Traveling is a way to see another side of the world. It’s not just about the beautiful sceneries or cultures, but also good food. As a person who loves Japanese food, of course I didn’t waste my time while I had a chance to visit Japan. Authentic Japanese food is the main goal, of course, but if you want to spend less money on food, this country has so much more to offer: konbini food. It’s food that you can find at convenient stores nearby.
Konbini sells a broad range of food including snacks and sweets, instant ramen, microwave meals, hot food, and many more. It also sells all kinds of hot and cold beverages including coffee, tea, juice, soda, and even alcoholic beverages such as sake, wine, and beer. I went to Japan twice, and I can’t get enough of the konbini food. They are cheaper than street food or restaurant food, but still taste yummy. Here is the list of konbini food (and beverages) that I have tried in Japan.
- Onigiri with various fillings
My love for onigiri is indescribable and konbini is like heaven for my journey in the pursuit of tasty onigiri. Onigiri is japanese rice ball. The rice is often formed into a triangular shape and wrapped in nori (seaweed). Traditionally, an onigiri is filled with umeboshi (pickled ume), salted salmon, mentaiko, or any other salty or sour ingredients as a natural preservative. But nowadays people just do their own creation of onigiri filling.
Here in Indonesia, I couldn’t find any good onigiri at convenient stores. They just don’t taste right. The common filling that I could find here is salmon flake or tuna mayo. But konbini has onigiri with various fillings and flavors. It is a good choice for on-the-go-breakfast because it’s cheap and practical. I tried almost every flavor and filling that I could find. My favorite? It’s the umeboshi one.
Taiyaki is named after tai (Japanese red seabream). This fish-shaped cake is made using pancake or waffle batter which is poured into fish-shaped mold for each side and then filled with red bean paste. The other common fillings are custard, chocolate, cheese, or sweet potato. I tried the red bean paste one, it’s so good and kind of reminds me of a scene in the Crayon Shin-chan manga, when Shin-chan had some taiyakis and squeezed the filling out like a fish poop. It’s so hilarious!
- Anko Dango
Dango is a chewy Japanese confection. It’s made from wet milled glutinous rice flour (shiratamako) or a mix of urichi flour and glutinous flour (dango-ko). This sphere-shaped confection generally served on a skewer with sauces and toppings. I tried the one with the red bean paste topping called anko dango. It’s really good if you like chewy sweet food.
- Cute Bentos
Bento is Japanese packed lunch. It includes rice and side dishes such as grilled fish, pickled veggies, tamagoyaki, chicken karaage, and many more. Cute bento boxes look really stand out in konbini shelves. There are so many options with cute presentations. It’s a good meal for lunch or dinner, especially to fill you up on a busy day.
- Cheap Sushi
The first Japanese food that i want to try in Japan is sushi. While it’s considered as a fancy food in Indonesia, you can easily find it at konbini in Japan. But the real question is ‘Is it good?’. Trust me, it is. Despite of it’s affordable price, konbini sushi has a fine quality of freshness. Even my new Japanese friend recommended me the konbini sushi, when I asked him if there were any good sushi places in Tokyo. I guess cheaper is better, right?
- Desserts and more desserts, please
Konbini sells so many selections of dessert. They are so colorful and tempting. I tried ice cream, brownie sundae, chocolate mousse, cheese bar, and many more. Gosh, I really want to buy everything. My sweet tooth had a really good time.
I am so amazed by konbini’s snack selection of flavors. Some of them are special flavors that you can find in the particular season. Amongst other konbini snacks that i have tried, these two are my favorites. The pink one has a plump fruit flavor. I don’t know their name, though. Can you tell?
- Good Quality Beers
I tried a couple of Japanese beers and my favorite so far is Yebisu. Yebisu beer is made by the Sapporo Beer brewery, the oldest brewery in Japan. It’s malt taste just fits perfectly to Japanese winter season. By the way, please drink responsibly and don’t try it if you’re underage.
All those foods and beverages are the main attraction of konbini. There are more than 50.000 konbini in Japan. You can find major operators such as 7-11, Family Mart and Lawson. Most stores are open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, providing so many products and services, making your life more convenient. It is always the first stop for my traveling days in Japan. What is the best convenience store food from your country? Tell me in the comment section, I’ll try it later.