Food You Need To Try When You're In Japan Part 2
The Toukaidou Shinkansen Bento
Bento boxes are the traditional food for travelling in Japan, and there are many varieties available depending on where you are. Eki-ben are bento you can get in train stations, and they usually unique to their respective regions, with some larger station having their own varieties.
The eki-ben above is the Toukaidou Shinkansen bento, which is available in Tokyo station, and is named after the Toukaidou line, a bullet train (shinkansen) line which runs through the south-east coast of Japan from Tokyo to Osaka. This bento is known as a Makunoichi Bento, which is a type of bento that has a wide variety of food inside. In this particular bento, there are fillings themed around the various stations that the Toukaidou line runs through.
Pork buns from 551 Horai
Pork buns are a common street food in many parts of Japan, including Osaka. I think the best ones are made by 551 Horai, which is a chain-restaurant in Osaka that has been in business since 1945. There are many 551 stores dotted around Osaka, so if you visit, you’re bound to bump into one; though if you go to the flagship store in Namba-Ebisubashi shopping street, you can have freshly made ones. There’s even a branch in Kansai international airport, where you can grab some tasty souvenirs.
You can also enjoy other Chinese themed dishes at 551, including crispy noodles and Siu Mai.
Ootoya is a Japanese restaurant chain, with stores all over the Kansai region and in New York. Ootoya specialises in traditional Japanese comfort food, which is sold in “set meals”, which is how Japanese restaurants in Japan traditionally construct their menus.
The food available in Ootoya features more modest dishes that normal Japanese restaurants, especially outside Japan, would not typically feature in their menus. There’s a relatively large menu of fish, meat and vegetable dishes, you can even chose between different kinds of rice.
While there is an impression in the west that Japanese food is healthy, I think that only really applies to comfort food. A lot of the popular favourites have high sugar content or is deep fried.