Monday, October 16, 2017

7-Eleven in ... Tokyo!

Most people in the US think of 7-Eleven as perhaps a place to buy a soda or gum, but little more (of course, I do kinda like the coffee and love the cinnamon rolls).  You certainly don't go there for lunch, right?  I mean, someone must buy those taquitos near the door, but I'm not sure who.

In Japan though, things are very, very different at 7-Eleven (and other convenience stores).  It is a respectable place to get food.  The coffee is actually very good, ground to order, and they make iced coffee too.  The sushi is good, particularly the onigiri.  People love the sandwiches (with crusts cut off) and fresh baked (?!) breads.  Regular people do get food to eat there, and as packaged and scary as it looks, it is fresh.  They even have premium brands, Seven & I Premium and Seven Gold.  And its crazy cheap.

So you know me, always one to try things from silly places like this in the US, I was thrilled to do it in Japan too (plus, ZOMG, the snacks!)

And, spoiler, I loved it.

Seven Premium Deli Salad Pouches

"Seven Premium" products rigorously pursue these seven qualities: ① safety and reliability ② deliciousness ③ local flavors ④ best technology ⑤ universal design ⑥ healthiness ⑦ reasonable pricing."
First up for me, was bagged deli-like salads with Japanese ingredients.  I was beyond fascinated by these.  They also had more mundane salads in plastic boxes, with actual lettuce and the like, but I went straight for the crazy looking ones in pouches. 
Salad Pouch Feast!
The selection was huge, easily 15-20 different deli-like salads, all entirely in Japanese, except for the part telling me that the Seven Premium brand is always evolving.

These items all had pictures showing what was inside, nutrition stats on front, and were sealed tight, easy to open via a slit on top.   Each one cost about the equivalent of $1.  I was provided with chopsticks and a spoon by the cashier.
Burdock Root Salad Pouch.
First up, I went for the burdock root salad.

I would have never been able to identify it by the photo, but, luckily for me, Google translate on my phone was able to tell me this was burdock root.  I had no idea what else would be in it, but, at least I knew the main ingredient.
Burdock Root Salad: Inside.
Here you can see the contents for all their glory.

Since I wasn't bringing it home to plate up, I literally at it from the bag.  With chopsticks.  Just like this.  And it was glorious.

The burdock was crispy. Whatever it was in was really flavorful, perhaps soy based?  Lots of flavor, great texture.  What's not to love?

I might have gotten a tad bit sick of it by the last bite, but I still easily polished off the, uh, bag.
Potato Salad Pouch.
Next, potato salad.

I had no idea what the orange stuff would be (Salmon? Krab stick? Carrots?), but I knew it was potato salad from the translation, and that it was made with something from Hokkaido (perhaps the potatoes?)
Potato Salad: Inside.
Deli potato salad is obviously a fairly normal thing in the US, but I knew that 1) potato salad is really big in Japan these days, and 2) Hokkaido is known for food.  And, well, I like potato salad.

This was quite good potato salad.  Crazy creamy.  It seemed to have some potato that was sorta mashed into a paste with cream/mayo/something, which gave it an incredibly creamy texture.  The chunks of potato were nicely cooked, not too soft, but certainly not the al dente style I do prefer.

I never figured out what the orange things were though.  I think carrots, but I can't be certain.

This was very good, but yes, just potato salad, and I did grow sick of it, mostly because there were too many other things to try.

Onigiri

Next, snackable sushi -  onigiri.
Row of Onigiri.
7-Eleven serves 3 types of Onigiri:
"There are 3 main types of 7-Eleven onigiri. A type not wrapped in seaweed, a type wrapped in seaweed, and a type that is not wrapped in seaweed until right before it is eaten. They are separated into types according to the ingredients used in the center. Please give Japan's easy and healthy fast food "onigiri" a try.?"
The later are the ones I encountered on my previous visit to Japan, and was intrigued by.  The opening procedures are elaborate, but when they work out, its magic, crispy seaweed wrapper and all.
Wasabi Seaweed Onigir?
So that is the style I went for this time, but I failed at opening it properly.  I was able to cobble together a decent solution, but the 1-2-3 didn't quite work.

I really applaud the packaging though, as the nori was fresh and crisp, and really quite good.  The rice too was good, firm, fresh tasting, not mushy.

I'm not entirely sure what was in my onigiri, but I think it was seaweed, and it had some wasabi kick to it.  Flavorful for sure.

Overall, very good for a packaged onigiri, and better than most I encountered on my trip elsewhere.

Sandwiches

I mostly had Lawson (another very popular convenience store) on my agenda for sandwiches (in particular, the famed egg sandwich), but a dining companion grabbed a yakisoba pan because he had seen it in anime before, and was interested in trying one.
Yakisoba Pan.
I tried a bite.

It was ... well, what it looked like.  Noodles in a hot dog bun.  The bun was soft, and didn't taste stale, but wasn't exactly high quality.  The noodles were well sauced/seasoned, but I didn't like the sauce.

My companion enjoyed it, so, success.
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