6 Must-Try Foods from Japanese Convenience Stores
For people visiting Japan, convenience stores can be incredibly useful. Whether you’re a little bit hungry and looking for a snack, or feeling tired after spending hours searching for a restaurant, you can visit one of the many convenience stores and pick up something delicious. Here, we are going to introduce some of the most delicious foods from convenience stores that don’t need any preparation.
It’s no exaggeration to say that omusubi, round or triangle shaped rice balls filled with all sorts of ingredients, are the national food of Japan. You can find all sorts of omusubi in convenience stores. The typical fillings include salmon, Japanese plum, tuna and mayonnaise, cod roe, katsuobushi, and konbu, but depending on the store, you can also find some more unique fillings as well, such as fried chicken, mayonnaise prawns, and harami steak. For people who aren't used to traditional omusubi, there are others such as teriyaki sausage and mayonnaise omusubi, omusubi shaped fried rice or omelette and rice, and California-roll sushi style salad wrap omusubi. Omusubi cost usually around 100 to 200 JPY. Why not visit a convenience store next time you are out sightseeing and enjoy choosing your favorite omusubi from the wide lineup?
Donuts became widespread in Japanese convenience stores after coffee became part of the regular lineup and 7-Eleven began selling donuts on the counter next to the cash register at its stores. You can find donuts on the counter at 7-Eleven and Lawson, but in Family Mart, they are in the bakery counter. The lineup of donuts depends on the chain, but they all offer a wide range of real donuts that rivals that of dedicated donuts stores, including old fashioned donuts, glazed donuts and custard cream filled donuts that go really well with a cup of coffee. At about 100 JPY a donut, they are very reasonably priced. Why not pick up some convenience store donuts the next time you are out sightseeing and want something sweet as a pick-me-up?
Similar to the omusubi mentioned above, convenience stores in Japan offer all sorts of different types of bread and sandwiches in. Western style items such as hot-dogs and pizza are also common, but while you are in Japan why not try some of the more unique local sandwiches and bread?
Curry-pan, or curry bread, is a type of fried bread where the curry sauce is wrapped in dough, coated with breadcrumbs and fried. Curry-pan is particularly popular with foreign tourists in Japan for its unique flavor and texture. Croquette-pan (croquette sandwich) or menchikatsu-pan (menchi katsu is minced meat fried into a patty) are, as the names suggest, croquettes or menchi patties in a hot dog bun, usually topped with Worcester sauce. The salty sweet flavor of the fried croquette or menchi goes incredibly well with the bread for a truly unique and delicious sandwich.
There are many other types of sandwich made with all sorts of ingredients, such as yakisoba-pan, a hot dog bun filled with yakisoba, or a tamago roll, a sandwich filled with egg salad. If you see anything that catches your eye, why not try it? These products cost around 100 JPY.
In Japanese convenience stores, next to the cash register you’ll find a rectangular pot similar to that in the picture filled with all sorts of different ingredients. This is called Oden, a Japanese dish of daikon (Japanese radish), chikuwa, konnyaku, boiled egg, fried tofu, and other ingredients boiled in a soup flavored with soy sauce and/or other ingredients. Although it does depend on the store, it is usually a self service system where you put the ingredients you want in a container and add the sauce yourself. The soy sauce-based sauce gives Oden a very mild flavor. All of the ingredients are healthy, which makes it great as a late night snack, and ideal for when you are looking to eat something warm. The price varies depending on the ingredients, but usually costs around 70 JPY for one piece. As one of the easier to eat Japanese dishes, we really recommend you add Oden to your list of things to try in Japan.
As winter draws near, Japanese convenience stores begin selling chuuka-man, or Chinese-style buns. The buns, as you can guess from the name, are originally from China, and are steamed buns made with fermented flour and can be filled with a variety of ingredients. The typical type of chuuka-man you’ll find is the niku-man, which is filled with pork, green onion, shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and other ingredients fried in soy sauce and oyster sauce to which a Chinese flavoring is added. The texture of the soft dough and the hot, juicy filling will keep you wanting more. As well as niku-man, you can also find all sorts of other types of chuuka-man, including pizza-man, with a pizza flavored filling, curry-man, with a curry filling, and an-man, made with sweet bean paste. At about 100 JPY, they make a great hot snack and are something to remember while you are traveling around Japan.
At Japanese convenience stores, you can find all sorts of different types of custard pudding, known as purin in Japanese. And on top of this, the purin sold at convenience stores are usually even smoother and softer than the purin sold at supermarkets or other places. Each convenience store chain is developing their own original purin, and they are all the real thing. Foreign visitors to Japan are often surprised at the melt-in-the-mouth texture of the custard pudding in Japan’s convenience stores. As well as the convenience store chain’s own original purin, you can often find purin from famous sweet makers. At around 100 JPY, why not try out Japan’s delicious custard puddings?
Japanese convenience stores have a wide range of delicious foods, so if you’re a little hungry, or looking to save a little bit of money on your food budget, there will definitely be something for you.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.