Our toughest blind taste test yet – can our writers pick out the more expensive mochi?
This rice cake challenge proved tough for even our most experienced mochi eater.
It is time once again for our famous Gourmet Writers’ Rating Check, in which the team at SoraNews24 show off how refined their palettes are by blind taste testing two food products and picking out which one is more expensive.
The food to be tested this time was mochi, a rice cake that’s made by pounding glutinous rice. As always, these Gourmet Writers’ Rating Checks are not for our team to choose which one they think is the tastiest, but which one they think is the most expensive. So let’s check out what they’ll be tasting today.
The more expensive, high quality mochi (fittingly named ‘The Omochi‘) is made by Kasahara, a company with a long history of making mochi. It costs 1,296 yen (US$9.99) for a pack of ten, and promises a ‘quality taste from old-time methods’ on the packaging.
Battling against The Mochi is Echigo Seika’s mochi, which can be bought from any supermarket across Japan. It costs 578 yen for roughly a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of mochi, making The Omochi about four and a half times more expensive in terms of weight.
Mochi is a food that is best eaten accompanied with something else to give it a bit more flavour, but this time the gang were eating plain mochi, making this “Writers’ Check” the toughest one yet. Let’s see how they got on!
● P.K. Sanjun: A
P.K.: There’s no way to tell these two apart. They’re both just mochi. One doesn’t taste any more expensive than the other one. But I guess if I had to pick, B kind of fell apart in my mouth quicker, so I’ll go with A. It’s just a hunch though.
● Go Hatori: A
Go: Wow, A tastes good! A tastes like rice, whereas B tastes more like a senbei rice cracker. It’s probably something to do with the way that the mochi is baked. I’m going to go with which one tastes more like rice, which is A. But it’s a really tough challenge this time!
● Ahiruneko: A
Ahiruneko: Mochi is mochi. There’s no such thing as a good-tasting mochi and there’s no such thing as a bad-tasting mochi. This challenge is impossible. There’s no way to tell which one is premium. Even if I guessed right, it would be through sheer luck.
I guess if I had to say something, A is slightly sweeter than B, and B has a bit of a powdery surface to it. I’ll go with A, but just barely.
● Yuuichiro Wasai: B
Yuuichiro: I have no idea!! I’ve never really paid much attention to how mochi tastes when I’ve eaten it in the past. I feel like B had a slightly smoother taste. If A was made of cotton, B was made of silk. I’ll go with the smoothness and pick B.
● Masanuki Sunakoma: B
Masanuki: I actually really like mochi. When I lived in Fukuoka, I made and ate mochi a lot. I probably eat about ten times more mochi than the average guy, so I feel like I have a real advantage here.
A is just a normal rice cake. The firmness and the aroma of the mochi is just normal. B, on the other hand, tastes like I’m being transported across the Japanese landscape itself. I’ve eaten mochi like A many times, but this is my first time eating mochi like B.
● Seiji Nakazawa: B
Seiji: I hardly ever eat mochi! I’m pretty confident that I’ll get this wrong because I have no idea. I guess I’ll go with B though. The viscosity of B was mochi-like. A seemed more like a rice flour dumpling.
B feels like it would taste sweeter when dipped in soy sauce, too, especially compared to A. B was just tastier.
● Mr. Sato: B
Mr. Sato: How is anyone supposed to tell the difference? This is definitely the hardest challenge so far. But here’s my answer — B. Why? No reason whatsoever.
I guess A was slightly more spongy than B, but really, all I’m saying is that it just has to be B. That’s all. I really can’t tell the difference at all.
● Takashi Harada: A
Takashi: I don’t eat mochi at all, but I think it’s A. A tasted better the moment it entered my mouth. Also, B had more of an aftertaste. A was genuinely tastier and didn’t leave as much of an aftertaste.
● Yoshio: B
Yoshio: I don’t eat mochi much these days, but I like it a lot. And this is really easy; it’s B. B was thick and delicious, and there wasn’t any cloying aftertaste. B was sweeter and had an old-fashioned, rustic taste, and A just tasted kind of plastic-y. But the deciding factor for me was the thickness. B was nice and thick.
▼ The guesses were pretty evenly divided, with four people guessing A and five people guessing B.
Previous Writers’ Checks have seen winning guesses formed on some sort of solid theory — for example, firmness was a huge factor in picking the premium fishcakes, and the level of sweetness influenced decisions in the persimmon challenge — but there didn’t seem to be any common themes in the guesses this time. However, those who were pretty confident in their guesses — Yoshio and Masanuki — both went with B.
So without further ado, the premium, more expensive mochi, made with ‘old-time methods’ is…
In a shocking twist of events, A turned out to be the more expensive of the two. A devastating blow to all those who picked B, especially Masanuki, who had said with such confidence, “I have a real advantage here.”
Let’s look at the current rankings in the Gourmet Writers’ Ratings Check, with everyone’s win rates included as well.
▼ P.K. Sanjun: 22 wins/6 losses (78.5 percent win rate) — “It’s just a hunch that it’s A.”
▼ Seiji Nakazawa: 17 wins/5 losses (77.2 percent win rate) — “A seemed like a rice flour dumpling.”
▼ Go Hatori: 16 wins/9 losses (64 percent win rate) — “I believed in A, because it tasted more like rice.”
▼ Ahiruneko: 15 wins/9 losses (62.5 percent win rate) — “It was a complete hunch.”
▼ Masanuki Sunakoma: 16 wins/11 losses (59.2 percent win rate) — “I could taste the Japanese landscape.”
▼ Takashi Harada: 14 wins/11 losses (56 percent win rate) — “A tasted better the moment it entered my mouth.”
▼ Yuichiro Wasai: 11 wins/10 losses (52.3 percent win rate) — “B tasted silkier.”
▼ Yoshio: 12 wins/11 losses (52.1 percent win rate) — “A tasted like plastic.”
The mochi challenge was our most difficult challenge to date, and the rankings have changed as a result; P.K has climbed up to first place and Yoshio dropped down to second from last. The last place position is still unchanged though…
▼ Mr Sato: 12 wins/12 losses (50 percent win rate) — “Here’s my answer — B. Why? No reason whatsoever.”
▼ Watch the whole battle take place in the video below —
So Mr. Sato remains firmly in last place with his almost unbelievable 50/50 win rate, but the Gourmet Writers’ Rating Check is far from complete, and if today’s results are anything to go by it’s still anyone’s game. Will P.K’s hunches and intuition help him maintain his top at the spot? Will Masanuki ever be able to recover from his “huge advantage” comment? Will Mr. Sato ever rank higher than absolute last? Find out in the next Gourmet Writers’ Rating Check Challenge!
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[ Read in Japanese ]