If you read anime and manga, you know that food comes up a lot in Japanese fiction. A LOT. It’s a whole thing. In that spirit, we decided to review the Sakuraco TokyoTreat snack box (for October 2022) to see if it captures the essence of what we see on page and screen.
I was provided with this Sakuraco Snack Box for free for review. The opinions I have shared are my own.
Snack boxes are (in theory anyway) a fun way to explore different foods and find new favorites. It’s neat to get a little of a lot of things. You don’t get stuck with anything you hate, but you can suss out stuff you want to add to your regular snack rotation. There are a LOT of subscription boxes around, though, and some of them are pretty sketchy. That’s why we don’t usually review them here. We chose this Sakuraco subscription box to review because:
- A lot of our readers (and us!) enjoy Japanese media, and food is a major recurring theme in anime and manga, and
- The company seems to have good reviews and not be a fly-by-night scam.
So… is it worth it? I broke open the October 2022 box, “Ibaraki Harvest”, to give my opinion. You can watch the unboxing video first if you like.
The box says it has 20 things. I counted 14 different snack items, plus the art card and the little cherry blossom bowl. Here’s the run-down on munchables:
- Ibaraki sencha with matcha tea- 2 little silk bags
- Ibaraki Chestnut Karinto- one bag
- Ibaraki Melon Jelly- one cup
- Parinto Natto Snack- one bag
- Beniharuka Sweet Potato Cookie- one cookie
- Ibaraki Puffed Rice Carrot- one carrot-shaped bag
- Ibaraki Blueberry Manju- one manju
- Masakado Senbei- 2 separate bags with one senbei each
- Strawberry tart- 2 tarts
- Konbu Arare- one bag
- Beniazuma Sweet Potato Cake- one cake
- White Peach Cookie- 2 bags
- Issa Tsuzumi Manju- one package of 6 manju
- White shrimp arare- 2 bags
So that’s… (let’s, see, 14 plus… and carry the 2) actually 22 snacks. On the one hand, it makes the Sakuraco claim of “20 snacks!” sound a little generous when there’s really only 14 different items. On the other hand, 22 is in fact more than 20. I’m calling this an okay assessment of the box contents.
Now to the important questions: how does everything taste? Is it something we might see in anime or manga?
Let’s address the second question first. Right off, I should mention that these aren’t going to be as common in fiction as ramen or dango. They’re packaged snacks, meaning they have to be easily preserved. Also, this box is all items from Ibaraki Prefecture. Probably the Halloween box would be a little more photogenic.
That said, I have seen karinto and manju being munched on or artfully scattered across manga pages. I think the natto also looks like something characters are hurling into their mouths in big handfuls right before a dramatic spit take. Oh, and the carrot? I’m sure I have seen that in something because I knew what it was right away. (Anyone know what it was? Drop it in the comments.)
On to the tasting!
I couldn’t taste everything in this box myself. The book does a good job of calling out not only the main allergy risks from ingredients but also possible contaminants from production. I have a shellfish allergy, which means I couldn’t sample 3 things here safely: the melon jelly, the white shrimp arare, and the konbu arare. Real talk, I took a little bite of the melon jelly before I saw the allergy warning because- well, who expects to find shellfish in a JELLY??? Learn from my fail and read the allergy warnings first.
The jelly was Not For Me at all on a texture basis. It got a bit watery really fast while I lined up the photos. That made it a little slimy.
I had a friend eat those three items. He says the white shrimp arare are “fine”, loved the konbu arare (“I could eat these all day”), and says the melon jelly is nice but doesn’t taste super strong.
That sweet potato cookie, though… oh man, I loved that. I’d eat a whole sleeve of those. I’ve had sweet potato cookies and enjoyed them, but this specific one was AWESOME. It had the perfect ratio of crunch vs. crumble. Pretty, too!
Other things I enjoyed were both the manju, the tarts, the white peach cookies, and the karinto. All of these are things I’d buy in a store if I came across them. I’m trying to track down those white peach cookies now, in fact. I want to serve them at tea.
Speaking of tea, I’m a tea snob. I’ve got fancy canisters and I use a thermometer to get the right temperature for each blend when I’m feeling fancy. This sencha with matcha is something I’d drink regularly when I want to just throw a tea bag into water but still want a decent drink. That’s a good thing to have for lazy days.
I was ambivalent about the natto. Fermented snacks are usually something I like, but I couldn’t finish the whole bag of these. Just a bit too salty for me. I see why they put it in such a small bag.
After I crammed the whole box into my stomach in one sitting, here is my final judgment:
- Items I would eat again: 10/16
- Items I couldn’t eat/use: 3/16
- Items I hated: 1/16
- Overall Taste: 8/10
- Customer Service: 7/10 based on me sneakily reaching out with a problem. The response was helpful, but the only obvious way to contact customer service is a form on the website. I’d really rather there was a chat or something more timely… those forms feel dismissive to me. That’s why I dropped some points off.
- Price: $37.50/ month if you pay monthly. It goes down if you buy more, but it charges you all at once.
Overall recommendation: Should you try the Sakuraco snack box?
This was fun to try and I did like most of the snacks. It was a bummer that a few had my (I thought common) allergen, but that’s Japanese food for you. Shellfish happens. Do NOT get this if you’re celiac or have a soy allergy… I can’t imagine there’d be much you could eat.
I did order another month with my own money to enjoy over a longer period of time, which is how I recommend you try this. I’d also suggest doing month-to-month for a few months to see if you’re going to like it. You can always upgrade later, but you don’t want to get stuck with months of snacks you won’t eat. Plus, that pay-up-front model is pretty harsh. I’d consider buying a package if it charged monthly.
If you want to check out pricing and subscription plans, head over to the Sakuraco TokyoTreat website. They have the Halloween box up there right now if you want to see what’s next.
Khai is a writer, anthropologist, and games enthusiast. She is co-editor (alongside Alex DeCampi) of and contributor to “True War Stories”, a comic anthology published by Z2 Comics. When she’s not writing or creating games, Khai likes to run more tabletop RPGs than one person should reasonably juggle.
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