Convenience store food might seem like a strange thing to focus on, particularly for a self-proclaimed foodie. If you live or have spent time in the US, you know that prepared foods in convenience stores are generally inferior to even the worst fast food, and often seem like an invitation to food poisoning. So, primed by these experiences, Japan blew me away with convenience store food that’s legitimately good!
Even with the the fantastic public transport in Japanese cities, we did quite a bit of walking, and convenience stores became my go-to for a quick carb infusion. The yummy onigiri (rice balls with assorted fillings), and sandwiches kept me going (and saved the boyfriend from having to suffer through one of my low blood sugar meltdowns).
You actually don’t see many people eating or drinking on trains (with the exception of longer haul trips like the shinkansen), and I tried not to as well. Out of politeness, but also, maybe you should wash the subway off your hands before you tear into that sandwich, young lady.
Feast on everything from fried pork, to egg salad, and fruit & cream dessert sandwiches (at the bottom right). Oh, and potato salad sandwiches! Maybe someday I’ll get to the bottom of the Japanese obsession with potato salad. But I have to admit they’re actually pretty good. The only sandwich downside is the prevalence of white bread.
Ah yes, the scary sushi-from-a-convenience-store. I ate this for breakfast and survived! And it was fairly good sushi: fresh, and about the same quality you find at a kaiten-zushi (and let’s face it, in Japan, this is better than most of what you’re served in the US).
I might be biased, but even the packaged foods are better! In the place of mini microwaveable Chef Boyardee containers are a plethora of instant ramen and udon choices. We didn’t eat in our airbnb apartment or hotel room often, but did have fun picking up new chips and candies to snack on:
How about some Häagen-Dazs vegetable flavored ice cream? (The tomato flavor was strange but good, the carrot just strange).
So yeah, of course there are always better things to eat in Japan, but what you can grab at a convenience store is often just as good as the other quick options. Maybe this is less of a revelation to those of you who’ve grown up in countries with a food culture that focuses more on quality?