I was back in The Big Smoke again for the long weekend and let me say, I’ve noticed some changes I didn’t mention in my East vs West konbini [コンビニ] column a few weeks back.
Maybe it’s because I’m staying in a different part of the city, but damn man…
My two, big gripes:
Easy answer: walk.
In fact, I sang to myself as I walked: “I would walk 500 miles…” And I nearly bloody did to get what I wanted. I also discovered the shelves are almost bare on the weekends and public holidays, but during the week they’re loaded and almost groaning in protest.
Lesson learned: if you are looking for anpan or melon-pan during a weekend or public holiday, forget it and be content with something else from the bread range at konbini.
Many of the inner city konbini do not have toilet facilities. I don’t know if it’s because of the high population density and thus they assume there is more chance that there are some people who are grots who will foul up the toilet, but it’s most inconvenient… and therefore, the name, ‘konbini,’ is not really true here.
Lesson learned: go to the toilet before you leave your hotel.
I have a third issue with konbini in Tokyo:
Now konbini are found all over Japan and although I understand there would be some small differences due to region and food availability etc. I do not believe that prices should be any different.
But they are.
Anpan continues to p*ss me off/haunt me/taunt me because not only is it smaller as I mentioned a few weeks back, but it costs more. Like 118 yen instead of 100.
WHY ARE WE PAYING MORE FOR LESS?!
Mind you, I should mention the fact that it’s a 7-Premium product which are products that pursue seven (fancy that!) goals including #5 Universal design and #7 Reasonable prices.
I find these two factors highly amusing because if the product isn’t in Hiroshima than it’s not universal and if it’s smaller, but more expensive, it’s not reasonable pricing.
Continuing with the anpan theme (I think I have a slight obsession)…
While at 7-Eleven in Tokyo I discovered a new mochi mochi koshi an donut [もちもちこしあんドーナツ], which I got all excited about and actually did a little jig in the aisle.
This drew a few looks, but I suspect this was because of my outfit, not because anyone thought I was a weirdo who didn’t care where I danced.
I was torn between the ordinary anpan and the (Dough)nut of Pleasure because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find it back in Hiroshima. I ended up going for the ordinary
(not something I usually do!) one and took a chance on finding it in
Hiroshima, which I can happily report, I did. And yes, it is delicious.
Another thing I should point out, is that the ordinary anpan in Tokyo seems to only come in koshi an [こしあん] which is the smooth type of strained bean paste. This is disappointing because I like the chunky tsubu [つぶ]. If this is the only type available in the Tokyo area, I can’t help but feel the people are missing out on something vital to their lives…
Anyway, they’re just a few of the main observations I made during my exploration of konbini in Tokyo.
I also spotted (I feel like a bird watcher) a Mini Stop in my neighbourhood, although these are generally few and far between in comparison to the other konbini. They do boast something unique though: a kitchen where fresh meals are prepared. I may be a konbini junkie, I have to say that the words, ‘fresh,’ and ‘konbini,’ rarely go together. Even I have to admit that! I know some Daily Yamazaki branches also have a kitchen, but theirs is more about bakery-related products and fresh sandwiches. Still… it is an option and a good choice if you can feel your arteries hardening with every mouthful of konbini food you take.
On a completely unrelated topic, I managed to snap two photos of the champon [ちゃんぽん], that Nagasaki noodle dish I spoke of last week. I was lucky enough to find it hiding in its natural habitat which I hadn’t been able to do previously because it’s super popular.
That’s all for this week. I’m off to start writing next week’s column which is about some of the Halloween products I’ve discovered and tasted.
Enjoy your week!