Continuing with my third review in this four-part series on Mr. Z Beef Jerky, is this teriyaki variety. The Mr. Z brand is owned by International Food Company, based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The jerky is manufactured completely in Brazil, and distributed through IFC's USA-based affiliate, International Food Company, USA, LLC.
This brand of jerky has been around since 1998, but it didn't show up on US store shelves until around January 2008.
IFC is putting a lot of effort into branding Mr. Z as an energy snack, and touting it as being made from grass-fed beef instead of grain-fed. They also note it being free of hormones. It is not, however, an organic product.
Thus far, it seems much of their sales comes from discount stores like Dollar Tree, where you can find it for as cheap as $0.25 per ounce.
Beef, water, sugar, soy sauce, salt, smoke flavoring, hydrolyzed soy protein, maltodextrin, garlic powder, soybean oil, onion powder, monosodium glutamate, silicon dioxide, glycol propylene, flavoring, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, caramel color.
The flavors I pick up from the surface of these pieces starts with a smokiness, and a slight sweetness. In the chewing, the flavors I pick up is a slight saltiness, and a faint natural meat flavor.
If I were to chew a piece immediately after putting it into mouth, I taste far less overall.
It's also worth noting the "Best Before" date on the package is Apr 30 2010, so it seems pretty fresh.
As for being a teriyaki variety, this has very little teriyaki flavor. About all I can recognize is a bit of sweetness on the surface of these pieces. Otherwise, I don't get any sense of the soy sauce (aside from a saltiness). The ingredients don't even list the sake/mirin, nor any ginger, which are critical components towards creating teriyaki.
Otherwise the taste that seems to come out the most in this jerky is the saltiness. It's actually somewhat light on an individual piece basis, but after several pieces it becomes quite noticeable, and dominates the palate. I'd say it's moderate in intensity.
There's also a light sweetness that hits my tongue immediately after putting a piece into my mouth, but that quickly dissolves and is all but gone by the time the saltiness makes its entrance. Mixed into that sweetness is some smokiness.
The faint bit of meat flavors is noticeable only when I pause to suck out some flavor, and even then I have to think carefully to find it.
These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced to a medium thickness, and in small pieces. There appears to be about 2 ounces (half of the contents) of crumbled bits in the bottom of the bag.
It's a dry jerky, any amount of bending with the grain will cause it to crack. Even bending against the grain will do the same. It's very easy to tear apart with my fingers, but offering a bit of labored chewing.
The chewing texture seems to chew down into something somewhat crumbly, but still fibrous. It feels like meat, but the meat fibers don't mesh together well. This isn't really much at all steak-like. I don't get anything mushy or gummy, however.
I didn't get much of any tiny fragments falling off as I tore pieces apart, but then these pieces are all small, and don't really require tearing. I'm not picking up any residue on my fingers either.
These pieces seem to be fairly lean. I think I only found one piece with any noticeable amount of fat. I didn't find any tendon or gristle, and no unchewable wads of membranous tissues remaining in my mouth.
Mr. Z. sells this 4 oz package of teriyaki through it's Amazon.com store at a price of $27.12 for a quantity of 6 packages. That price includes the shipping. So it works out to a price of $1.13 per ounce, putting this into the average price range, but towards the cheaper end.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.13 per ounce price, it presents a fair value. I get some snackability from this, maybe just enough to reach for a piece here and there, but I don't really feel enthusiastic about it. The fact that so much of the contents were crumbled bits subtracts from the chewing enjoyment. The low price seems to reflect the quality of this jerky, and keeping the price low is the only way to give consumers any value with this.
As a teriyaki jerky, also at the $1.13 per ounce price, it's a poor value. Even at this lower price, it's a poor value because I got no teriyaki flavor. In fact, had I not known this was marketed as a teriyaki variety, I wouldn't have been able to tell. If what you're wanting is a cheap teriyaki jerky, you'll get cheap, but you won't get teriyaki.
I'm giving this a fair rating.
I got a little bit of snackability from this package of Mr. Z Teriyaki, but it wasn't enough to nudge it up to a higher rating. It's actually quite bland tasting. Without much any natural meat flavors, it has to rely on its seasonings and marinade, and all it seems to offer is mostly salt, with some initial sweet and smoky flavor.
The fact that about half of the contents were crumbled little bits was really disappointing. I don't mind bite sized pieces, but the fact that so much of this jerky were just crumbled bits ruins the chewing enjoyment of beef jerky.
Then the fact that this doesn't even live up to its advertisement as a teriyaki beef jerky creates even more disappointment.
It's still a tolerable jerky however. Except I'm thinking that any price above $1.00 per ounce is too expensive for what you're getting.
I'd recommend some kind of IPA beer with this.
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