After a lamentable streak of snappy, cold, bloomy, old chocolate bars (ugh what a waste), popping into the Royce pop-up in Chicago was a welcome treat. There, I was welcomed to a complimentary tasting (don’t mind if I do) of their most popular items: Nama chocolates in both matcha and bitter chocolate, as well as white chocolate caramel covered potato chips. Everything was SO GOOD. (do not be put off by the efficient shop vibe, that’s just how they do in Japan)
White chocolate caramel potato chips explain themselves: crunchy, salty, sweet, craveable, so let’s chat about Nama. Nama probably means “mind blowing” in Japanese, bc that’s what happened here. The Nama chocolates are made using fresh Hokkaido cream and come (with a baby knife!) in a little tray similar to Turkish delight. They are kept cool and are dusted in cocoa (or matcha) for that fresh pow appeal, and have a hint of liquor to help enhance the cocoa (or matcha) flavor. These little cubes are so soft, super flavorful, smooth, melt-in-your-mouth whoa. Like you know when you get a cold pat of butter at a restaurant and it won’t spread and it doesn’t taste like anything? This is the opposite of that. It is chocolate magic, defying the laws of temperature logic.
Although it was approx 10 degrees outside when I visited Royce, they were sure to protect my chocolates from any possible danger of melting. How? Well they wrapped my purchase in an insulated pocket and added a mini ice pack. Gasp! For real. Royce isn’t messing around.
Unfortunately, there was one chocolate that wasn’t available to taste – the Fruit Bar Chocolate. Imagine if Carebears made KitKats: slim pink chocolate bars made with strawberry, mango, cranberry, banana and almond puff – sans wafers but avec crispies. (something to keep in mind: Chinese New Year is January 28 and according to Royce insider trading, basically everything will be sampleable during the weekend celebration – cockadoodledoo!)
Royce has about 70 locations throughout Asia, but if your schedule is too busy for international flight (same), you can hopefully get over to one of their US shops: a few in NY, one in Vegas, the Chicago pop-up at 520 N. Michigan, or their location in the Mitsuwa Marketplace.