A couple of the unique options we found at the Yamazaki ‘Lunch Pack’ Shop were suitable for breakfast (and, maybe also dessert).
First up was Orange Cream. These brought back memories of 50/50 Bars and Creamsicles. Well balanced, with a not-overly synthetic orange flavor, the slightly-toasted Orange Cream sandwich was enjoyable.
The second sandwich was Banana. In full disclosure, banana is very near the top of the list of personal favorite flavors (along with peanut butter, chocolate, carmel, and nacho cheese). But, honestly, this sandwich was absolutely delicious. Simple, authentic banana cream imbedded in toasted white bread…already want another one.
Next time, maybe we add a little chocolate sauce and some powdered sugar?
As we have covered previously, uncrustables-style sandwiches (called “lunch pack” sandwiches here in Japan) are exceedingly prevalent. Made by the Yamazaki company and dating back to 1948, these things are available at every convenience store and come in a wide variety of flavors, including many seasonal and limited-time options.
Recently, we discovered that there are shops dedicated to these delectable treats. The two nearest us (at least that we could find) are located in the Akihabra Station and the Ikebukuro Station. So, of course, we had to go check it out.
Despite its small size, the shop in the Ikebukuro Station is packed with just about every variety of lunch pack sandwich you could imagine…and even some you couldn’t imagine (like spaghetti).
As a result, over the next few days, we will cover some of the new flavors we decided to try.
Our third installment is this series takes us to 7-11.
Instead of coming up with a cute brand name or bringing in product from an outside brand, 7-11 has packaged their gourmet popcorn as their own. In Japan, 7-11 is part of 7&i Holdings; which also includes Ito-Yokado (a well-known/higher-end grocery group). As such, their food is commonly regarded as being of quite good quality. In fact, their ¥100 coffee (about $0.88 US) is regarded by many as being surperior to Starbucks.
The options available on this particular visit were carmel, cheese, and honey & almond.
While the standout was honey & almond, you sure can’t go wrong combining the carmel and cheese together. As expected, they were all of high quality, with a fresh taste and texture.
Evidently, the Marketing folks in Japan have decided that it is Fall.
Everywhere you go, everywhere you look, it has become fall…except, of course, that it is still kinda Summer.
Let’s just hope they have enough stock of these Fall special packaging and flavors to last through … well … Fall. If not, we will surely be seeing the Winter stuff by mid-October.
The second chapter of this saga takes us to SunKus (another big convenience store chain here in Japan). Their gourmet popcorn offering comes with the name brand Pop Combi.
While their flavor profiles might seem tame in comparison to a lot of the other gourmet popcorn options, they more than make up for it in execution. All three of these are quite good, but the Carmel & Mildsalt is the stand-out; well balanced with a nearly ‘fresh-popped’ texture (which is often the biggest challenge for packaged popcorn).
They gourmet popcorn trend continues to evolve here in Japan. Although its origins are difficult to “prove”, there are some that believe it may have all started at a theme park in Maihama. What is known is that in the past couple years it manifested itself as high-end boutique shops (e.g. KuKuRuZa and Garrett’s); where 2-hour waits were common.
Recently, the gourmet popcorn trend has merged with the all-powerful convenience stores; where each store chain seems to have their own specialized brand agreement. For example, the shelves at the local Family Mart are stocked with a brand called “Styling Pop” from Frito Lay. And, on a recent trip, there were two flavor profiles to choose from: Anchovy-&-Garlic and Pepper-&-Chorizo.
Although hopes and expectations were high for the Pepper-&-Chorizo, the more tasty ended up being the Anchovy-&-Garlic. Both, however, went quite well with beer…just at the packaging indicates.
So, what has happened to those 2-hour waits at the boutique shops you ask? Well, as might be guessed, with gourmet popcorn becoming more commonplace and more accessible, you can often just walk right in. Which, from a popcorn-lover’s standpoint, is clearly a win-win.
If you remember, last year Burger King introduced a limited time Kuro Burger; which was all black.
This year, their offering comes in red…the Aka (which means ‘red’ in Japanese) Samurai Burger.
The bun and cheese are colored using tomato powder and the sauce is spiced up with some red pepper.
While the spice in the sauce was nice, the tomato powder seemed to cause some pasty textural changes to the bun. Overall, it wasn’t bad…but, unlike last year’s Kuro Burger, it doesn’t warrant repeating.