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While traveling by bullet train, having a delicious bento to eat enhances the fun experience of the journey. Although you could buy bento from the trolly or go to the restaurant carriage, you will have more options if you buy the bento from Tokyo Station, which is one of the main Shinkansen hubs. Ekibenya Matsuri and Daimaru Tokyo Station are two popular places where they sell various kinds of bento. There are smaller shops as well but for this list, I have chosen popular bento from these two places. Alternatively, you can always buy food from a convenience store. The great part about buying food at a convenience store is the variety. You can eat an onigiri, sandwich, salad as well as dessert if you so desire.
An ekiben is a bento sold at a train station or within a train. Each station sell a bento which contains food from that area. In the past, people would have had to travel to those places to eat the local specialities but now, you can buy them at Tokyo Station. Over 170 ekiben from all over the country are sold at Ekibenya Matsuri. It is located on Central Street on the first floor of Tokyo Station City and is open everyday from 5:30am to 11:00pm, so even if you are traveling on an early or late train, you will still be able to buy a bento.
1. Bullet Train E7 Bento
This bento can be enjoyed by both adults and children. There are various different bullet train shaped bento sold throughout Japan and this one is E7. It is sold for 1,300 yen. The container can be used later as your own special bento box.
2. Tokyo Bento
Tokyo Bento is only sold at Tokyo Station and it contains food made by popular gourmet restaurants in Tokyo. For example, Tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelette) is from Sushitama Aoki at the Tsukiji Fish Market and beef tsukudani (beef cooked in sweetened soy sauce) is from Asakusa Imahan. It is sold for 1,650 yen.
3. Beef Domannaka
Beef Domannaka is a bento from Yamagata prefecture and is made of Yonezawa beef and and Yonezawa rice “Domannaka”. Beef is cooked in sugar and soy sauce and is popular among all generations. It is sold for 1,150 yen.
4. Touge no Kamameshi
The unique thing about Touge no Kamameshi is that it comes in a ceramic kama. Chicken, matsutake mushrooms, quail eggs, bamboo shoots, chestnuts etc are put on top of rice cooked in special sauce. Although it might be a bit heavy, if you do take the ceramic container home with you, you can cook 1 gou of rice (about 150g) with it. It is believed that rice tastes better when cooked this way than with a rice cooker or stainless steel pot. Although it is in Japanese, there is a website which explains with images how to cook using this container*. It is sold for 1,000 yen. * oginoya.co.jp
Daimaru Tokyo Hoppe Town
Daimaru Tokyo Hoppe Town sells not only bento but also desserts and also has a delicatessen. It is open from Monday to Friday 10am to 9pm and on weekends and public holidays from 10am to 8pm. It sells various food and is not limited to travelers so it can get crowded.
1. Kakiyasu Gyumeshi
Kakiyasu Gyumeshi is made of Japanese famous Wagyu beef. Beef is cooked in the secret sauce of Kakiyasu. It is sold for 1,301 yen.
2. Takimoto Zeitaku Mille-feuille
Zeitaku Mille-feuille is layers of sushi rice and shrimp, crab, salmon roe, and herring roe. Although at 1,728yen it is a bit expensive, if you like sushi, this will definitely satisfy your craving for salmon roe and herring roe.
3. Kiyouken Shumai Bento
Shumai Bento is the cheapest bento on this list and costs 800 yen. The main part of the bento is shumai (siu mai), but it also contains chicken karaage (deep fried chicken), tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelette) and teriyaki tuna and vegetables.
4. Meat Yazawa Kuroge Wagyu Hamburg Bento
Kuroge Wagyu Hamburg Bento contains a meat patty made of Wagyu beef. This is why although it only contains one meat patty and rice and some vegetables it costs 1,580 yen.
(Thumbnail image: stivoberlin/Flickr)