Convenience stores usually have a variety of warm food and drinks in glass cases by the cash register, which are great for when you are feeling peckish. This time, we introduce tasty food and drinks you can buy at convenience store counters that are perfect as snacks.
The coffee machines at convenience stores offer coffee shop grade, freshly-brewed coffee made with freshly-ground beans starting at 100 JPY (incl. tax). There is a selection of hot and cold coffee, and even cafe latte. The staff will give you a cup when you order and pay at the register, so you can set the coffee machine to your preference and prepare your own coffee. At some convenience stores, such as Lawson, the staff will make the coffee for you. Each chain has its special beans, so you can go to different stores and compare the flavors.
Oden is a Japanese one-pot dish of a variety of ingredients, such as egg, daikon radish, and satsuma age made from fish paste, cooked in a dashi broth. At convenience stores, you can choose the ingredients you want and purchase as many as you wish. They are reasonably priced between around 80 JPY and 260 JPY each. The takeaway container size changes depending on the amount you order, so let the convenience store staff know in advance how many ingredients you intend to purchase. At some convenience stores, you can put the ingredients in a container yourself then pay for them. It is available all year at some chains but not during the summer at others.
Chuka-man are soft buns made from a dough of flour and other ingredients, which is set aside to let it rise. The dough is then used to wrap a variety of ingredients before steaming. These hot steamed buns are available from the display case next to the cash register. There are a variety of buns ranging from savory ones, including the standard niku-man (with a filling of pork and vegetables), pizza-man which is almost like eating a pizza, and curry-man with a filling of curry, to sweet ones like an-man with sweet bean paste and choco-man with chocolate. They are available from about 110 JPY to 200 JPY each. As with oden, some convenience stores sell them year round and others do not have them in the summer.
4. Croquettes and Menchi Katsu
Croquettes, which are made by mashing boiled potatoes, mixing them with ground meat, and deep frying them, are everyday favorites of Japanese people, and are available at about 100 JPY each. They are crunchy on the outside and warm and fluffy on the inside. They are in cases at the counter to keep them warm, so you can have them hot at any time. If you want something a bit more substantial, get the menchi katsu, which is a deep-fried ground meat patty. The sweetness of the onions and the juices of the meat in it are fantastic. The croquettes and menchi katsu sold at convenience stores are tasty and perfect as snacks or as part of a meal.
5. American Dog and Frankfurter
American dogs are perfect for eating while walking. They are Japanese-style corn dogs made by deep frying battered sausages. Unlike corn dogs which have cornmeal batter, the batter of American dogs is made with flour, sugar and eggs. They are cost efficient snacks that will fill you up, coming with a price tag of around 100 JPY. Many of the frankfurters are large with descriptors like "big" and "jumbo", and are available for about 150 JPY.
6. Deep Fried Chicken
The deep fried chicken available from the convenience store counters is particularly popular, as it lets you have freshly fried chicken at any time. They are so popular that many convenience stores have a variety of options, such as regular fried chicken, bite size chicken nuggets, karaage, and karaage skewers. The prices range from around 50 JPY to 230 JPY, depending on the type. The karaage is particularly popular to have as a part of a meal. Deep fried chicken that is cheaper than at specialty restaurants, but just as good, is a convenience store gourmet item you'll want to try.
Yakitori are grilled chicken skewers. Most convenience stores advertise that their yakitori are charcoal grilled, so they are grilled with a lot of thought and care even if they are not grilled on site. They are usually available in soy sauce flavor and salt flavor. They are convenient as snacks on their own or with a drink. Prices are generally around 130 JPY.
8. French Fries
French fries, which are a fast-food staple, are also available at convenience stores. They range in types from crunchy ones, to soft ones, skin-on ones and thick-cut ones depending on the chain. For example, FamilyMart is particular about the source of the potatoes, and sells Famipote (skin-on) (108 JPY (incl. tax)), made with creamy potatoes from Europe. It might be fun to go around all the convenience stores to try their fries.
9. Soft Serve
Ministop is a convenience store chain that serves soft serve ice cream that is made behind the counter. It offers vanilla flavor, made with the highest quality vanilla, as well as special seasonal flavors. Past seasonal flavors included fruit flavors such as strawberry, melon and mango, as well as Belgian chocolate and Mont Blanc (chestnut), so there is always great soft serve ice cream regardless of the time of year. It will be interesting to see what flavors are available when you visit.
10. Hot Water
Did you know that if you buy items that require hot water, like cup ramen, cup soup or cup miso soup, at a convenience store, they provide you with the hot water free of charge? Most convenience stores have electric hot water pots on the counter so you can add the water once you've paid for the product. You can also get free chopsticks and utensils at the register when you're paying, so you can enjoy your cup meal right away. Why not take advantage of this?
Convenience stores, where you can easily buy food in small quantities, are great places to stave off your hunger while seeing the sights or shopping. Some stores have eat-in corners where you can sit down and enjoy the food that you've just purchased.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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