It is finally here! Foreign food trends often take a long time to spread to Japan. After all, jar salads are taking off like crazy right now, a good three years after they first took off in the states. One of the more surprising new additions to Japanese supermarkets recently has been Greek Yogurt.
I had a few friends visit me this year from abroad. We went shopping, and they kept asking me for Greek yogurt. I laughed at them and said, “in Japan, you eat Japanese yogurt”. I assumed it could only be found at high-end grocers and specialty shops like Dean and Deluca, which we don’t have in Kumamoto. Imagine my surprise, when my friends laughed back, and pointed at the large chilled display advertising Greek yogurt, with an English label to boot!
So far, two companies seem to offer this tasty breakfast option: Partheno by Morinaga and my personal favourite, Aeon. Check them out below.
The Aeon version comes in 5 flavours so far: Plain, Honey, Vanilla, Aloe, and Caramel.
This yogurt is thick and creamy, perfect just as it is, or mixed with some cereal and fruit for something more substantial. I also make sour cream out of this one (because sour cream is expensive here) by flipping it upside down in a colander with a paper towel, putting it in the fridge for a day, then mixing in some lemon and a little pepper. You can also use it for other cooking substitutes, and in other recipes, like mixing with dill for salmon, or mixing with brandy for dessert.
This option is great as well, but a little sweet for my taste. The top is thick and creamy plain Greek yogurt, but when you mix in your spoon, there is a very thick layer of honey on the bottom. Again, it is a little too much for me all mixed up, but digging the spoon in and getting a mix of honey and yogurt gives you a blend of sweet and tart.
Acai and Fruit
As you can see by the label, this flavour is fairly new. Acai is another big thing in Japan right now, being found in everything from juice to supplements. This yogurt is amazing. I didn’t think anything could change my mind about plain being the best, but the thick layer of fruit on the bottom isn’t too sweet, it has a strong berry flavour, and in my opinion is just perfect. You don’t need to add anything, it is fine the way it is. Berry full and delicious.
Please note: As of 2017, Acai and Fruit is no longer for sale.
Although I prefer Aeon, the flavour game is strong with Partheno. Initially introduced in 2014, using the traditional Greek way to make yogurt, I have no idea why I didn’t spot it earlier. According to the website, the company has perfected the three straining methods to make the yogurt extra creamy and authentically Greek. Morinaga is famous for its dairy products, and they produce some very fine products!
Although smaller than Aeon (80 Grams compared to 110 Grams), the yogurt is yummy. The fact that the honey and sauce are often packaged separately, it makes it easier to adjust to your liking. For me, it is the honey. This way, I can add just a little, and use the rest for toast, rather than having to mix it up or dig it out of a package. I also like the thickness of this yogurt, which is great for cooking, in addition to just eating. Just be sure to mix it all up good before eating, Greek yogurt is finicky like that, liquid on the top, the good stuff underneath.
They also have a crazy variety of flavors. Check them out below:
This one is not as thick as the Aeon version, a little runny, but the size is a little more convenient for the morning. The taste is still Greekish and yummy. Plain. Simple. Good.
Loving this. LOVING it. Just because, as mentioned above, you can adjust the only amount yourself, a little or a lot. Personally, I just use the extra honey for other things, tea, toast, catching ants in the kitchen. Actually, the extra honey packet is the perfect size for most foods needing a little sweet pick me up.
Haven’t tried it myself yet, but looking forward to the day I do! Japan is all about the strawberry, but we all know raspberry is where it’s at!
Again, haven’t tried personally, but the reviews are good! The sauce is at the bottom, much like the Aeon acai sauce. Blueberry! Sauce! Yum!
Well! This one seems the most convenient! After all, cutting up grapefruit is a royal pain, and then you have to throw away the peels. I want this! Actually, I just want the sauce. Grapefruit sauce. Yum yum!
Please note: As of 2017, the grapefruit flavor is no longer on sale.
Upon further inspection, I realized why I hadn’t noticed it before. Apparently, in my local supermarkets, there are only the plain and honey versions. Tucked in the top corner of the yogurt shelf, obscure and lonely looking. However, the day I see that raspberry option, I will attack it like a birthday kid on cake. It just looks so yummy. I’ve also seen fig, aloe, and mango flavours on the internet, but not in real life.
Morinaga has a great English website where you can get product information, recipes, and more. The recipes using Greek yogurt look phenomenal. Prices depend on supermarkets, but many local supermarkets sell the honey for 160 yen (plus tax) according to the Morinaga Website. I am sure you can find it cheaper in other stores, such as Direx and Trial discount stores.
So, there you have it. If you are craving Greek yogurt or just a change from the usual, give these brands a try. After all, the Greeks are known for their young and healthy looks!