Sake Gumi
If you have a big trip involving a shinkansen (bullet train) in Japan, you will inevitably run into the question of which bento to buy for your lunch or dinner for the train ride. Katsu? Eel? Gyoza? Grilled fish???? This is a big thing for Japanese people, as we are always asking ourselves, "What do I want to eat?" and "Will food and alcohol be served there (and if not, how can I come prepared?)?"

My family is from Yokohama, so to represent, I always always get the Kiyoken shumai bento, which started in Yokohama in 1859. They make the best shumai EVER and are sold in every major train station in Yokohama and Tokyo.

They've got this trademark red wrapping paper that you can't miss- here's a funny pic I found breaking down the Kiyoken box offerings (It says, "Although it falls into the ekiben (sic. train station bento) category, shumai is sold at KIOSK so if you are hungry late at night, you can buy one and eat it."). They are famous for the little ceramic soy sauce dispensers that come in all shumai boxes sold at these kiosks (not included in bentos).

At one point in time, bentos were sold on the train, but now you've gotta fend for yourself and buy before boarding. You will find bento stations in all train stations, and bento/beverage shops on all shinkansen train platforms.

Once the train pulls out of the station, you are sure to notice people immediately taking out their lunches and cracking open their cans of beer. I'm telling you, Japanese people are all food, all the time. There is never time to get hungry in Japan, is there???

Here's my Kiyoken bento! I pre-mustarded my shumai... There's also some hijiki, a fried chicken, piece of egg custard, kamaboko fish cake, some stewed fish and root vegetables. The rice is pre-rolled into indiviually-sized pieces. They think of everything.

Here's the bento wrapping so you recognize this at the station- there are a million different brands so beware and look out for this one!

They do however, sell drinks on the train so if you, like me, forgot to buy beer before taking off, you can buy one from the cute girls with the carts.


Thanks to Fuminatto for the Kiyoken box translation.

1 comment

  • Yup, I was born in Yokohama. I usually get into Narita around 6pm, take the bus to Yokohama station, and get two Shumai Bentos before I check into my hotel. Loves these bentos. I’ve contacted Kiyoken to see if they ship their shumai, but their official response was no. Bummer …

    bass on

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