|Marinated Pork on Rice Bento|
One of the things I've missed on coming back from Japan has been conbini bento (convenience store boxed lunches). Although I don't cry myself to sleep over their lack here in Canada (I'm quite aware of the supermarket deli at places like Metro), I sometimes think about what I used to have on a very regular basis back in Tokyo and Chiba.
I was a huge sucker, especially, for karaage bento (deep fried chicken lunch)...that I could have 7 days a week and never get tired of it, although I can't really vouch for my stomach and heart. There was a supermarket near my old school in Nakano-Sakaue called Olympic which had the best karaage bento for 398 yen. The picture above isn't exactly karaage; karaage is batter-fried chicken...incidentally, the chicken is marinated in a mixture of ingredients such as soy sauce, sake, ginger and other stuff before being dunked into the batter. The secret lies in what makes up the marinade and the batter and how hot it's deep-fried.
Pasta is also a mainstay on the bento shelves. I could get an assortment of pasta dishes, although my favorite was always bolognese. But cream-based sauces were also popular. And of course, there was the don, such as gyu-don (beef bowl). Yep, convenience stores also had them along with Yoshinoya. The one I had here, though, was rice topped with marinated pork...just as good.
Of course, the fast food joints are also popular in Japan but I think it's nice to have that prototypically modern Japanese alternative as well.