Friday, November 24, 2017

Kobe Chef Club Royal Cheese Pudding

Pudding.  I love pudding.  And it turns out, Japan makes some seriously good pudding.

I read about a particular brand of pudding, "Kobe Chef Club", known for great puddings sold at convenience stores.  I failed to find it the first few days (although I did have a decent pudding from Family Mart instead), but finally found it near the end of my trip.

It turns out, the one I grabbed was a new product, not the tried and true variety I was supposed to be getting.  Oops.

Kobe Chef Club makes 4 standard flavors: a rich cream and custard version, a chestnut version (because, chestnuts are everywhere in Japan), a salty vanilla version, and, the one that gets all the accolades, the caramel topped Royal Custard Pudding.  New to the menu are hazelnut and, the one I ended up getting, Royal Cheese.
Royal Cheese Pudding.
"It is mellow and delicious cheese pudding which you can enjoy melting texture and elegant and creamy taste."

I grabbed my pudding gleefully.  "Royal Cheese Pudding", it said.  Uh, cheese pudding?  Still, I trusted the masses, not knowing I wasn't getting the standard recommended one.
Under the Lid: Pudding and Topping.
Once I took off the lid, I found a sealed container of pudding, and a separate package of "Sweets Topping".
Royal Cheese Pudding.
"Combining cream cheese and mascarpone cheese with Hokkaido purity cream, finished in a creamy and rich flavor with a smooth texture."

Aha!  The "cheese" was cream cheese and mascarpone, much more appropriate than what I was imagining.

I tried the pudding first on its own of course.

It tasted vaguely of coconut, although it wasn't coconut flavored.  I didn't taste cream cheese nor mascarpone.

It was a good texture, not too runny, not quite as thick as a panna cotta.  Good, for packaged pudding, for sure.
Complete with "Sweets Topping".
"Toppings of 'Sakusaku Crepe' attached, the fragrant and refreshing texture further enhances the taste."

After a few bites, I added the topping.

 “Sweets topping” this time was crunchy bits of something.  They added a nice crunch.

Overall, this was a good dessert, but was too sweet after a few bites.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Croquantchou Zakuzaku, Tokyo

Several years ago, when I went to Tokyo, my visit was all about fine dining.  I racked up Michelin stars, and I ate a lot of big, fancy meals.

This time around, I went to the other extreme - super casual.  I was all about the street food, convenience store items, and experiences where I was the only non-local.  Most of my meals cost <$10.  To that mix, I added plenty of dessert though.

I discovered my first day, at Silkream, that Japan has really embraced soft serve ice cream, and made some of the best I've ever had.  Let's just say ... I had soft serve nearly every single day.

And good soft serve turned out to be very easy to find.  We stumbled into one randomly one night, Mother Farm Milk Bar, that was absolutely incredible, after the cheesecake shop we ventured to was sold out.  Everywhere seemed to boast Hokkaido milk soft serve.  In that way, Zakuzaku didn't stand out at all.

But the soft serve isn't actually the primary attraction at Zakuzaku.  They do offer soft serve, and it comes with crispy bits as a topping, but the real star is a pastry item stuffed with cream, and coated in those same crispy bits.

Both items sounded like crowd pleasers, so it didn't take long for us to find our way there.
The Full Lineup.
"Baked fresh, right in front of you. CROQUANT CHOU ZAKUZAKU, born in Hokkaido. It’s normal to be particular about the cream within a chou a la crème (cream puff). The crunchy textured pastry of the new Croquant Chou came from the idea of “making the outside pastry more delicious”."

The marketing focuses on the three secrets to why their pastries are so fresh:
  1. Factory = Shop.
  2. Finest ingredients from hokkaido.
  3. Latest technology.
What does that mean, exactly?

The first refers to the fact that the pastries are baked on site throughout the day, and stuffed (basically) to order.  The second refers to the quality ingredients - free range cow milk and a special flour blend - both form Hokkaido.  And the third, to the way the cream is produced with a "high speed vacuum cooker Qbo", not in advance, not with preservatives.

The result?  Well, the pastry was ok, but I did love the soft serve.


There are several locations of Zaku Zaku, but we went to the one in Harajuku, in the middle of Sunday afternoon, a brave move.

