The stomp of people shoes hurrying to go to their destination. The rumble of the train tracks. The frenzy feeling when entering a Japan train station for the first time. On August 17th, 9AM to be exact, I’m standing in the center of Tokyo Station where my mind and eyes tried to comprehend and filtered the countless information I need to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto using the fastest bullet train in the world, Shinkansen. After thorough researched, I know that Tokyo station is one of the paradise of getting a Bento. Then, as the local custom we eat the bento upon boarding our Shinkansen.
There’s a well-known proverb, “We eat with our eyes first,” yet very few they take the time to truly experience this. Varieties of bento style from a typical bento, Kyaraben bento or character bento derived from anime characters, to Oekakiben Bento or picture bento where homemakers diligently decorated the bento to look like people / animal / building. I’m sure my eyes were very satisfied. Looking at the price tag a bento could cost from Yen 500 to up to Yen 2000 depends on the ingredients and quantity of each bento. Bento is not expensive. With each boxes pack with variety of ingredients to satisfy your health needs.
From the various bento’s out there I hurriedly take snapshot off, I finally decided on one Bento that caught my eye. The one that consists beef. The downside is I forgot what the name of the bento, as I’m too excited to savor it. Upon paying Yen 850 to the nice cashier lady who’s been a big help answering my questions of which one to choose the perfect bento to try on the first time, I hurried to my platform to board the JR Shinkansen that would take me from Tokyo to Kyoto.
There are 5 dishes inside my Japanese bento box; teriyaki beef, golden fried caustic, Slices tofu in black paper sauce, honey mustard shrimp, and potato meatballs. All this comes with simple yellow fried rice.
Japanese food has been a part of my family. Back where my mother and grandmother used to live in Japan because of my grandfathers work. Since then, the house has been filled with sumptuous Japanese home cooked dinner, ingredients, and countless trip to try to find the best Japanese restaurants in Jakarta.
Opening the plastic lid I can smell the mix of black paper and a tint of sweetness. I tried to take a moment before I started my first bite. Upon smelling and mind fully take all the bento has to offer, I can recall eating Japanese beef at a restaurant in Jakarta surrounded by my family. The click clack chopsticks sounds as my siblings try to get their hands on the first dish. The rolling eyes of my parents knowing their 20s something children still act like little kids. And, my excitement seeing our order arrived. But this is different. It is better. Slightly off the scent and experience, but the sweet, spices, and feeling are all there.
Next, I tried the golden fried crabstick. It is crunchy on the outside yet tender on the inside. The sweet and saltines of the crab mix perfectly in my mouth. Glazing honey mustard shrimp added a sweetness and sea flavor to the whole dish. Finally I mixed the yellow fried rice that surprisingly taste like pineapple. Considering this food comes already cold or room temperature it is surprisingly enjoyable to eat it. The experienced of eating bento inside the moving bullet train while gazing at the Tokyo city view moving at 320 km/hour speed was wondrous.
Certainly the awesomeness of the bento presentation enhances the flavor of each dish. I’m sure there will many more adventure of eating another bento. Just like now, while the conductor already announce that we’re going to arrive soon at Kyoto; the final destination of the day, I have a feeling that my next bento experience would not be far long. As Japanese train station is famous with array of bento and delightful dishes for the Epicurean in you.