Saturday, November 5, 2011
Retort Report: Beef Curry LEE X5
Glico is probably most known for the savory Pretz and related chocolate covered Pocky sticks. In the realm of retort pouch curry they seem to only offer two or three products compared to other major players (like House and S&B) who produce more than a dozen variants each. In this vast sea of box curry competition, underdog Glico had managed to secure a sizable market with their niche LEE brand by jumping onto the then Geki Kara "Extreme Heat" wagon back in the boom's mid-Eighties peak.
According to Wiki Japan, it seems the X1 isn't available anymore and the X5 heat level sharing here their current least spicy entry. For the more adventurous an X10 and X20 is available and even a limited run X30, featured every Summer with different novelty chili pepper blends for those who dare. This year's 2011 feature was the hotter than Habanero, Jolokia (aka the "ghost pepper").
I've had LEE products in the past but probably been at least ten years since. At X5 it's definitely noticeably tingly hot but not crazy facial tick hot. There's an immediate hit of pleasurable black pepper notes while for the most part the majority of heat is the kind that slowly creeps up thanks to the red chilli blend.
The important factor that the company stressed well through marketing is that it's not just hot, but a heat backed with substance. While I was also surprised to find a good amount of leaner beef pieces, flavor wise it has a much more pronounced and sophisticated spice profile compared to typical retoruto karee's. Still in the end the familiar thicker viscosity and umami rich rue designed for optimum hakumai rice consumption makes it unmistakably Japanese style curry. Definitely a nice to have option in my pantry when I can get my hands on them.