The entire area was crowded and crazy.
The stand is located on a crazy busy street, with big windows displaying the pastries (not yet stuffed).

We had a bit of a wait, probably 10 minutes, in a line that looked pretty long, but did move rapidly enough.
Ice Cream Display.
Like many Japanese establishments, there were models of the food for you to admire, like the fake ice cream cones.  I laugh at the tacky plastic food molds, but actually, it was nice to see the sizes.
Pastries ready to go.
Since the line of people was steady, they weren't really stuffing them to order, as advertised, but that wasn't necessary.

Trays of fairly fresh (but not warm) pastries were lined up, and a staff member was stuffing them at a steady rate.
Cream Injector.
This was the machine that injected the cream right into the pastries.


The menu is very, very simple.

Pastry sticks stuffed with cream, or ice cream.  The former are available in singles or 4 packs (but no more than 12 per person!), the later in a cup or cone.  One type of cream filling, one flavor of ice cream, always with crunchy bits, one type of cone.

A friend and I decided to just split one of each.  Easy decision making.
The pastry sticks come in bags with very clear instructions, and plenty of marketing.

The instructions are quite clear that you are to eat it immediately.  But if you do need to take it home, you are instructed to 1) preheat your toaster, 2) turn the power off and put the zakuzaku inside on a sheet of aluminum, 3) leave in the powered off toaster for 30 seconds.

The goal is to have hot crispy pastry, but cool cream.

Of course, we devoured them on the spot, so this was not necessary.
Single. ¥250.
"The zaku-zaku's best feature is "crispy" crisp as its name suggests. Its identity is almonds crocan coated with sugar and egg whites. Changing the image of the cream puff up to now, a more crackling feeling than it looks. Enjoy a surprising texture to visit in your mouth." 

Inside the bag was our pastry, easy to eat by pushing it up the bag, no napkins needed, no fear of touching it with grubby hands.

The pastry was ... fine.  It wasn't warm though, which I was expecting.  It was just choux pastry though, not something I particularly love.  I did like the crispy bits on it.
"Inside the shoe fabric is a gentle taste of custard. I focused on delivering the flavor and richness of milk from Hokkaido as it is, finished in natural sweetness. It is perfect mouth around which it matches crisp texture."

The cream inside was not thick custard, rather, it was a bit runny.  It was fine I guess, but not particularly good.  It was also not cool as it was supposed to be.

Overall, this was fairly disappointing.  It didn't have the hot and cold contrasts I was expecting.  It wasn't anything special.  The cream was runny.  I did like the crispy coating, but that alone didn't make it worth getting.
Crisp soft milk. ¥450.
"Enjoy the rich and rich flavor of Hokkaido milk to your heart's content, a classic software with a sense of volume appeal."
The ice cream was much better.

Very rich, very creamy, it melted perfectly.  Just like the other Hokkaido milk soft serve I had during this trip.  The flavor was unlike American soft serve in a way I can't really describe.  It was good.

I didn't actually care for the crispy bits though, which really surprised me, as I'm usually all about textures, sweetness, and crunch.  I always get sprinkles on my ice cream.  But for some reason, I didn't like this.

The waffle cone was just a standard waffle cone.

So overall ... it was certainly good, but not any better than the other similar soft serve I had on the trip.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Kyourakutei, Tokyo

You've heard my spiel before about Tokyo and Michelin stars.  Nearly 300 Michelin stars in the city.  On past visits, I made it a point to rack up as many as I could, but on my visit in 2017, I was all about more unique, authentic experiences.  I dined at 7-Eleven, Lawson, and FamilyMart, yes, the convenience stores.  I went to a tiny place for monja, where we were the only non-Japanese, and our meal was less than $10 a head.  Same thing with visiting a local takoyaki chain Gindaco.

But of course I wanted *some* Michelin star dining, right?  My research lead me to learn about Kyourakutei, one of 8 Michelin stared soba restaurants in 2016 (although my visit was in 2017, when they lost the star, but were still recommended as a Bib Gourmand).  I haven't ever loved soba, but I wanted to learn if that was just because I hadn't had good soba before.  I also was initially lead to Kyourakutei when researching tempura, something I do love, and they are also known for.
The stars: Tempura, Soba, and Yuba.
So, to Kyourakutei we went.  A chance to finally have good soba, highly recommended tempura, and almost-Michelin stars?  Yes!

