Yummy Japanese food from Konbini (convenience stores)

One of the things I love so much about Japan is that you can go to a konbini or convenience store anywhere in the big cities, and get really healthy, cheap food. I often have salads, sometimes with prawns or other protein in them, a little bit of pasta, and some salad dressing on the side. The great thing is – every pack is marked so you know EXACTLY how much fat, protein, carbs and overall calories are in your item.

 

As you can see, they are pretty small by western standards…so just buy a few! I actually like having lots of little different types of food – it’s like assmbling your own bento box :)

 

As I mentioned, you can buy a sachet of salad dressing separately, in various flavours, and again with the calories helpfully delineated on the back.

  

 I thought some greens might be healthy, so got a mixed dish with what looked like bok choy, beans, a little potato and egg.

 

And look, each dish was only 198 yen, which is around $2.45 AUD. This is why many of us say it’s actually cheap to eat in Japan…if you go to the right places.

Sometimes I grab a tuna salad if I haven’t had time to eat before going out…just grab on the way home, eat in the hotel room, freshen up and head out again!

And some pics of the other lovely food items on display….

At the top of the above pic you can see a row of little sandwiches…they are my fave thing to have on hand in the bar fridge at the hotel, for those hangover mornings when you need a bit of sustenance before heading out. Tuna &  mayonnaise is my favourite. There are also soups, pastas and hot foods for those who want a hot meal.

 

The only time I saw an empty shelf in a grocery store/kombini was just after the tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdown, when everyone was buying bottled water in bulk, not being sure if the drinking water was safe. Apparently it was safer than the amount of radiation in Europe’s water, but there you go, such was the media influence and scared uncertainty of the time.

Another tip of mine for those who need a coffee in the morning to get going, is to get a couple of coffees in cans the night before, and stash them in your bar fridge. They go ever so well with the sandwiches, and help you to be alert enough to go out and get a real coffee from a coffee shop.

I have to admit I’ve done a 2am konbini run when I’ve been awake and starving in my hotel room – what a godsend to hungry people in the middle of the night!

If you haven’t yet been to Japan, I tell you don’t be afraid of just walking in and having a nose around (you can even get beers and other alcohol there too). If you’ve been, what were your favourite delicacies from the kombini? Sushi rolls? The steamed buns or fried chicken near the checkouts? Or what?

Returning to Penang

It’s weird going back to a place you’ve been previously. There’s the thrill as you remember how good last time was, combined with some nervousness that it won’t be as good this time round. Add to that, I was travelling with hubby Dom this time, and it was with some trepidation that I introduced him to my beloved Penang.

I needn’t have worried.

Penang – home of arguably the best food in Malaysia, historic shophouses and grand colonial mansions, with harbour views (if you have the right hotel) and 24 hour service be it street food, convenience stores or curry houses – what’s not to like?

After a long day’s travel from Kapilai, including a few hours stopover and walkabout in Kota Kinabalu, we were both ravenous by the time we hit Penang. Dumping our bags in the hotel, we hurried to the Red Garden, an open-air hawker centre nearby. You may remember my post on Luscious Laksa in Penang from last year, where I talked about the various foods there – if you haven’t, check it out!

I had the Assam Laksa that is (as I mentioned in last years Penang post), not based on a coconut broth as normal laksa is, but a sweet/sour combo of pineapple juice, tamarind and more. We shared a plate of assorted satay sticks with peanut sauce, and Dom had frogs legs in garlic. I found the laksa fishier tasting than last year’s ones, and not quite as delicious as I remembered – but the satay and frogs legs were YUM!

As you can see, they were washed down with a cold Tiger beer or three, and after a good meal and refreshing bevvie, it was time to hit the sack. And what a sack! This time we stayed at the Cititel on Jalan Penang, and it is very modern and stylish, with fab views over the harbour.

What we were looking forward to the next morning was having a roti canai and teh tarik at the Malay/Indian place just a few doors up, the Restoran Jaya. I mentioned this in last years post, the badly punned “Currying Favour in Georgetown“.

Oh, the roti was so flaky and beautiful, with a lovely tasty curry, and Dom’s lamb-filled roti was delicious too. Um, we drank our teh tariks before I thought to get a pic – but you know what a cuppa tea looks like. Dom loved the place as much as me, and we returned the next morning as well. I can highly recommend this place for all sorts of food – and it’s open 24 jam! That means 24 hours in Malay – and it means you can get a feed any time, day or night. Gotta love Malaysia! I didn’t get the street address, but it’s on Jalan Penang, right opposite Kafe 78.

A little lie down was in order after our hearty brekkie, as we had a big day ahead of us, fitting in seeing the sites of old Penang, as well as eating some great Curry Mee and Char Kway Teow (yes, at the angry aunty’s famous CKT place).  But that can wait for another post – all this food writing is making me hungry!!

Have you been to Penang? What are your fave food places – especially for breakfast and roti canai?