Mention the word Royce and you either get a blank stare or a stream of praises that border on worshipful reverence. A chocolate brand hailing from Hokkaido, Japan, Royce has a loyal cult following of people who hoard boxes of these chocolates. Despite not being a chocolate fan, I made sure I had time to pick up a couple of boxes when I went to Singapore recently. I was very curious, “Why the fuss over chocolates?”
I brought home three boxes of chocolates. The Royce’ Potatochip Chocolate which totally intrigued me when I heard about it from Toni and the much vaunted Nama Chocolate which was said to be melt in the mouth good. Each box set me back by SGD14. Not as expensive as, say Godiva but still pricey enough for me to hesitate about buying more.
The first box I opened was the Potatochip Chocolate. I was worried about what Manila weather could do to the chocolate, yet I didn’t want to refrigerate since I was worried about what the fridge would do to the potato chips as well. So what’s a girl to do? Opening the bag, I was faced with large, rippled potato chips, doused on one side with rich, creamy chocolate. Because of the temperature, the chocolate was a bit on the soft side, coating your tongue with a thick, chocolaty blanket as soon as it touches your tongue, immediately followed by the savory saltiness of the actual potato chip.
While it was good with a lovely melding of flavor and texture, I couldn’t eat much after a certain point, I felt like my taste buds were being assaulted by the intensity of the flavors. Others will probably disagree with me but personally, a few chips is enough to satisfy. I took the risk of refrigerating what I had left and thankfully, it was still good even after that.
The other chocolate I bought, the Nama Chocolate was the one that really piqued my curiosity. It’s the one that has people spouting poetry. Plus, the fact that it comes wrapped in an insulated bag with an icepack made my eyebrows rise. All that, just for chocolate?
Described by fans as orgasmic melt-in-your-mouth chocolaty goodness, I was still a skeptic. “It’s just chocolate,” besides, it’s not really much to look at. Just small, plain, powdery looking squares. After taking a few photos, I popped one in my mouth.
*INSERT FIREWORKS HERE*
The Nama Chocolate is pure bliss. The first thing that hits your mouth is the strong, bitter cocoa powder. It coats your tongue with bitterness for a split second, setting the stage for the cold, creamy, rich chocolaty goodness that gently melts on your tongue, assaulting your senses with all that is divine. The world is suddenly a better place. I suspect it has a higher concentration of butterfat or maybe they infuse it with something to create that smooth texture. Still, we all need to indulge sometimes and Royce is definitely worth it.
There is a subtle hint of liqueur somewhere—I did try the Champagne variant after all, but it’s a pleasant, complementary flavor, heightening the creaminess of the chocolate. It’s not one of those ritzy liqueur filled bonbons that explode with strong flavors. It’s a pleasing, comforting bite of chocolate that soothes rather than titillates.
A friend told me that Nama means either fresh or raw in Japanese. In this case, it probably means fresh, denoting freshly made chocolate. Nama chocolate is highly perishable, with a relatively short shelf life (the box I bought expires in October) and needs to be kept below 10 degrees. Another friend also shared that her box melted once and it turned into a disgusting glop as the oils separated. Still, despite the hassle it entails, I find it all worth it. It’s really THAT GOOD. The only thing I find lamentable is the fact that you can’t stockpile much because it expires rather quickly and is really best enjoyed fresh.
Because it’s quite hard to find locally, it’s a favorite pabilin when people travel but I heard that Konbini, a Japanese convenience store in Greenhills, sells it locally.
Who knew chocolate, and such an unassuming little piece could enslave me, Ms.-I-don’t-have-a-sweet-tooth? Just goes to show two things. One, it pays to keep an open mind. And two, Japan is an awesome, awesome country.
Grab some Royce from Konbini, along Connecticut St. in Greenhills. Reserve a box. Call them at 0916-6141935 (mobile) and 7224263 (landline).
Going to Singapore?
Get your Royce fix from the Royce kiosk right outside the supermarket area of Takashimaya Shopping Center in Ngee Ann City along Orchard Road.