Koufuku Graffiti and Convenience Store Meals

There’s a different type of joy to be had from peeling away plastic wrappers from ready-to-eat foods and savoring the blend of tastes that have been melding for who know how long. The covering falls away, and what is left is a meal that requires nothing of the eater but the act of eating itself–no cooking, little to no cleaning beforehand, no dishes to wash. The luxury is a refreshing change from daily routines as long as you don’t look too closely at the nutrition labels.

A couple weeks ago, the ever-delicious Koufuku Grafitti sent me on a trip to the local Asian grocery store in search of my preferred to-go meals. It’s not often that I step away from slow cooker dinners and sit down restaurants, but there are times when nothing else beats the convenience and unique taste of prepared foods. And while my favorites don’t evoke specific memories like Ryou’s, I look fondly upon them as treats I never indulged in until I moved to Seattle back in 2013.

My Noms

Unlike the plethora of convenience stores that can be found in most major cities of Japan, there are only a select few where I live that I go to for my instant gratification. If I’m in the area, I try to always swing by Uwajimaya in the International District of Seattle. They’re connected to not only Kinokuniya, a fantastic Japanese book store, but also to several small restaurants offering a variety of cultural cuisines. I more often end up at the Bellevue Uwajimaya, which is smaller and doesn’t include the extra businesses as distractions from grocery shopping. Below is my “usual,” including a bento box, an additional side, and a couple of snacks/desserts.

As much as love bento boxes, my only reservation with Uwajimaya Bellevue is its lack of options; they only have the one type of bento pictured above. Perhaps this is different depending on which branch you go to, but I haven’t seen any deviations at the Bellevue location. I eat and enjoy everything that’s included, but I do wish the main meats would occasionally be switched up every month, or even every season. However, all the items appropriately retain good flavor when eaten cold. If you have problems eating cold or even room temperature food, you can separate out the items  and heat up whatever you prefer warm. My favorite inclusions are the grilled salmon, potato croquettes, pickled veggies, and fried tofu. I never find the tiny bit of seawood salad in the bento enough, so usually opt to buy an additional standalone side.

I tried out baumkuchen after seeing anime characters happily gobbling it down, like Shiina of Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo and Genko of Kobato. The one pictured here is way bigger than most others that I have seen in the store, and has an understated sweetness in its very dense and moist layers. While baumkuchen is one of my favorite packaged pastries, I would really like to try out the many other variations of it sometime, like ones dipped in chocolate, or flavored with green tea and cream.

Lastly, we have a local bakery called Kiki Bakery that has branches in Redmond, WA and California and supplies nearby grocery stores with their pastries. One of their products is a must buy each time I see it, their red bean paste cookies. The shiny, brushed surfaces on the flaky crust pairs beautifully with the semi-sweet red bean paste. Because of the packaging, these are very easy to re-tie and stuff into a bag if you can’t finish them all at once. I usually have no problem, given their subtle flavors that are all too easy to keep eating, but always appreciate still having some the next day.

Your Noms

What are your favorite convenience meals? Do you stop by grocery and convenience stores, or opt for fast food restaurant drive-thrus?

10 thoughts on “Koufuku Graffiti and Convenience Store Meals

  1. Rather stick with convenience stores than fast food when I’m not cooking. When I lived in California, I had this fantastic Japanese rice cake store near my place, and they made everything from scratch. Now that I live in Japan, I feel that this rice cake store was better than the Japanese ones. Maybe it has something to do with Japanese companies manufacturing the same red bean paste to all. Anyways, I’d suggest going to a small mom-and-pop shop if you’re looking for Japanese eats in the States. Oh, and do try custard or cream dorayaki or strawberry rice cakes.

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    • Cream dorayaki and strawberry rice cakes both sound fantastic! If I see them, I will definitely pick them up. I’ve tasted a couple of different custards and have so far been underwhelmed. I keep expecting there to be a reaction like Nanana’s of Nanana’s Buried Treasure, but perhaps I just don’t buy the best quality custards🙂 I really do wish I had more accessibility to shops with bento and inventive sandwiches like I always see in anime, but fast food is usually more convenient.

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      • You’ll have to look for mom-and-pop shops for the best Japanese food. There are lots of Japanese immigrants in San Francisco, Seattle, and LA, but they don’t get a lot of love. The Japanese tea cake shop I was talking about was hiding behind a somewhat-popular Chinese food restaurant.

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    • 😦😦 That sucks! Hopefully if you travel to anime conventions or cities with decent Asian grocery stores, you’ll be able to pick up some usually unobtainable snacks then.

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  2. Koufuku Grafitti is definitely on my list of anime to watch this season or now in any case. I miss all the convenient store food in japan. arrrgghh so lucky. for me being in London now i have to traps across to Chinatown to eat any “decent” asian meals, as for wrapped food such as the picture no way can i find this.😦

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    • When you have time, you should definitely try Koufuku G! I always figured you had easy access to foods like this with your frequent travel, but I didn’t realize you didn’t have much of it in London. Have you done ample research of the shops in the city? I recently discovered a Japanese bakery in the neighborhood over from me I wouldn’t have discovered without being pointed there by a friend.

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  3. […] The second of the series this season that dominated my blog with posts was Koufuku Grafitti, a fantastic series about the joy of cooking and eating with others. Including this anime in my winter lineup was a no brainer. It was produced by SHAFT in an attitude reminiscent of Hidamari Sketch, and centered on food, one of my great loves in life. It didn’t take too long into the series for me to figure out that I really should’ve made this a goal for writing episodic posts–I could have easily discussed a recipe or relevant story to tie in to each week’s release. Maybe I’ll do that next season for Shokugeki no Souma. Regardless, I did end up with posts on both takenoko gohan as well as conbini foods. […]

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