Sadly, I didn't love the food, but it was an incredible experience.

And yes, we were the only English speakers there.

The Setting

Our visit was actually wrought with some failure.

The first time we tried to visit was a Saturday, a day they are indeed open.  We eagerly showed up right at opening to get a seat.  But ... we couldn't find the place.  Now, if you have tried to understand the address system in Tokyo, this likely sounds familiar, and not a real cause for alarm.

But we tried and tried, and couldn't find anywhere that looked like the photos at the right address.  We tried asking, using Google translate, and showing our screen to other shop keepers.  They all kept telling us they weren't it.  We were confused.

I tried calling the restaurant.  The phone rang and rang.

It was then that I learned that the Japanese take their national holidays very seriously.  It was Autumnal Equinox Day.  This is a real thing.  So, they were closed.


Undeterred, we returned a few days later, on a Wed, our last night in Tokyo.

This time we found it easily.  The signs and entire storefront had been covered up before!
One of the features of the restaurant is the in-house millstone, where they mill the grains sourced from the owner's home area, every single day.  You can see it right in the front window, and it is in action throughout the day.

The noodles are then made fresh daily, and hand cut.

The soba is a serious specialty here.
Weighing Noodles.
The noodles are then weighed to order, each and every time, cooked one order at a time, to order.

(Side note: check out the knife block!).
Counter Seating.
The interior is small, with mostly one large counter, and then a handful (I think 3?) tables for 4.

My first move, 2 months before my visit, was to try to make a reservation, through my hotel concierge.   But Kyourakutei takes only 3 reservations per day, for pairs only.  And they were booked for the entire month I was there, 2 months out.  Doh!

So we arrived right at 5pm opening, and were able to easily get a seat.

The hostess offered us a table, but I declined, asking for the counter.  I knew this is where we would want to be, as I had done some research, and knew everything would be prepared to order in front of us.
The Kitchen.
And indeed it was.  The kitchen area was small, with 3 stations.

Directly in front of us was a counter, with tiny tempura area beside it.  Cold apps were also prepared here, by one chef.

Behind that was a cooktop, where sometimes pots were boiling away.  But this was not the noodle station, that was separate, on the side.

Cooking & Grilling Area.
The cooktop also turned into a grill, whenever a grilled appetizer was ordered.  Again, everything done, one at a time, to order.
Tempura Station.
The tempura station is the area that fascinated me.

There was a box of fresh vegetables, and a tank of live fish.

The tempura chef plucked items from the box, whole veggies, and sliced off bits to order to fry.  He removed live fish from the tanks.

It doesn't get fresher than this! I loved watching this chef in action.

The Food

We were provided an English menu, but I'm convinced it contained only a fraction of the items from the Japanese menu, as we saw many things being prepared that were not on our menu.
Cold Noodles.
The first two pages of the menu were cold noodles, soba or udon, topped with different things, like grated radish, grated yam, soft boiled eggs, mushrooms, or even tempura.

I had read that the cold noodles were the way to go (unless it was winter), and as it was a hot day, that seemed right.

So, cold noodles it was.  Since we were sharing, we opted for the large size.
Hot Noodles. 
Hot noodles were the next two pages, similar options, plus some soup ones.
Appetizers were the final two pages, a few chilled items, fried items, simmered items, and tempura sets (or a la carte).

We opted to try the three things I most wanted to try: cold soba, yuba, and tempura, by getting the large chilled soba topped with yuba, and a appetizer of tempura.

For tempura, we selected the Kisetsu Tempura "Seasonal Seafoods and Vegetables", for ¥2400.  It came with 2 seafoods, 3 vegetables, each in a pair so we both had a piece.  A decent value.  The other tempura choice was tiger shrimp, conger eel, and vegetables, same price, but we went for the seasonal one, since, seasonal is better right?
I'll admit that I had planned to do more research before our visit, and, uh, I ran out of time.

