What Katie Ate in Japan – An Ode to Japanese Convenience Stores

Let me start this post by saying that I’ve always been a huge fan of Japanese food. One of the most exciting aspects of planning this leg of our trip has been the anticipation of juicy gyoza, fresh sashimi and diabetes-inducing crepes. As money was tight, we tended to eat one meal out each day then forage for other sustenance from the incredibly well stocked convenience stores. This is one wonderful difference between Japan and Australia. In Australia, if you’re going to rely on convenience stores, be prepared to navigate the super unhealthy shelves of donuts, microwave meals, chips and slurpies. Not so in Tokyo! I know how this makes me sound, but I had so much fun looking at the huge array of ready or almost ready made meals that decked the shelves of stores such as Lawsons and Family Mart.


Also, I feel the need to confess that we basically lived on peach iced tea. These one litre cartons from Lipton were everywhere and came in smaller sizes too. They were so nice because they didn’t seem to have that weird taste that the Australian ones get from replacing sugar with stevia. I’m still not on board the ‘cut all sugar out of your diet because it is the latest way we want to look healthy’ train. We downed cartons of this stuff like it was water. Which might have contributed to the fact that i’m writing this post in my pyjamas because they are the only comfortable stretchy items in my suitcase and everything else is too tight. Hmm.


On our first night in Tokyo, fresh of the plane, we stopped off at the Family Mart next door to our accommodation to scope out some dinner. With my non-existent Japanese language skills, we were limited to items that had an English description or were recognisable in some way. We ended up with (clockwise from top left) a green salad, pork katsu sandwich, some sort of coffee flavoured jelly dessert, another more Japanese looking dessert, some pork and rice, and a dish that looked like some sort of chicken karaage with rice and an egg. The staff at the store heated the last two dishes up for us but I dropped the ball on mine as I didn’t realise that my egg was not already cooked and I was supposed to crack it onto my hot meal and let it semi cook in the residual heat. So I ended up with a raw egg and no clue what to do with it! Otherwise, our savoury foods were tasty and convenient. I also had the second dessert which turned out to be a mix of mochi, jelly and paste. The flavours I could identify were taro, and matcha but i’m sure there was more to it than just that. I quite enjoyed this one as the contrasting textures were fun to eat and so different to the desserts i’m used to.


The next time we hit up the convenience store we were a little more restrained. I tried this seaweed salad with sesame sauce which was quite nice and crunchy. I also had the round of tomato sauce rice with half an egg (which I definitely bought because i’m a huge sucker for a soft yolk). Dessert was a square of flan wrapped in custard, cream and a sweet crepe. This last one was crazy good, sweet and with a few different textures. I may or may not have spent the next few days hunting down another one to scoff. But, i’m saving the best for last.


This might look like an unassuming square of bread with a weird peanut stamped on it but, for me, it was a delicious square of nostalgia. Inside this packet was a peanut butter and honey white bread sandwich with the crusts cut off, just like I used to eat when I was a kid. The edges were even sealed like it was a little pie! I know that it all sounds very ordinary but it was seriously the last thing I expected to find in a Japanese convenience store.

So that was a little roundup of some of the things we ate while we were in Tokyo sourced from convenience stores! Am I the only one who likes going food shopping while in other countries? What are your tips/nice foods you’ve found while travelling?

By Katie

What can I say? I love sweets, in all shapes and sizes! You only live once, so why not indulge once in a while? Or, in my case, most of the time...

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