Rice and Shine 2017 : 101 Guide to Japanese Rice Snacks

Do you love to snack? I do. 

In fact, not only me but my family and friends enjoy snacking, especially Japanese snacks. I know that snacking is usually considered as an unhealthy habit but do you know that snacks, if chosen wisely, can aid in hunger and weight management? 

So here comes rice snacks, a low-calorie and healthier alternative that could quell hunger pangs and avoid bingeing or overeating in the next meal. 
In a bid to raise awareness on rice snacks and their nutritional value in Singapore, a Japanese rice snack fair "Rice and Shine" was held on 23 September (Saturday) at Chinatown Point.

The event not only saw the participation of various rice snack manufacturers from different prefectures in Japan but also cooking demonstrations and nutritional talks.

According to Mr Derrick Ong (above), accredited dietician of Orchard Medical Specialists Centre, there are plenty of reasons why rice snack is the healthy choice.

1) For people with coeliac disease, rice crackers are a great go-to gluten free snack provided that there are no wheat additives.

2) For people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), plain rice snacks without wheat, onion or garlic additives are a good low FODMAP snack.

3) For people who need to watch their blood sugar levels, rice crackers which are made of wholegrains like brown rice would make a lower GI snack.

Here's a quick run-through on the participating rice snacks company:
Brand: Amanoya
Must-try Snack: Kabukiage
Founded in 1951 from Tokyo, Amanoya started manufacturing fried rice cracker from 1954. Kabukiage, a traditional fried and flavoured with soy sauce, was invented in 1960. This popular old school snack can be found almost everywhere including university canteen shops! 

Brand: Bonchi
Must-Try: Uni Agesen
Founded in 1931, Tokyo,  BONCHI CO., LTD have been inventing a variety of rice crackers and the most recommended product being the Uni (sea-urchin) flavoured. To be honest, I love this more than the real uni!
Brand: Echigo Seika
Must-Try: Funwari Meijin Kinako Mochi (bursts and vanishes in your mouth)
Founded in 1947, Niigata, ECHIGO SEIKA CO.,LTD has been one of the most famous company dealing with rice products that is not limited to rice crackers. There's even dried noodles, vacuum-packed rice, rice cakes, etc.
Brand: Narumiya
Must-try Snack: Bubu Arare
Founded in 1923, Kyoto, NARUMIYA has been producing rice crackers using 100% of Japanese rice. Beyond the usual rice crackers, they also produce small rice crackers to put as rice toppings as well. Their products are loved by people in Kyoto as snacks with tea.
Brand: Osama Rice Crackers
Must-try Snack: Halal certified Okaki
Specialises in okaki, which is made of rice to make rice cakes. They started to export their products to Europe in 1950 as a pioneer. Their okaki products are Halal-certified and vegetarian.
Brand: Iwatsuka
Must-try Snack: RICE STYLE (p.s. go for their addictive Siracha flavour) 
Founded in 1947, Niigata, IWATSUKA CONFECTIONERY CO LTD uses 100% Japanese rice and partners with selected farmers to supply the special ingredients. One of their signature product, RICE STYLE, is gluten free and rich in fibers. 
Brand: Kingodo Seika
Must-try Snack: Horohoro Yaki Wajio
They use specially selected Japanese rice and US rice as their ingredients. In order to avoid unwanted smell from steamed rice cake, they always use clean water to wash the rice.
Brand: Bourbon
Must-try: Cheese Okaki (I think this needs no introduction!)
Bourbon was founded in 1924 under the name Kita Nihon Seika (North Japan Confectionery). It started making candy drops using a Japanese machine and slowly rise to popularity and entered the candy market in 1984 with its famous cheese okaki, a perfect mixture of shoyu rice crackers and cheese within

Brand: Morihaku
Must-try: Kongari Corn Rice Cracker
Founded in 1948, from Gifu City. Keeping with the use of traditional method, MORIHAKU CO. aims to invent new flavour. Catch interesting ones like Salmon mayonaise, Ebi-mentaiko, tom yam goong, cheese curry, chilli oil and so on.  

While not every snack is available for purchase yet in Singapore, most of the items can be found in major supermarkets including Fairprice Finest, Meidiya, Isetan Jurong and Iroha Mart. It was a fun and educational afternoon as the public not only got the opportunity to savour and interact with representatives from the snack manufacturing companies but also learn about the value of rice snacks.

Next time when you visit supermarkets or travel to Japan, don't forget to stock up on these healthy rice snacks!