Has anyone eaten gas station food in Japan. How was it

I read that due to the Japanese lifestyle (people eating in a hurry), that Japanese food from gas stations is sometimes better than the food you get in decent restaurants in the states. The sushi in particular.

Can anyone who has been there confirm or deny this claim? I’ve never been.

I’ve spent about a month in Japan in total, and I think I only saw one petrol station. It’s in this picture – I didn’t go inside it, but it doesn’t look as if it sells food.

If a petrol station in Japan does sell food, I’d expect it to be of a similar quality to what is sold in convenience stores in Japan. You can find those on every street corner, and they sell a wide variety of food of a good quality at very reasonable prices. If you were living in Japan on a budget, you could happily live on convenience store foods – and yes, they do sell sushi.

I’ve spent a couple weeks in Japan. They drive on the left, like the UK does, and have excellent public transportation, and these are two powerful disincentives for me to try renting a car there. With all the great food options, it would never enter my mind to walk into a gas station there or buy food in one. The “gas station sushi” meme was an election year thing, as in “I would trust GAS STATION SUSHI before I trusted [insert name of dreaded candidate].” This refers to American gas station sushi, which people have gotten horribly sick from eating.

I was stationed in Japan for three years. I had many meals from the Sunkus (chain of convenience stores) down the street. Some actually quite good, none were terrible.

They actually had some of the best pot stickers I ever had.

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I believe that you got it a bit garbled. It’s prepared food at convenience stores in Japan that is supposed to be significantly better than what you would find at, say, a 7/11 in the US.

I’ve never been, so I can’t personally speak to the accuracy of this, but I’ve seen multiple people say that it’s night and day.

My kid goes on week-long video shoots in Tokyo. They eat almost nothing but sushi and baos and pork and egg dishes from 7/11s. He says it’s better than the Japanese restaurants back home.

Unless things have changed since I lived in Japan, gas stations are usually not food options or combined with convenience stores like they are in the States. The main exceptions are highway rest stations on the national expressways. Most gas stations in Japan are full-service, where the attendants rush out and pump your gas, wipe your windows, and so on, so the customers don’t leave their cars.

Now convenience store food in Japan is very memorable, with a vast selection of prepared cold foods, warmable foods, bento box meals, and hot food options. You will see a LOT of things you would hard pressed to find in Japanese restaurants stateside unless you are in a city with a large Japanese presence. For example, you almost never see what the Japanese call “yoshoku” (i.e. “Western food”, but a Japanese approximation of it) in Japanese restaurants in the U.S, but it’s a staple of convenience store food.

I used to hit my local convenience stores (Lawson and 7-11) for: karaage (Japanese boneless fried chicken), and croquettes kept under the heat lamps, oden (they ladle the broth into your container, and you pick your ingredients (hard-boiled egg, fishcake, etc) by the piece. I also remember buying Nikujaga, Hayashi rice, and omuraisu.

Here’s an overview of convenience store food.

That being said, sushi is the one thing I wouldn’t buy in a Japanese convenience store is sushi, nosily because I had much better options to get better, fresher inexpensive sushi such as the fish/sushi counter at the supermarket, and chain conveyor-belt sushi restaurants.

I am so glad to be able to answer this question.

In the US, gas stations and convenience stores are the same thing. In Japan, they’re always (in my experience) separate.

So, considering convenience stores in isolation, I have always found that they have really good food. Now some things are amenable to being made at 6am and stored cold or hot the rest of the day (sandwiches, onigiri, chicken skewers, a bubbling pot of oden), and some really don’t (the sushi, which is as good as you get from like Whole Foods in the US, which isn’t saying much). In Japan I found I could live very healthy without ever cooking, much more so than in the US. In fact I really miss having these healthy options on the go.

I keep telling anyone who listens that if somebody opened a Japanese convenience store in the US they could print their own money by providing healthy fresh food and conveniences, but I guess that shows how little I know about business.

That link is fascinating, as is this whole thread. :slight_smile:

Do the convenience stores that sell this food also sell groceries (cereal, bread, kleenex, cans of beans, or the Japanese equivalent) like the convenience stores here do?

Absolutely, and they also have soft drinks, beer, whisky and all the other things you might need. Some of them are associated with super markets so you will find the same goods in both stores. Also, you can pay for goods that you buy online so that you don’t have to use a credit card. They will have kiosks that you type in the number you were given at checkout online and then take receipt to the front to pay. Another thing you can do is pay for taxes and social security. Once again you bring a payment stub that you received from the government, pay, and then they stamp it and give it back.

As a side note 7-Eleven is a Japanese company. The division in Japan was so successful that it bought the US company.


Yeah I may be confusing convenience stores and gas stations. Over here they are mostly one and the same.

One of my favorite newsish sites often covers Japanese convenience stores. Sample a few articles. (Here is one of the most recent ones.)

Have visited Japan but not eaten gas-station food. But the premise in the OP would not surprise me, as the Japanese just tend to everything really, really well.

I’d say that convenience store food in Japan ranges from McDonald’s quality to pre-prepared supermarket food quality.

Ignoring the Olive Garden, or something like that, I wouldn’t say that it’s better than food from a proper restaurant, but it’s fine.

7-eleven is reputed to have the best pre-packaged meals of all the convenience stores as they use lesser amounts of preservatives.

Now I want sushi. :frowning:

Pizza and Mexican food… not so much. Not that it’s their job, but just set your expectations if you get a craving for pizza in Japan.

One of my favorite cold foods from convenience stores was the ubiquitous katsu sando.

Basically, it’s cold tonkatsu (breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet) with a Demi-glace sauce on a sandwich. Here’s an article on how the humble Katsu Sando is making its way into more upscale bars and restaurants stateside.

I watched a YouTube gameshow a while back that had all the people stop at various convenience stores along the way, and it seemed that they all had specialties with their food, which was interesting.

It was strip-car riding game, but it never got raunchy: the point was just that they were in a convertible and would be cold as they lost clothing.

That is most likely because each region of Japan has it’s own food specialty, so the convenience stores will sell it along with their regular fare. This is similar to the train station lunches (Ekiben). I have also seen different food specialties at the rest stops on the toll roads in Japan.