Ekiben! And other food!

(Posting from the Kodama Shinkansen bound for Shin-Osaka. I love living in the future.)

And now it’s the first ekiben of the trip! Eki means ‘train station’ and ‘ben’ is short for ‘bento’ (a boxed lunch, basically, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it). So an ekiben is a boxed meal sold to be eaten on the train.

As with a lot of convenience stores in Japan, train stations also tend to sell good food, and each region tends to make specialty ekiben to sell at stations. We’re taking the Shinkansen to Osaka this evening, and bought ekiben for the trip.

Toby of course ate his before I got a picture of it, but here’s mine.


I believe this is some sort of specialty 50th anniversary ekiben. Anniversary of what, I’m not sure. Here’s the inside:


Lots of little compartments with small amounts of stuff. I tried everything, and even ate the whole tiny octopus you can see peeking out from behind that thing that looks like a comb in the front and center (it wasn’t bad), but I think my favorite bits were the carrot and mushroom (dark thing in top center lurking under the green beans). They’d been marinated in something slightly salty and slightly sweet.

For those of you panicking that you’d be forced to eat something unfamiliar if you ever went to Japan, rest assured that you can also get sandwiches to eat on the train. I just figure that I travel to experience things I can’t get at home, so I give almost everything the college try.

Before I forget, we had lunch at a tiny place in Tokyo Station that specialized in tonkatsu (breaded fried pork cutlet), and it was fantastic, I got the specialty of the day which was tonkatsu with a thick red miso sauce and a soft boiled egg over rice. Toby had tonkatsu with tempura shrimp and thinly shredded cabbage, which he poured a yuzu (a type of citrus fruit) sauce that was at the tableside, which was accompanied with steamed rice. We both got served a red miso soup with teeny tiny clams in the bottom.

Yesterday for dinner we ended up at a Chinese restaurant in the Daimaru department store. Toby had fried rice with finely diced crab and lettuce, which he said was good although it could have used more crab. I had fried noodles with shredded beef and three colors of bell peppers in some sort of thick sauce. It was also good, even though only a few of the noodles were really crispy.

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