Japanese boxed lunches are a good travel mate, and can even be quite fun. Here’s a cute, delicious one that will continue to delight even after its original contents are long gone!
“Hipparidako meshi” boxed lunch (a play on words: “hipparidako” means something that’s hugely popular, and also includes the word “dako” which comes from the word meaning octopus in Japanese).
Replicating the pots used for catching octopus, a cute 3-dimensional octopus is depicted on the sides.
Obviously the pot doesn’t contain a whole octopus, but it is filled to the brim with ingredients, and looks delicious!
Awajiya, a well-established shop founded in 1903, thought up this particular boxed lunch to commemorate the opening of Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in 1998. Though it was first sold at Nishi-Akashi Station along the Sanyo shinkansen line, it’s become a standard long-selling product at several other stations.
While Hipparidako Meshi’s main act (stewed Akashi octopus) waits in the middle, simmered conger eel, shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, rape blossom, carrot, and shredded egg garnish the environs. The visuals are impressive. Beneath these ingredients, seasoned rice prepared with vegetables awaits.
Akashi octopus refers to the common octopus caught in the sea area of the Akashi channel. Its delicious flavor is the result of growing in the channel’s fast currents.
As well as making its tentacles short, thick and firm, the meat of the octopus is lean due to fighting the fast tidal currents. As a result of feeding on the abundance of crabs that thrive in the sea area, the meat also has a sweetness to it.
If you visit Akashi’s Uonotana shopping street, you’ll see fishing boxes filled with Akashi octopus on the road in front of seafood shops. Sometimes you can even see octopus crawling out of them!
Well then, on the flavor of the Hipparidako Meshi: it’s so delicious that even though it contains fluffy rice cooked on a soy sauce base, you could just gulp down pots of it. As you can eat it with each of the ingredients, you’ll enjoy this boxed lunch to the last bite.
And I am not exaggerating when I say to the last bite: When you reach the bottom of the pot, you will find a piece of tempura made with octopus paste. As your chopsticks hit it, you feel the same level of happiness as if you’ve just lifted the pot from the ocean floor with an octopus inside!
After you finish eating, keep the pot as a souvenir and find fun ways to use it (microwave safe).
Price: JPY1000 (tax included)
Direct sales: JR Nishi-Akashi Station, JR Shin-Kobe Station, JR Kobe Station, JR
Producer: Awajiya Co.,Ltd.
Location: 3-6-18 Uozaki Minamimachi, Higashinada ward, Kobe city, Hyogo prefecture
Advanced reservations: http://www.awajiya.co.jp/orderform/ekiben_order.htm
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Madoka Hori
Madoka Hori / Photo-writer Entrepreneurial translator/writer living in Hyogo. As a licensed English tour guide, she occasionally takes tourists to beautiful destinations such as Kobe, Himeji, Okayama, Kyoto, and Osaka and her clients have never got lost so far. On Setouchi Finder, as one of the original team members, she enjoys taking photos and sharing her favorite hidden gems. Private Photo Blog http://riderv328.tumblr.com Twitter https://twitter.com/Riderv328
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