And thus, I was a bit stumped when things started showing up in front of us.

First, the condiments, set out on every table/place setting.

The sea salt in the bowl I knew to expect, as, legit tempura is meant to just be dipped in salt.  In the box next to that was togarashi.  I wasn't entirely sure when you were supposed to use it, but, its one of my favorite seasoning mixes, so that was fine.  And then, the taller box, seemed to be soy sauce?
After we ordered, two small little round dishes were provided, a triangle dish of chopped green onion, a pot of another brown liquid, and, a cup.

Now we were confused.

Ok, a little round dish for each of us to eat off of?  We looked around, but didn't see anyone else with these.  It seemed like a reasonable assumption.

I knew the chopped green onion would go with the soba.  The sauce?  We think it was vinegar.  Was it for the tempura? The soba?  Not sure.

And then ... the cup.  That was confusing, and, got more confusing as we went.  I'll get to that soon.
Seasonal Seafood Tempura: Sweetfish.
Our first piece of tempura came up, served directly to us from the chef who had just fried it moments before, one of the seafood selections of the day: sweetfish.

I'll admit, I was intimidated by this one.  Whole little fishes.  But look, they were plated so nicely!

I consider myself fairly food-brave at this point, but, eating a whole fish was a bit much for me.  Head.  Eyes. Tail.  Oh my.

As you can see, the batter was very very light.  This was not oily in any way.

This was an experience, that is for sure.  The texture inside of it was unlike anything I've ever had. It was like ... little tiny balls?  Kinda mushy inside, but crispy outside.  And the tail and bones, uh, gave some crunch.

I can't say I enjoyed this piece, but, it was an experience.
Vegetable Tempura.
I breathed a sigh of relief when the next set came, all vegetables.

The vegetable tempura was served all at once, a half a slice of zucchini for each of us, a piece of okra and a chunk of corn.

Here too, the batter was so very light, and it was not oily.  So different from "tempura" I've had in the US.

I started with the okra, and nearly burnt off my tongue.  I knew it had been plucked from the hot oil moments before, but, I still wasn't prepared for just how hot and fresh it was.  Yikes!  It was fine, not slimy, but not particularly something I like.  My companion, who previously did not like okra, said he liked it for once.

Next I went for the zucchini, also hot and fresh, nice and moist, but, not a veggie I really care for.  My least favorite.

I saved the best for last.  A chunk of corn, individual kernels still attached.  The chef literally just sliced chunks off the cob in front of us before frying.  Incredible.

I loved the corn, it was super crunchy, great pops as each kernel burst.  My favorite bite of the meal.
Seasonal Seafood Tempura: Pike Eel.
The final piece was pike eel.  It had a bit more batter, but still not much, and again, not oily.  It was incredibly moist inside, and, for eel, good enough.

For most of the tempura, I did just use a little salt, which greatly enhanced things, but I did try dipping it in a little of the soy and vinegar too.  I think that is what our little dishes were for?

Overall though, I wasn't a big fan of the tempura.  I'm not sure why, or what I wanted different.  Maybe different seafood, different vegetables? 
Yiyashi Yuba. ¥1100 + ¥200 (large).
"Chilled noodles with tofu skin." 

And then, it was time for noodles.  A giant bowl of soba, chilled.  It came topped with sheets of yuba (per our selection), and a little grated wasabi.

It was here that I realized we had no idea what we were doing.  My research had been months ago, when I planned the trip.  I thought I recalled something about making a dipping sauce, and dunking your noodles into it?  Maybe that is what our cup was?  But we only had one cup, and we were clearly sharing.

But then, we were brought what looked like a tea pot, even though we didn't order tea.  Neither of us touched it at first, since we didn't want caffeine, and assumed it was tea.  Did they think one of us ordered tea?

Yeah, we were confused.  We tried the noodles.  They were ... very plain.  There was nothing on them.  We knew we were missing a step.  Again, we looked around, but no one else was in our phase of the meal.  We did verify that we had correctly used the little dishes for our tempura though.

So I kinda gestured at the chef, and mimicked pouring sauce into the bowl, looking for confirmation that we weren't supposed to do that.  He definitely said no to that, and pointed at the cup.

