Take a virtual bento shopping trip in Japan (part 2)

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Following up to yesterday’s post, here’s the edible version of the virtual bento shopping trip in Japan. Readymade bentos are sold everywhere - at supermarkets, konbini (convenience stores), train stations, airports, and department store food halls. The bento displays at the latter can be pretty overwhelming. You have have seen similar displays at Mitsuwa or similar Japanese supermarkets in the U.S. and elsewhere, but the scale is different. The following photos were mainly taken in a Seibu department store, by of Mark from CalorieLab.

A selection of bentos priced around 500 yen, featuring various breaded and deep fried items, mostly different kinds of tonkatsu or deep fried pork cutlet.

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Smaller, cuter bentos (the rice is packed below the other things), with hitokuchi katsu, bitesized fried pork cutlets, with a bit of shredded cabbage and a dollop of mayonnaise. (The one on the right has a couple of deep fried shrimp too.)

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Chicken karaage (marinated deep fried chicken - recipe here) bento for only 450 yen!

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Kakifurai (breaded deep fried oysters) bento. I think we can spot a trend here.

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You can also get things like a bowl of yakisoba (stir fried noodles) or a don (rice bowl).

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This one is a bit more my style - a “Four colors of winter” bento with more vegetables, grilled fish (bream), and rice with crabmeat. There’s even an ichigo daifuku (strawberry dumpling). This one is from Seiyu department store.

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Finally, these are special order special occasion bento, called sho-kado- bento. If they look a bit odd, it’s because these are plastic models, not the real thing. They are quite a bit more expensive than the regular lunch bento as you can see. The sign in the middle says (paraphrasing) “These items must be ordered in advance”.

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So as you can see, readymade bentos are easily available in pretty cheap in Japan. But they aren’t necessarily that healthy - the fried item ones are the bento equivalent of a KFC fried chicken set basically. Still, I do admire people who live in Japan and who choose to make their bento rather than just buy it! I’d love to have easy access to such a variety of takeaway lunches beyond sandwiches and pizza. (And yes you can buy KFC chicken, sandwiches or pizza for lunch if you want in Japan too.)

Thanks again to Mark for the photos!

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sigh I do love seeing this

sigh I do love seeing this mix of elegance, convenience, and deliciousness. My own “Bentoesque” work is far from this (mostly a throw-together of tupperware and bags), but its certainly inspiring.

I live in the Bay Area and have seen a few places around here doing the “Bento” model. I hope it spreads further.

great pics! off topic…i

great pics! off topic…i was wondering where on earth you can find good yukari that does NOT contain MSG? only in japan? if so, i’ll ask a friend to send some over. :)

Hmm, I don’t see why they

Hmm, I don’t see why they would even add MSG to yukari since it’s quite salty and flavorsome anyway. But I don’t think I have seen specifically MSG-free yukari…at the moment I only have some from Japan, and it doesn’t list MSG as an ingredient. I guess they might be easier to find in Japan (your friend should try the food halls of better department stores) Since yukari is just the red shiso leaves used for making umeboshi that have been dried and made into a powder, if she can’t find yukari specifically she might have better luck finding umeboshi that are addtive-free, with the shiso leaves still in them (though they might be a bit expensive).

Natsukashii!!!!

These two posts have made me very happy because they remind me of when I was living in Japan (I came back to England in August), and would wander around looking at all of the bento making things and going ooooh! I never quite got motivated to make them for myself everyday though. It makes me look forward to when I go back to Japan! Whenever that is. Yay!

:O Everything looks

:O Everything looks delicious! We SO need convienient stores and grocery stores with bentos like that! And they’re all packaged so neatly and cutely x) I have to get me to Japan ;D

mmmm... obento...

Now I’m remembering why I always put on some weight when I visit Japan.

These bento meals are good deals anyway, but if you go shopping for store bentos an hour before closing time the discounts are usually fantastic. I’m often on a budget when I visit, so stopping by a department store at 9pm is usually the best way to get a good meal for very little. When the discounts are 50-70%, even the sho-kado-bento becomes an economic meal.

They make fantastic breakfasts too. It always baffles me when people tell me that Tokyo is expensive.

this makes me weep

Only in Japan can you experience such a beautiful array of bentos. I could go to Japan just to hang out in the bottom floor of the department stores! Thanks for the photos.

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