While you’re probably familiar with 7-Eleven’s many slurpy flavors in the United States, and its (infamous) status of serving as the place to grab a quick midnight snack or the in-desparate-need bathroom break location on road trips…it’s never associated with quality food or really as a place you choose to go to willingly. But the title up there is no exaggeration. Though we frequently fantasize about the many pieces of sushi we sampled at specialty restaurants, mouthwatering gyoza, and tasty ramen…our unexpected dinner at 7-Eleven was one of our favorite discoveries while in Japan!
We may have been in dire need when we first entered in to the Japanese 7-Eleven, but we willingly went back over and over again. Seriously.
We arrived in Osaka around 7 p.m. on a Friday night, after flying for a better part of the day (about 2 hours from Brisbane to Cairns, then another 7 hours from Cairns to Osaka). We had researched and planned how we were going to get to our hotel before we even left Brisbane—take the train from the airport into the city, and then it would just be a quick metro to our hotel. That seemed like the simplest solution as we weren’t sure if Uber was a thing in Japan or not (Hint: it’s not). However, when we got in to Osaka, there were flash-flood alerts, and the trains were no longer running.
Our plan quickly crumbled and we found the nearest help station, doing our best to communicate where we needed to go. The kind lady at the booth mapped out instructions for us and directed us to take several different metros (changing 2 or 3 times) and we would get to our destination in the city…about 2 or so hours later.
We hadn’t planned for this, nor did we have any Japanese yen on us just yet, so we scurried around looking for an ATM, and almost an hour later, were on our way via the metro.
Once we finally got in to Osaka and checked in to our hotel, it was well past 11 p.m. We initially thought we’d be to our accommodation around 8 or 9 p.m.—which would have been the prime time to sample our first bowl of Japanese ramen. However, when we finally made it out to the streets of Osaka, damp and dewy from the rain, we couldn’t help but notice how quiet they were.
Some lights flickered on and off in an eerie sort of way, we saw the many vending machines on the streets with their green teas and coffee drinks. It almost felt like we were walking around in a video game, especially with the flickering streetlights, the occasional cyclist, and the rhythmic buzzing of the cicadas.
We popped in to a few places that looked like they might be open…their lights were still on and the bamboo covering on the door slightly pulled to one side. But no such luck—it seemed to be friends and family time with a tight-knit group, drinking night caps and tea.
So, we kept walking, our stomachs grumbling over the sound of the cicadas.
And then we saw something…familiar: the neon glowing lights of 7-Eleven. “7-Eleven?” We both asked in surprise. We weren’t too thrilled with the idea of slurpees and stale donuts, but I remembered a friend of my parents mentioned something about loving 7-Eleven in Japan and not to discount it.
So, we went in.
To our complete and utter delight, it was like walking in to a vibrant candy shop full of goodies you absolutely want to sample.
We perused the colorful aisles, taking in the fun packaging, and eyeing all sorts of ramen. Their refrigerated section had an ample supply of sushi, onigiri (rice balls wrapped in seaweed with delicious fillings), specialty drinks, mochi, and of course, bento boxes. No slurpees or stale donuts in sight.
We gathered up handfuls of whatever looked good: karaage (fried chicken), green tea, mochi ice cream, and an assortment of soups. All in all, it came out to about $20 USD (~2200 yen).
Low and behold, our first meal in Japan was actually a success. So, if you ever find yourself in Japan—7-Eleven is definitely worth the visit.
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