Ok, we were on the right track.  Make a dipping sauce in the cup, dunk the noodles.  But this was very hard to do with two people and one cup.  Finally, we asked the server for a second cup, and things made more sense.

But I still didn't like the soba.  It was just ... cold noodles.  With a slightly hearty flavor I guess.  I added soy sauce, vinegar, spices, wasabi, green onion to my sauce.  Still, meh.  Not my thing.

I moved on to the yuba.  I love yuba.  I was super excited for fresh yuba.  But ... it turns out, I'm spoiled in San Francisco, as we have Hodo Soy right across the bay, where I've gone for a factory tour before, and been eating yuba from for years.  I think their yuba was fresher than this.

The yuba was sadly unremarkable.  I think the rave reviews likely stem from people who aren't as familiar with it.  It was fresh enough I guess, and the addition of soy milk poured over enhanced the "soyness" of it and added a touch more creaminess, but, it just wasn't special.

And now, let's get back to the aforementioned pot.  Once I grew bored of the noodles, I decided to try to figure it out.  But I wasn't sure how, where was I supposed to pour it.  My cup was full of sauce, and that seemed ... right?  So I poured my sauce into my dining companion's cup (I know, so wrong), and poured a cup of the liquid from the pot.

It looked like ... dirty pasta water. And it tasted like it too.  It turns out, that is exactly what it was, called sobayu, the water from cooking your soba.  A quick moment of looking this up online told me what to do: I was supposed to add it to my leftover sauce at the end of the meal, and drink it like warm soup.  Aha!

So, I took back some sauce, added it to the soba water, and tried it.  It was really good!  Almost like miso soup.  I ended up making a second cup, with fresh sauces.

Overall, an experience of soba unlike anything I've had before.  I think we did it all correctly in the end.  But, I just didn't care for it. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tempura Yamanoue, Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Store, Tokyo

Tonight's story is a sad tale.

It begins with me picking a tempura restaurant I really, really wanted to try in Tokyo (Michelin-stared Kyourakutei), 3 of us venturing all the way there (it was quite out of the way from our hotel), and finding it ... closed.  On a Saturday night.  (Don't worry, I went back a few days later, stay tuned for that).

I frantically consulted my list of back-ups, but there was no where, of any cuisine type, anywhere near where we were.  The best I could come up with was a tiny outpost of another tempura place on my list, Tempura Yamanoue, about 30 minutes away (walking to subway, subway ride, another walk).  Not ideal at all, but, we were determined.

Tempura Yamanoue's main location is at the Hilltop Hotel, but they also have locations in Ginza and Roppongi.  These are all pricey locations, with dinner offerings that are set menus, starting at 13,000 yen for a vegetarian selection and up to 20,000yen for the "Chef's Menu".  Not quite what we had in mind for the night, and not places we'd be able to get in without a reservation anyway.

But I knew they had a location inside the Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi food court that is more casual ("food court" doesn't quite explain this, if you haven't been to a Japanese mall food area before, I don't know how to better describe it, but, it is numerous stalls, offering up all sorts of specialty and gourmet items, more like Eataly than a mall food court as we know it).

We arrived at the mall, and were totally lost.  There were multiple food courts, spread out over multiple buildings.  And the giant food court in the basement that we stumbled upon was ... well, giant.

It also, as we quickly found out, was closing soon.  Everything closed at 7:30pm (and we knew that Japanese punctuality meant on. the. dot!), with many places taking last orders by 7pm.  It was 6:55pm.  We had to frantically find it.

And, we did, actually.

Tempura Yamanoue had a takeout window, but also, a tiny side area with seating, directly in front of a chef.  It had exactly 3 seats total at a counter, and, there were 3 of us!  This area also had one table for two.  What a tiny place.  We were welcomed in with open arms, and menus, at 6:58pm.
Great Seats!
Our chef cooked for us right on the other side of the counter.

He spoke no English, but, he did watch our reactions, and was interested in our experience.  Our server also spoke no English, but both she, and the final staff member who hovered on the side watching us, were amused by us the entire time.  It was quite clear that they are not used to non-Japanese speakers (although they did have an English menu).

