Here at Food52, we've been singing the praises of a particular Japanese convenience store for a while now. Look at Nikkitha Bakshani, our Associate Editor, who went to Japan and spent her trip there chasing down the beauty that is the 7-Eleven egg salad sandwich. The secret, she says, is the fluffy whipped egg filling.
That's not all she loved, however. I chatted with Nikkitha about the heartwarming joys and earth-shattering amazingness that constitutes a trip to a 7-Eleven in Japan.
"They have the best freezer section ever, full of all kinds of fun ice cream like plum and green tea and taro and other flavors," she recalls. "There's also a great iced coffee section. Their readymade meals are great, especially the fried chicken, which you can get at the counter. Their umbrellas are super high quality—like, I still use mine and it works perfectly and I bought it in 2015. Everything in there is actually pretty good quality (including the underwear...which I bought because I didn't want to do laundry)."
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It seemed she was onto something. Fast forward a few months to our Social Media Manager Connor Bower's visit to Japan. Sure enough, he made it a point to stop by all of the local convenience stores. "They most definitely do not disappoint," he assured me.
Even Eric Kim, our Senior Editor, waxed nostalgic about the tuna onigiri he and his brother would pick up at the Tokyo 7-Eleven after hours. This started a long Slack chain about what the best convenience-store onigiri flavor is.
Connor chimed in: "Omg. I made a pit stop at 7-Eleven on my way back to my hotels every day to try a new onigiri flavor. Tuna was good, but ikura was my #1."
Community Editor Lindsay-Jean Hard countered both Connor and Eric: "What?? Ume is best."
Was I missing something here? What was this hubbub? Did my colleagues mean to tell me that the places I grew up getting road trip ICEEs were actually magical culinary wonderlands? I was doubtful—that is, until I found this video making the internet rounds. See for yourself (the egg sandwich gets a shout-out at 9:00!):
Mike Chen, who runs the YouTube account Strictly Dumpling, tours two convenience stores, 7-Eleven and its competitor Lawson, and builds himself a massive brunch FEAST solely from the items sold in the stores. Since the video's upload, it's amassed over a million views and has been trending worldwide. And I can see why. His tour is comprehensive and offers viewers, both familiar and unfamiliar, a delicious whirlwind peek inside the magic, the mystery, the marvel that is the Japanese convenience store.
Here are just a few of the things I learned you can buy at a Japanese 7-Eleven:
Fried chicken and fried pork
Buns stuffed with curry beef, buns stuffed with cheese and potatoes, buns stuffed with marinara sauce
An entire aisle’s worth of ramen noodles
Seaweed soup, vegetable soup, and tofu soup
Fish cakes simmering in broth
If you ever plan to make it out to Japan, be sure to add this one to your travel itinerary—it's a destination in and of itself.
Speaking of convenient foods
Have you ever feasted at a Japanese 7-Eleven or Lawson? If so, tell us your favorite thing to buy in the comments.