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Oct 29, 2007 11:46 AM

Really Great Senbei?

When I visited Japan, I acquired a taste, unfortunately, for really good senbei (those crunchy soy-dipped crackers). I haven't been able to find any for sale here in the states. Does anyone have suggestions? Any sources for top-notch imported stuff? Or are there any great american-made senbei?

I'm not talking about pretty good senbei...supermarket senbei like trader joe's or the stuff you find for a couple bucks per bag in asian markets. i mean the artisinal stuff.

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    1. re: Jim Leff

      Try Umeya Rice Cake Company.

      Dunno if it is "aritsinal" enough for you, but this place makes good rice crackers of all kinds, including senbei. Located in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles.

      Good luck with your search.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        cool, sounds good, thanks!

        woops, meant to type "artisanal"

    2. I live off of senbei! The Mitsuwa marketplace is Costa Mesa has a very wide selection. They also have an independent vendor in the market that sells authentic senbei in lovely little packages.....yummmm......

      1 Reply
      1. re: koshie

        I've been to the Mitsuwa in NJ. I swear I'm not being snobby on this, but any senbei that's $2-7 for a bag is not going to be the serious, hand-crafted stuff. And that's all these markets sell.

        As for the lovely (and expensive) packages, that sounds better. There's a vendor like that in NJ, too, but they sell, alas, senbei that are fancy/authentic/hand-crafted, but not particularly delicious.

        The really good stuff is vexingly hard to find...

      2. I'm only a half a year too late with this, but in case you still watch the thread and are still looking, have you tried imported Hasoda Brothers available mail order through the Takahashi market in San Mateo? Talk to Gene.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Brockage

          Thanks, I'm on it!

          I see from their catalog, at
          that they have some hard-to-find hawaiin stuff, too.

          1. re: Jim Leff

            Sembei is perishable; as a result, the competion in Japan insures that it is next to impossible to find great replicas here. Even if you do, you need the corespondingly great green tea like certain Sayama-cha varieties. Then, you need to master the technique of making the green tea and get it down pat. Consequently, I think it's easier to fly to Japan to eat good sembei than it is to get it here.

        2. Perhaps it is because I have never had the good stuff, but I have never acquired a taste for senbei, even thought I like most Japanese food. It leaves a very strange aftertaste in my mouth. Is that because I have only had the "cheap stuff"? (specifically i am referring to the ararae style of senbei).

          2 Replies
          1. re: KaimukiMan

            Yeah, the good stuff is pure of aftertaste. Though freshness also plays a part, for sure.

            1. re: Jim Leff

              Hey Leff-san,

              If you find the good stuff, lemme know. I've got a monkey on my back like a tourist in Nikko!


          2. From my experience, the very best I have ever had are all toothbreakingly hard, and very solid and heavy. Unlike the light, airy ones you can find everywhere.

            The only aftertaste they give would be the taste of freshly-roasted rice.

            1 Reply
            1. re: tarteaucitron

              Yeah, there's a bit of a Bagel Test at work. The easier they are to eat, the more fake they are!

              But seriously....bear in mind that there are many variety of senbei. I've had light airy incredible ones in Japan. Also some with a malty/soy aftertaste. One thing's for sure, though...aftertaste should be PURE.