After a 90-minute Shinkansen ride from Sendai to Tokyo, I had a short stop at the Tokyo station. My friend was there waiting for me and she took me to the Food Floor of Daimaru Department store. In Japanese we call it デパ地下 (pronounced DEPA CHIKA), literally means the basement floor of a department store and it is like a gourmand’s paradise. In Japan when it comes to food it is possible to get anything. Chocolate from Paris, Salmon from Norway, Olive oil from Greece, you name it, you’ll get it. Here in Depa Chika in Japan, you will be overwhelmed by the quantity and the variety of the food they sell and as the location of this store explains, it is an important meeting point of food from different international and domestic markets.
At a tempura shop in Depa Chika.
As I was on the way to Kyoto we were looking for a good Ekiben (Bento you eat on the train). In the food floor of Tokyo Daimaru Department Store there is a designated path called ”Obento Street”. It is a lane with bento shops on both sides and you should never come there with a hungry stomach. It will be a BIG TROUBLE. We walked up and down the street being overwhelmed and indecisive, there are so many shops selling attractive bentos. They all look so fresh and yummy, how can we decide only one bento? It is almost a cruelty!
After a long discussion, I chose my bento for the day, it was a traditional Japanese bento, prepared by a famous Japanese restaurant called Nadaman, in the theme of autumn, a beautiful bento full of Japanese delicacy.
There were three compartments, from left a piece of salmon was marinated in Saikyo Miso and grilled, fresh salmon roe, shredded thin egg omelet, tiny carrots shaped like a maple leaf and boiled snow peas were placed on top of rice. Rice was mixed with some Okaka (dry bonito flakes).
In the middle compartment, I had a cooked shiitake, an Ebi Imo (a kind of Taro) and a slice of lotus root, a cooked fish ball, Maitake mush room, a ginko nut. These ingredients were all cooked and prepared in a good Japanese dashi-broth and it all had a wonderful flavor. In the third compartment I had a shrimp, a skewer of grilled chicken meat balls, a squid tempura, Tamagoyaki, Konnyaku, a green pepper, a red paprika cut like a maple leaf, a sweet mochi and black beans for dessert.
What a lunch! What a bento! It was really an authentic Japanese treat of Ekiben. (I really liked this bento so much that I bought it again in Tokyo later)
This good bento fully recharged me on the way to Kyoto. Shinkansen Hikari #513 left Tokyo 12:33 and I arrived Kyoto at 15:14.
Upon my arrival a friend in Kyoto greeted me in the Kyoto dialect “Okoshiyasu” (it means Welcome). And I replied back “Ookini” likewise (it means Thank you).
I came back to Kyoto, a beautiful old city with a long ancient history. A year ago I was here. Has it been really 1 year? It seems the time does not mean anything in Kyoto. 1 year is really nothing in this old city….
Rie - Bento specialist, Oslo, Norway
Hello, I love to cook and bake and I enjoy making bento everyday. I was one of the finalists at Bento&co’s contest in 2011 and later I joined Bento&co as Bento Specialist. I am living in Norway now but I am originally from Ishikawa in Japan where many of Bento&co’s bento boxes are made. I try to make bentos that are as beautiful as they are delicious, and I like to show you how to add more sparkles in your bento life! - Rie