Hey folks, it’s tuesday again and, today, we’re taking a look a Geki Kara. A sauce by 3D Spice which stood out massively when it was featured among Bauce Brothers’ Hot 100. Albeit not necessarily for the right reasons.
In fact, I saw a fair bit of controversy around it, at the time, over its high price and the anime-esque, scantily clad, demon girl on its label. Implying that it might not have been the sauce, itself, which they were selling.
Perhaps I’ll mention her again, later on, but, now that all of the initial criticism has died down, what I really want to talk about is whether or not it was actually deserved. Because, with the bottle here in front of me, it’s clear that a lot more has gone into making the product than is immediately obvious online.
Hopefully there’s some real flavour locked inside, rather than it simply relying on a seductive exterior, like people thought.
Normally I’d go straight into discussing that exterior but, today, I think I’d rather save that for last. After I’ve judged the more meaningful contents.
This sauce contains:
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Ghost Jolokia Peppers, Carolina Reaper Peppers, Mineral Water, Rice Vinegar, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Chilli Powder, Black Sesame Seeds, Fine Cut Kelp, Toasted Sesame Seeds, Orange Peel, Ginger, Sichuan Pepper, Organic Red Sea Salt.
And it assures us that it’s one hundred percent extract free and vegan.
Personally, I find some of those ingredients – Especially the mineral water and organic red sea salt – rather pretentious sounding. Yet I also see a good mix of more asian-style items on the list, including things like kelp and orange peel that haven’t graced any of my past reviews.
I’m not sure quite what to make of it, just yet, but it certainly isn’t what I’d expect to see from a sauce cashing in on its label art. So I crack open the heat shrink to give it a go and realise, as I’m turning the bottle, that there aren’t any thickeners or stabilisers in the list above.
Geki Kara separates out more than anything that I’ve ever had before but that’s pretty easy to fix. You just have to shake well between uses. The bigger problem is how much of it appears to be water – Or something with a similar consistency – since that makes even the mixed version an incredibly thin sauce.
Fortunately, 3D spice have an answer for that. Though it’s one which might upset a few people:
Yes, Geki Kara uses a flow restrictor to keep its Tabasco-like consistency in check and stop it from pouring all over the place. Which I know that some of you aren’t too keen on but, personally, I’m a fan.
I appreciate how it gives me control over an otherwise extremely thin sauce and, as long it has the advertised heat and flavour, I really don’t mind it taking a little extra time to fill my spoon. Though what comes out does look worryingly watery:
Thin is fine but the little dribble on my spoon looks like aged cider vinegar, with red chilli shreds and maybe the occasional sesame seed, not anything resembling a sauce. So I’m shocked when I taste it and the flavour really is there.
The tang of the vinegar, yes, but also the bold, savoury richness of the sesame and kelp. Sharp undertones blending together from the onion, reaper and spices to provide an almost citrussy quality, while the deep red chilli of the ghost pairs with that umami base and the vinegar’s aged apple.
I can’t discern any orange, which is a shame, and its slow yet powerful, low
heat carries none of the szechuan pepper’s typical tingle. But it certainly burns the middle of my tongue and warms all the way down.
It’s not a bad sauce, nor a bad heat, and I do rather enjoy using it to heat up noodles, fish, tempura and shepherd’s pie. Albeit in addition to, rather than as a replacement for, the ketchup or brown sauce on the last of those.
I don’t, however, find it especially unique, despite its long list of unusual ingredients. And that I find quite disappointing. It does seem as if 3D Spice have tried but I still feel like the quality of their presentation outweighs that of their results.
The smoke patterned background of the art, the cheeky violent expression of the character, the little gradients in her hair and just the lighting on her, in general, are all spectacular. Her traditional tattoos, the design of her katana and the type of demon that she is all tie very nicely into the japanese style of the sauce. While her thick black outline both helps her stand out and reminds me of the heavy strokes typically found in japanese art.
But 3D Spice haven’t just paid a good artist. They’ve also got some of the highest print quality that I’ve ever seen on a chilli product and a beautiful, waterproof, opalescent label material, to ensure that their character stays looking good through all weather and dinnertime conditions.
The sauce’s name, Geki Kara, is rendered in both japanese kanji and a stylish, mock-japanese font. And, while it literally translates to “very spicy”, I can’t help thinking that the “kara” may also refer to the company’s focus on providing collectible character art on all of their products. Given that it’s a fairly common japanese shorthand for “character”.
So, in summary, I do think that today’s item is selling more on its appearance than its taste but I don’t buy into the accusations that it’s a cash grab at all. The production on this product is top notch, even if the focus isn’t in the usual place, and it’s a beautiful collectible, for those who are into that.
Plus, I know how much character art can cost. So the extra price of this item hardly seems unreasonable.
Personally though, I like an ass-kicking demon girl as much as the next freak but I buy my hot sauce to eat it. Not to sit on my display shelf. And, for that, there are plenty of other, more interesting ghost pepper and carolina reaper products.