Bento tidbits from Japan: Takeout bentos

In case you don't follow my other food blog, Just Hungry, I am in Japan for the next 3 months. I'll be reporting on non-bento stuff over there, but of course I'll be posting about bento related things here!

I just got here yesterday, so I don't have much to report yet, but here are some photos of takeout bentos available locally, in the suburban area of Yokohama (a major port city near Tokyo) where my mother and stepfather live. I got these for lunch today at a local small supermarket (Royal Yotsuya).

Takeout bento and onigiri

On the left is a single salmon onigiri (rice ball). On the right is a hamburger with a fried egg, shredded cabbage, a single broccoli spear and tomato slice, all on top of plain white rice. People from Hawai'i or who have been there might recognize this as a loco moco, though the label didn't say as such. Here it is with the lid off:

Loco moco style bento

It tasted fine - not spectacular or anything, but quite edible. I think the hamburger was made with ground pork. But hey - for 398 yen (about US $4.40), what would you expect? If they sold bentos like that where I live, I would buy it all the time for lunch. The onigiri was okay -- I'm sure there are better available. But hey...what a cheap snack!

The other bentos sold at the supermarket ranged from around 300 yen to 700 yen (the most expensive ones were big!) Similar bentos are sold at konbini (convenience stores) and elsewhere. Given that such cheap takeout bentos are available so easily, I really salute the dedicated home bento makers of Japan. Home made bentos are much nicer of course, but still -- I'm not sure if I could resist the lure of convenient and so very cheap takeout bentos.

Here is a slightly more expensive lunch - a katsu sando, or tonkatsu (breaded fried pork cutlet) with brown sauce on white bread sandwich. It was 420 yen (price corrected) from a local bakery (which actually seems to be quite famous in the area - see below). It was my stepfather's lunch but I stole one of the pieces.

Japanese bakery - Katsu Sando

Much nicer than the bentos - juicy meat, still-crispy breading. (I'll have more about Hige no Panya at a later time I'm sure. I just encountered it by chance on the way to the supermarket, but apparently it is very popular. Here's their web site. There are a couple more photos of the place in my Japan trip flickr set.)

Now, you can tell me what kind of bento related things you want me to find out while I'm here. I will of course check out the stores that carry bento goods (and take photos as much as I'm allowed to). Anything else I should be on the lookout for?