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.
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.)
Chicken karaage (marinated deep fried chicken - recipe here) bento for only 450 yen!
Kakifurai (breaded deep fried oysters) bento. I think we can spot a trend here.
You can also get things like a bowl of yakisoba (stir fried noodles) or a don (rice bowl).
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.
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”.
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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