high-quality examples from Maruha Nichiro Corporation. To make things a little more interesting, we asked both the foreign and Japanese editors at Time Out Tokyo to rate each one (star rating is out of three).

Tokusen Akebono Crab Leg Meat

 

 

 

Foreign team: ★★★
Japanese team: ★★★
Who would imagine that this small can could be packed with such authentic crab meat? If you can get past the rather strong aroma, you’ll be impressed by how tender it is. This is like crab meat for royals (it even costs ¥9,800!).

Sanma Kabayaki

 

 

 

Foreign team: ★★★
Japanese team: ★★★
Prepared with the popular flavour of ‘kabayaki’ (a sweet and sticky soy-based sauce used for grilling fresh fish), this local sanma (saury) has a genuine barbecue taste that appeals to universal palates.

Tinned Smoked Mackerel

 

 

 

Foreign team: ★★½
Japanese team: ★½
Smoked mackerel is a flavour that’s found worldwide so it was interesting to note the drop in score on this one. The Japanese team in particular found the taste to be a little plain.

La Cantine Balsamico

 

 

 

Foreign team: ★★★
Japanese team: ★★
The charm of this new series lies in their quality sauce and their trendy packaging that goes against the canned-food norm. Out of the different flavours on offer, this one is especially popular for dipping bread.

Sardines in Ume Sauce

 

 

 

Foreign team: ★½
Japanese team: ★★½
Sardines and ume? Some may find this combo strange, but have faith in the delicate palate of the Japanese and give it a try! The slightly sour taste is highly addictive.

Tokusen Red Salmon Chazuke

 

 

 

Foreign team: ★★½
Japanese team: ★★½
This product superbly mimics the taste of fresh salmon. It’s salty and fatty, so we recommend eating it with rice or toast and salad. Although it didn’t get the top rating, it got the nod from everyone on both teams.

Chicken Ga-Prao from Thailand

 

 

 

Foreign team: ★½
Japanese team: ★★½
This canned food series is themed after Asian cuisine and faithfully reproduces the authentic spicy taste of Thai dishes. Pair it with white rice for maximum enjoyment. Not keen on the idea of canned chicken? We weren't either, really, but this is minced and more palatable than you'd think.

 

Products available from selected supermarkets around Tokyo or find them all at Maruha Nichiro Plaza, 1F Toyosu Front, 3-2-20 Toyosu, Koto-ku, Tokyo, 03 6833 0280.

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