Friday, July 27, 2007

It's all in the packaging

Ever bought something just because the packaging was cute? I do it all the time. Especially with Japanese goods. I see something with Hello Kitty on it and bam~! I just gotta have it. Though it's not so much the kitten as it is design and color. Like that lychee Calpico at Famima was just begging to be bought. Good thing I have will-power.

Cool product design was what also attracted me to Otokomae tofu last week at Nijiya market. The first shipment had sold out, so when I went back for their second shipment I stood in front of the refrigerated section for a good 15 minutes just admiring the packaging. There's about 5 different types of tofu all described as being creamy-smooth. So I randomly picked out two packages and made them my next two meals. Mind you, these guys aren't cheap. They range from $4 to $6 a pack.

The salesman recommended not using the tofu in miso soup. Pour some honey on it and eat it as-is, he suggested. Hmm, that's just plain weird. Never have I had tofu with something sweet. Sounds like a strange American concoction. But I did as he said, and you know what? It was pretty good.

It's certainly creamy. Like eating Japanese cheesecake without the sugar. The above one is called "
Kaze ni fukarete tofu-ya Johnny," which translates as "Johnny, the Tofu Maker Blown by the Wind." Say what?! Exqueeze me? Baking powder?

The next day, I tasted one made from black soy beans grown in Hokkaido, Japan. It was called "Otokomae Black" but was emblazoned with the Chinese character for man. It had a more rustic flavor to it. I never imagined eating tofu right out of the tub, but there I was scooping into it bit-by-bit. It had me going but I did get a little bored after a while and added some ponzu sauce. And then I dumped it in some miso soup. Later I realized it really is best eaten in the raw.

I told a coworker about Otokomae and he started scratching his head wondering what all the hoopla was about. Meiji Tofu shop in Torrance has been hand-making its own tofu for years, so how is this product any better, he questioned.

Simple answer: Product design.
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Tokyoastrogirl said...

Honey on tofu?! That does sound pretty weird but I suppose that it wouldn't be bad....and I do like cheescake so maybe I'll give it a go. Do you really think the tofu is worth the price? The black one does look good, although psychologically I think I'd expect it to taste like kurogoma, you know?

I totally got suckered into buying that Hello Kitty Lychee Calpico- hey- they were offering Hello Kitty badges if I bought two so of course I did!! When I got home, I took one sip and pretty much guzzled both bottles that day....WOWOWOWOW. It's my new favorite drink and I don't even really like sweet drinks. Cho UMAI!

Jeni said...

Package whore!!!

darkhunter said...

I just found your blog and it's quite amazing. There's a lot of places around LA that I have not been yet and so your blog is really helpful. Keep up the good work.

Pirikara said...

Hey TAG...missed ya last weekend! sniff~ You've convinced me to buy that Kitty drink!

Yes, jeni, I'm a package whore. I'm such a sucker.

Hi Dark Hunter. You seem to like manga... have you ever been to Japan?

Doug Cress said...

Japanese foodstuff can be too damn cute at times!

darkhunter said...

I've never been to Japan...i haven't even been to lil tokyo either even though I work like 5 min away. But Japan is definitely one of the top spots I want to visit one day, maybe once I finish college. =)