Anime Foods IRL| Ekiben (Station Bento)

Anime Foods IRL| Ekiben (Station Bento)

Hihi my BAYOG lovelies! It’s Minty, BAYOG’s fatty and Hella Basic Asian Chick. I’m back with another Anime Foods IRL post! We’ve previously talked about [Nama Choco/Valentine’s Day Chocolate], [Ramen], [Fluffy Japanese Pancakes], and [Crepes].Today’s topic is the Ekiben, or Train Bento!

Food Anime GIF - Food Anime Delicious GIFs

I’m sure we’ve all seen a bento. It’s basically like the Japanese version of a lunch box or boxed meal. Many anime, manga, or drama series will have a scene where a character is preparing the lunch bento.

弁当 ランチ 昼ごはん GIF - Bento LunchBox GIFs

Sometimes it’s of them eating their bento at school or work. There are even times where there’s a special bento for a special occasion, like hanami viewing. Other times it’s a simple and quick bento from a convenience store.

お正月 お節 おせち あけまして GIF - Anime Food Bento GIFs

A bento can be a humble or extravagant. They can be simple or incredibly intricate and decorated. They often blow western lunch boxes to shame though. Alot of love, care, and time can be involved in making a bento. The contents of a bento varies. They can be comprised of just a few little ingredients and dishes, or they can have a whole variety of things. Either way, it’s supposed to be a balanced and delicious meal.

Lunch Food GIF - Lunch Food Bento GIFs

However, there’s another type of bento. It’s one that we’ve also seen a few times too. That would be the ekiben. Ekiben comes from “eki” and “bento”. In other words, it means “station bento”. In English, they’re also known as “train bento”. Yes. It’s a special bento you buy at a train station.

弁当 ランチ 昼ごはん 揚げ物 山小屋き GIF - Bento FriedFood Tamagoyaki GIFs

Typically food and eating on a train is seen as a no-no in Japan. It’s a matter of etiquette. However, long distance trains are another story. It’s pretty common to eat a special kind of bento when you’re on a long train ride. After all, you’re bound to get hungry on a long trip. What you might not know is that there are a variety of ekiben!

There are many, many different kinds of ekiben. Certain stations in different areas or regions have special regional ekiben too! These are the ones you typically can only find at that station or area!

There is a way that you can enjoy a variety of ekiben, including many regional only ones! Just head over to Ekibenya Matsuri. Ekibenya Matsuri is located at Tokyo Station, which is a huge hub and one of the largest train stations in Japan. Ekibenya means “Ekiben Shop”, while Matsuri typically means “Festival”.

It’s a shop that sells a variety of ekiben. You can think of it as a mecca for ekiben. The variety seems endless. It’s not the only place you can buy a bento in Tokyo Station. However, it’s a highly recommended place. It’s also where you can get many regional ekiben too! My friends and I had planned on buying some before our trip to Kawaguchiko, and I wanted to buy an extra one for our trip to Kyoto. When we woke up super early to get there and buy our ekiben before we had to leave. I think we left Akihabara to get to Tokyo station at around 8:30 am. It was the morning rush hour. I can say that I’ve experienced being crammed on a Tokyo train like a sardine.

They even have bento boxes that look like the different trains!

Anyway, when we arrived, there weren’t that many customers. Which was a relief because this place is known to get packed, and the good ekiben sell out fast. The hardest part was choosing what to get though. There were just a variety of options. I honestly wanted like 10 of them. In the end I got the pork tonkatsu ekiben you saw earlier. It actually started getting really packed as I was paying too. So it definitely paid to be there early.

The other one I got was the Beef Domannaka ekiben. Apparently that one is a super popular ekiben. It’s a favorite and one of the store’s best sellers. This bento is from the Yamagata Prefecture. It made from Yonezawa rice and beef~

We actually didn’t eat our ekiben on the train though. It took us 2-3 hours to travel to Kawaguchiko. However, we had to go through several stops and trains to get there. They were also the smaller, slower local trains. They weren’t really the ones where you should be eating on anyway. So we decided to eat our ekiben after arriving at Kawaguchiko Station. The thing is we had to wait for the van from our ryokan to get us anyway. I decided to eat my Beef Domannaka one. I figured I’d save my pork cutlet for Kyoto. The Beef Domannaka was really tasty. If I remember correctly it had a sweet and salty flavor from the sugar and soy sauce. It reminded me of gyuudon. Which I absolutely love anyway. So you can tell that it was Minty approved.

As for the pork tonkatsu ekiben…I honestly couldn’t remember the details of what it was called, or where it was from. I admit that the contents got a bit shaken up from being shoved in my backpack. Anyways, I originally planned on eating it on the shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Kyoto the next day. We didn’t really have time to stop by Ekibenya Matsuri again, that’s why I had just bought it the day before. Anyway, I ended up just eating it at our Airbnb in Kyoto instead. I was just tired, and kind of getting sick. So I just didn’t want to eat while on the train. I just preferred sitting there and enjoying the view outside of the window. Anyways, I don’t remember the exact details. However, I do remember it had a little cubes of sweet tamagoyaki. The cutlet was kind of small. Still, it was really delicious. I definitely would buy it again. I think I might’ve actually liked it more than the Beef Domannaka.

My friend’s self-heating ekiben

Typically ekiben are cold. Afterall, most people don’t really buy it to eat right away. You can’t have it hot, because food safety. Warmer temperatures lead to the growth of bacteria that can make you sick and get food poisoning. So it’s ideal of the store to sell the ekiben cold. It’s to guaurantee quality and taste. However, there are self-heating ekiben!

Some ekiben have components included to help heat up your ekiben when you’re ready to eat it! My friend got a special Okayama regional bento. It had a pork cutlet and ebi meshi. Ebi meshi is a type of pilaf made with shrimp, rice, and some special sauces. Heating up the ekiben was super easy. All she had to do was pull a string on the side of the box. She then just had to wait a few minutes. You could feel the ekiben getting hot, see steam, and even hear it heating up. She enjoyed it~

Jin Eat GIF - Jin Eat Kpop GIFs

So have you had an ekiben before? Have you been to Ekibenya Matsuri? What did you think? What were your favorites, and which ekiben do you want to try?~

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