Japanese convenience store snacks are one of the many things I have grown to love. And when I say “convenience store snacks,” I don’t mean the bland packets of nuts or generic bags of Oreos that occupy the shelves in most American gas stations.
Convenience stores in Japan take cuisine to a new level. You can get freshly-cooked meals, vegetables, dried fish, individually packaged slices of cake, and everything in between at any convenience store in Japan. I love it.
For now, let’s focus on snacks. These are my top six favorite Japanese convenience store snacks:
Pocky is one of the most popular sweets in Japan, especially among foreigners. It makes appearances in all sorts of anime shows, manga books, and movies.
Pocky is a thin cracker dipped in chocolate. They have all sorts of interesting flavored chocolate, such as green tea, strawberry milk, and white chocolate.
This is one of my favorites, “sweet potato chocolate.” It has a rich, creamy flavor that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else.
Dried Ramen Bites
Ramen is delicious, but do you know what is even better? Uncooked ramen.
That sounds silly, I know, but there is something special about Babystar’s “ramen” snacks. Each bag is filled with thin, dried noodles seasoned in a rich chicken broth.
They’re my go-to snack for late-night movie marathons or for satisfying those awkward 5o’clock hunger pains at work.
Senbei Rice Crackers
Senbei are a type of Japanese rice cracker. They come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and flavors. Some are sweet; some are savory. Some are expensive local delicacies; some can be picked up cheaply from any local convenience store.
My favorite type of senbei is the “Soft Salad” senbei, sold at most grocery and convenience stores. These crunchy, salty snacks are baked over a low fire and wrapped in sets of two.
Koala No March
These Koala Bear snacks are on my list for the sheer cute factor. After all, in Japan presentation is everything.
These cute cookies are shaped like koala bears and filled with a creamy chocolate. They also have different koalas printed on each little cookie.
I especially like these koala snacks because, despite the fact that they’re a chocolate filled cookie, they’re not too sweet. They’re the perfect balance of plain cookie and chocolate cream.
Melon Bread Skin
Hand down, melon bread is one of the most famous “pop culture foods” in Japan. I can totally see why.
Melon bread is a type of Japanese sweet bun. Dough is covered with a thin layer of cookie dough and then baked. The bread doesn’t actually taste like melon, though. Instead, it gets the name “melon bread” because the crispy cookie dough layer on the top looks just like the shell of a melon.
The only downside is that melon bread is rather filling. It’s more like a meal than a snack. This is why I love Melon bread skin.
Melon bread skin is a thin wafer about the size and thickness of the palm of your hand, made entirely from melon bread’s signature crispy cookie dough. You can get all the deliciousness of melon bread without the extra carbs.
Japanese potato Chips
Potato chips are a great “safe snack” if you’re not ready to commit to a full-on Japanese convenience store specialty. Calbee has a great line of potato chips, with flavors ranging from “sour plum” to “French salad.” If you’re not ready to tackle those flavors, you can always pick up some of the more tame flavors, like “original” or “barbeque.”
Even though these are potato chips, they’re not terribly oily or overpowering. They’re just a great casual snack.
I love Japanese convenience store snacks. And despite the fact I’ve lived in Japan for almost four years, there are still plenty of snacks and candies I have yet to try. It seems like every time I stop by my local convenience store, they have brand new snacks to try!