The food was prepared very quickly, and served quite fresh.  Unfortunately, I didn't like it.
Since this outpost is a casual place, designed for the shopper to just grab a quick bite, the menu is small.  Basically ten-don (tempura over rice).  And that is it.  You could opt for slightly different tempura sets (veggie, kakiage, mixed seafood, prawns & veggies), or the single tempura meal, but that is it.
Teishoku: Grated Diakon Radish, Rice, Pickled Vegetables, Miso Soup, Salt, Dipping Sauce.
I opted for the Teishoku set (not entirely knowing what I was doing, much confusion with ordering to be honest), as did one other diner.

We were brought platter containing (from left to right):

  • Grated daikon radish
  • Rice
  • Pickled vegetables
  • Miso soup
  • Salt
  • Dipping sauce

Along with chopsticks and of course a wet towel.

The rice, daikon, and pickles were pretty standard, although not particularly good.  I kinda think my flights had better pickles.  The dipping sauce seemed to be a light soy sauce.

The miso soup was extremely salty, lukewarm, and contained tiny little clams (in their shells).  This turned into a comedic event, which at least made the night fun?

I decided I wanted to try a clam.  But I couldn't figure out how.  They were incredibly small, and I couldn't manage to just pick a clam out with my chopsticks.  I tried to hold one with my chopsticks and somehow suck out a clam, but, alas, no that didn't work either.  Finally, I got a great idea: I'd put the clam shell in my mouth, and just suck it out!  Great!  It worked!  But ... uh, then I had a little tiny clam shell in my mouth.  I knew I wasn't supposed to spit it out.  Or swallow it.  I panicked.

I tried to ask my dining companions what to do.  "I have a wittle bitty clam shell in my mouth", I tried to discretely say to them.  "Halp!"  They mostly just laughed at me and didn't offer any suggestions.  The staff very quickly picked up on what was going on, and tried so hard not to laugh at me, but totally failed.  One women was in the corner, behind a curtain, just giggling.  The other kept covering her mouth to hide her giggle.  I'm glad I amused everyone?
Vegetable Tempura. Y3240.
My main order, since I somehow turned it into a set, came as the tempura on a platter, rather than ten-don like the rest of the menu.  One of my group did order regular ten-don, and his came over rice, with a sauce drizzled over it, and miso soup on the side.

I was really craving vegetables at the time, so I opted for the vegetable version, expecting fun Japanese vegetables like lotus root, daikon, Japanese sweet potato, and maybe some tempura corn.

The tempura came all at once, rather than piece by piece as it was cooked, as would be common at the nicer places.  Strike one.

It was also incredibly heavy, and very, very, very oily.  I realize I was ordering fried battered food, but, I had tempura every day for lunch at my office, and it was not oily like this.  I expected that super fresh tempura would be even lighter, even less oily (which, I discovered when I went somewhere else a few nights later, can be true), but here, it wasn't.  I tasted too much oil.

My set contained 7 kinds of veggies: 2 asparagus, 1 eggplant, 1 pumpkin, 1 string of beans, 2 lotus, and 1 giant mushroom.

The lotus was the only one I liked, crunchy, almost refreshing under all the oily batter.

Everything else just couldn't stand up to the oil and batter.  I guess the bean one (second to right) was interesting in that I hadn't really seen that form before, it was some kind of beans attached somehow in a row ... but not quite in a pod.  They did taste like soybeans, but, I don't think were.

The mushroom was my least favorite, which shocked me, since I love mushrooms, particularly more "exotic" ones, but it was incredibly chewy, to the point that I really had trouble getting through it.

Let's just say, I didn't like anything, and dipping it in the sauce, or the salt, didn't help.  But I had the chef right there watching me, and the other two staff hovering around, so, I had to smile and eat it.

We quickly paid and left, and I tried to rush back into the rest of the food court to get something else, but, alas, it was 7:30pm by then, and, well, closing time.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Lawson Station, Tokyo

As you know from my review of 7-Eleven in Tokyo, convenience stores are a very different thing there.  As in, people actually *like* to go to them for food.

Lawson Station is one of the big three chains in Tokyo (alongside 7-Eleven and Family Mart).  It is notable in that Anthony Bourdain strongly endorses the egg sandwiches and fried chicken, thus, we sought it out.

