This year marks the 100th anniversary of Tokyo Station as well as Grand Central Station, New York: two titans of transportation who have served their respective metropolises proud.

To honor this centennial, Grand Central hosted “Japan Week” which drew crowds to the already crowded terminal. Hearing of this, RocketNews24 sent a reporter to investigate the centerpiece of Japan Week; the ekiben counter!

Ekiben (station bento) are pre-made packaged lunches which can be bought on train station platforms all over Japan. They are special cultural items in the country as they often contain food indicative of the region they’re in. This way even if you’re just changing trains in a prefecture, you can still get a taste of it on the go.

It’s great to see New York vend such a national treasure, but can they really do it properly from so far away? This city always prides itself on high quality food, but our reporter had to make sure these ekiben meet the standards of true Japanese ekiben.

As she walked into the station often seen in films and on TV, our reporter was immediately taken by the excited atmosphere, the vaulted ceilings, and superb decorations.  The famous arch windows of the main concourse were marked “100” for the anniversary.


To the left of the central exit there was a red sign which read “Japan Week” which directed people to the venue. The hall was very festively decorated with red lanterns and cherry blossoms.


Even the Japan Rail East and Ito En (beverage company) booths raised warm feelings of home. But the counter that had the most people was the one our reporter was after.

There was a 20 minute wait in line for ekiben. The clerk and others had recommend two bentos as the ones to get, so she got one of each.

First was Hokkaido’s Kanimeshi (crab and rice) Bento which cost $17.


Coming from Hokkaido, a Japanese person would expect some fresh and delicious crab inside.  Our reporter got jazzed up at the notion of eating Hokkaido seafood in New York.

However, as she opened the box she was taken aback.  About a third of the box was just strips of fried eggs and the crab itself was needlessly sprinkled with about a tablespoon of something… possibly crab flakes.


After she did some remodeling to the bento it was time to taste.

It tasted rather good and the volume was plentiful. It should be noted, however, that Japanese women such as our reporter are not known for their voracious appetites.

Already feeling full she realized that there was another bento to eat; Hiroshima’s “Sea Eel Rice Bowl” which sold for $12.


After the surprise she received from the previous bento our reporter was ready for anything. Also, how could the quality of Hiroshima’s seafood hold all the way to the East coast of America?

As she opened this one she was stunned again – with joy! Hearty cuts of eel completely covered the bed of rice with a delicious sauce drizzled on top. This particular type of eel called a conger eel (anago in Japanese) was especially tasty.


Not only was it good for a New York bento, but she made a note to order conger eel more often when back in Japan too.

The event ended on 22 March but it seemed like a lot of people came out to support it.  Hopefully more of these cross national station celebrations will be held in the future. Maybe someday there will be a USA Week in Tokyo Station with Burger Kings, Disney Stores, and 7-11’s…

Source: Sankei (Japanese)
Images: RocketNews24






















Photos RocketNews24