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  • Glynn

Shinkansen Dining

Updated: Jul 9, 2021

One of the many treats Japan has to offer is the variety of snacks, meals and beverages when you travel. Let me introduce you to this taste experience.

A small snack before we get stuck into the ekiben! Dried squid and a beer. Believe it or not...a perfect combination at 300km/h (186mph).

Bento boxes on steroids!

One of the many treats Japan offers is the variety of snacks, meals and beverages when you travel. Let me introduce you to one of these, the taste experience that is the Ekiben. Eki in Japanese, meaning station and ben taken from bento (lunchbox) makes for an exciting feast for the eyes and your taste buds alike.

If you wish to experience Japanese food in one sitting, then this could be the quick sampler that will help you discover what you like and don’t like about the fare that this country offers. There are many varieties of Ekiben, often based upon the prefectures where they were made and the local availability of fresh ingredients that provide a variety of rices, fish, chicken, clams, vegetables, tofu, pickles and much more.

Now… this is not the moment to decide to practice your chopstick skills, you will not want to lose a morsel to the carpeted floor or the airline style fold-down table. And you WILL, have an audience. Either from onlookers who maybe sharing their tonkatsu sandwich - katsu sando. Not that a juicy piece of pork and brown sauce surrounded by perfectly trimmed white bread be overlooked. Or maybe from the rushed business person who missed the opportunity to grab a bite to eat as they dashed to the train.

As you unwrap this, special present to yourself, take a moment to appreciate the effort that went into the presentation and wrapping paper that many of the more upmarket ekiben enjoy. Also keep an eye out for the steward that, on most Shinkansen, cruise the aisle with their trolley cart carrying an assortment of drinks and light snacks, airliner style. You’ve gone this far, so why not treat yourself to a cold beer.

Now when I’ve picked out an ekiben, most of the time, it was based on appearance not content. Which meant that it truly became a lottery of flavours and new experiences, making it a fun way to dine while appreciating the scenery that you would not get from an airliner… Sky! Sky! Sky!

A tip…

They maybe bite size pieces, but take the time to nibble at some of them. You’ll more easily appreciate the seasonings and sauces.

And you could discover some of the following:

Anago - Freshwater eel

Ayu - Sweetfish

Saba - Mackerel

Shake - Salmon

Kamabako - Fish cake

Karage - Fried chicken

Dashimaki - Egg rolled with dashi

Charwanmushi - Egg custard with dashi and chicken


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