You’re in Japan: It’s 1PM, your stomach is growling, you’re in the middle of nowhere, and the only thing in site is a 7-11 convenience store. No need to worry, though.
Believe it or not, you can get a full (not to mention delicious!) meal from a Japanese convenience store for under 1000yen ($8 USD). I do this more often than I would like to admit, especially when I’m out downtown and don’t have time to go to a regular restaurant.
1. Katsudon (deep fried pork and egg over rice) – 510yen
Katsudon is a delicious Japanese dish, composed of a breaded and deep fried pork cutlet, that is cooked in egg and served over rice.
I love katsudon because the meat is always juicy and full of flavor. And the egg isn’t just a normal, fried egg. It’s cooked in tsuyu, a semi-sweet, versatile Japanese sauce. The resulting meal is absolutely phenomenal!
You can buy katsudon and other pre-cooked meals in the “food” aisle of any convenience store. At the register, they will pop the plastic container into the microwave for a minute and a half, until the meal is piping hot. To make things even better, most of these convenience store meals come with a plastic “separator” between the white rice and the toppings. When you’re ready to eat, you can just pull out the divider and mix the two food groups together.
This way the juices don’t have a chance to turn the rice all mushy and saturated. Handy, right?
I first heard about Mets soda a couple of months ago. One of my Japanese friends told me that Mets had won some sort of award because the drink has something in the fizz that helps slow down the body’s ability to absorb fat.
Mets is probably the most fizzy beverage I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking. Their most popular flavor is probably grapefruit – but they recently launched a Litchi soda that I’ve been dying to try.
And… it lived up to the hype. Mets Litchi soda tastes just like litchi. It’s not too sweet, though, so it balances out the meal perfectly.
Convenience stores in Japan have all sorts of drink options, ranging from carbonated sodas to various fruity tea flavors.
3. Red bean paste and mochi dessert – 241yen
Have you ever eaten red bean paste? Red bean paste is in a lot of Asian deserts. Somehow I went most of my life without ever trying it – until I moved to Japan. Now I can happily say that I’m addicted.
Red bean paste is made from boiled azuki beans, sweetened with sugar. The amount of sweetening depends on the snack.
I discovered this red bean paste and mochi dessert from 7-11 about a year ago, and since then, it’s been my go-to snack when I need a little sugary pick-me-up. The azuki is barely sweetened and has a rich, earthy taste. The mochi (pounded rice) is smooth, chewy, and also only barely sweetened. In fact, the sweetest thing about this dessert is the whipped cream on top. It’s a dessert that doesn’t really feel like a dessert.
I don’t feel guilty about eating it for lunch because I know that as far as sweets go, this one is actually rather healthy.
And that’s what the typical lunch from a Japanese convenience store looks like! If you ever get a chance to go to Japan, I totally recommend grabbing breakfast (or lunch) from a convenience store at least once – just for the experience.