Hot Items

Lawson sells a number of fried chicken products, plus warm buns near the registers.

None of these are things I'd normally get, but, I had heard great things about the chicken from Lawson, so I passed that info on to my chicken eating friends, and they went to seek it out.  I tried a few bites of each.

The chicken product they were most interested in was the nuggets, available in regular, red (spicy), and cheese.  It didn't seem like there were any dipping sauces available.
The regular nuggets were very plain and boring, sans sauce.  Did we just miss this, or was there really no sauce?

The texture of the inside of the nuggets was certainly not identifying as chicken in any way.  It was very strange, and I did not like it.  I do not think this was quality product.
The cheese ones were really, really strange.

The nuggets themselves were the same, it was just the coating that was different.  Cheesy breading.  This was not a good flavor.

None of us liked any of these.


I'm the last person to seek out a sandwich, and particularly not one from a convinience store, but again, I had heard great things about the egg sandwiches at Lawson.  Anthony Bourdain swears by them.
Egg Salad: 4 Ways.
When I got to the sandwich shelf, I realized I wasn't sure which type of egg sandwich was supposed to be amazing.

Luckily for me, they had one with 4 different types of egg sandwiches, all in one pack.  There were lots of other multi-packs, e.g. I could have gone for egg salad with a ham and cheese and a pork culet piece too, but, egg was the focus on this mission.

The four versions were: egg salad, hard boiled, omelet, egg salad with ... onion?

The classic egg salad was very good egg salad, chunks of egg white, creamy yolks with mayo.  Very creamy, tons of mayo (kewpie?), quite flavorful.  I liked it, my second favorite.

The hard boiled egg I didn't care for at all.  It was, literally, just slices of cooked egg between bread. Dry and boring, my least favorite.

The omelet one was ... interesting.  I love Japanese egg omelet (tomago) at sushi restaurants, but this was not that.  It was kinda soft, not sweet.  Didn't really like this, my second to last pick, but a bit novel.

The final one I still don't really know what it was.  There was a thin layer of crispy stuff that was red.  And then the egg salad, which wasn't like the first one, as it had no chunks of white, but rather was all chopped up into a smoother salad.  It was creamy and flavorful though, and went great against the crunchy stuff.  We thought there might be onion in there too?

The bread for all of these was actually good.  Soft, thin, white bread.  It wasn't stale, it wasn't hard.  It went well with the creamy fillings.

Overall, yes, these were just pre-made fairly low end sandwiches on white bread, but, I did like the two salad versions.  But I wouldn't want more, this was fun to try ... once.


Since I liked the salads in pouches from 7-Eleven, I was excited to try more from Lawson (also, I wanted some vegetables!).

The pouches at Lawson were labeled in English, which helped considerably.  I picked a bunch to try, and eagerly dug in.

Sadly, I didn't like any.  They just didn't have nearly as much flavor as the 7-Eleven versions.
Japanese-Style Salad.
First up, "Japanese-Style Salad."

We weren't really sure what this was, but it looked like it would have lots of assorted beans, veggies, and seaweed?  I hoped for a yummy dressing too.
Japanese-Style Salad: Inside.
And ... yeah, just a bunch of assorted beans, little cubes of carrot, and some corn.  The seaweed was fine, but there just wasn't any flavor to this.  

No one liked this, or even wanted a second bite.
Simmered Dried Radish.
Yeah, what?  I didn't know what this would be either ... dried radish?  I got it out of curiosity.
Simmered Dried Radish: Inside.
It didn't quite look like the picture.

The strips of what I guess were radish were soggy and slimy.  As were the veggies in the mix.  There wasn't any real flavor to any of it.

Another one that no one liked.
Simmered Hijiki Seaweed.
And finally, seaweed, since I love it.  I hoped it would be marinated.

I was particularly drawn in by the crunchy lotus on the picture.
Simmered Hijiki Seaweed: Inside.
Where was my lotus!

I found one chunk, it was reasonably crisp.

The seaweed wasn't particularly flavorful, again, no yummy marinade.  

And another one that no one really liked.  I guess my favorite, but even this went unfinished.