July 2013. Japan.
My friends won’t understand my obsession with planes and trains, I love taking them and eating “catered food” as Mu Yao puts it. In Japan, I definitely won’t give Ekiben a miss, for a huge part of my holidaying in Japan, I am always eager to try the regional ekiben at the various stations I stop by on my train journey from Hakodate to Osaka.
SHIN-AOMORI to SENDAI
津軽のめぐみ | 1000 Yen
The first ekiben I had from Hakodate to Sendai via Shin-Aomori was a commemorative ekiben named after the Tsugaru Strait which separates Hokkaido and mainland Honshu. The Tsugaru no Megumi's wrapper shows one of the float designs from the Nebuta festival, the contents of this ekiben is a real treasure. It has two kinds of rice and plenty of mini side dishes. On one side there is rice with shaved egg, ikuro and ebi. Then on the other there is picked vegetables, scallop and boiled prawn.
SENDAI to TOKYO
東北まるごと弁当 | 1100 Yen
The next one I had was from Sendai to Tokyo, it is a bento showcasing the various cuisines of Tohoku named “Tōhoku Marugoto Bentō” (東北まるごと弁当), each compartment representing a certain area of the Tohoku region namely Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Miyagi, Yamagata and Fukushima which has suffered from plenty of bad press due to the Fukushima incident and the tsunami. I was rather impressed by this colourful ekiben. The baked apple from the Aomori region was mind-blowingly tasty,
TOKYO to SHIZUOKA
横濱チャーハン | 540 Yen
During a short day trip to Shizuoka, I grabbed an ekiben by Kiyoken while transiting at Shin-Yokohama Station. The ekiben, named “Yokohama chāhan” (横濱チャーハン) is basically Chinese style fied rice with prawn, egg shavings and peas. Along with it there were some shiumai and a piece of sweet and sour chicken. It was quite ordinary.
30 品目バランス弁当 | 850 Yen
From Tokyo to Nagano, I had the Sanjuu Hinmoku Baransu Bentō (30品目バランス弁当) which, as its name suggest contains 30 items in the bento, from the region of Kanto where Tokyo is located in. Included within the bento, just to name a few, was daigakuimo which is a kind of sweet, caramelized sweet potato, two kinds of rice, vegetables, ginseng, chicken and grilled fish. Compared to the Tohoku bento, I thought this was just okay.
NAKATSUGAWA to NAGISO
Convenience Stall Bento | Less than 800 Yen.
While I was travelling around the Kiso Valley from Matsumoto, I decided to drop by the convenience stall of Nakatsugawa Station for a bento meal. This small little bento turned out to be pretty good actually. Eggplant, hard-boiled egg, chicken, lotus root, long beans, seaweed salad makes a delicious mix.
NAGOYA to KYOTO
特撰名古屋 | 1000 Yen
It was around evening when I was maki”g my way to Kyoto from Nagoya Station. Without hesitation, I had a Nagoya Speciality bento named Tokusen Nagoya.It is a four-compartment bento with supposedly the speciality food of Nagoya region. On the top left, there is Miso Katsu and Ebi Furya (also known as torpedo prawn). There is also rice with shaved egg and topped with a piece of unagi. On the top right there is onigiri with the signature Chicken karaage. Lastly a whole array of vegetables.
KYOTO to SHIN-KOBE
朝のおむすび弁当 | 400 Yen
The Asa no Omusubi is a breakfast bento that I got from Kyoto Station while making my way to Kobe for a short day trip. It has two substantial onigiri and elements of a classic Japanese breakfast such as tamago, kamaboko, salmon and pickled radish. I am somewhat amused by the box design, which is compact and narrow when closed and gets wider when you open it so that you could consume the food with ease.
SHIN-KOBE to KYOTO
但馬牛めし | 1100 Yen
On the way back from Kobe to Kyoto, I couldn’t resist getting a beef bento from Shin-Kobe station, among the many “wagyu” or “Kobe beef” ekiben, I got the Tanbagyū Meshi (但馬牛めし) by Awaji-ya, it is basically rice with thin slices of really fragrant beef as well as some glass noodles, carrots, Japanese pepper and boiled burdock to go with it. Quite decent.