Japan sets the bar for convenience store excellence pretty high, but this one clears it with ease.

Before you read any further, take a moment to admire that perfect piece of salmon sushi pictured above. With its gorgeous color, clean cut, and solidly shaped base of vinegared rice, it’s pretty much everything you could ask for in a morsel of Japan’s signature cuisine.

We didn’t get this sushi at a fancy restaurant with a months-long waiting list for tables, though. Nor did we get it at one Japan’s casual revolving sushi joints. Nope, instead we procured it at…

Seico Mart, a humble chain convenience store.

Even if you’re an experienced traveler in Japan, you might not be familiar with Seico Mart. That’s because the chain primarily serves the northern island of Hokkaido, but its geographic focus isn’t the only thing that sets Seico Mart apart from its rivals. See, in most Japanese convenience stores, a lot of the bento boxed lunches, sandwiches, and other prepared foods on offer are made at central cooking facilities, then shipped to individual branches. Seico Mart, though, prepares a lot of its cooked foods in-store, and at one branch in Sapporo, they even make their own sushi on-site.

As lovers of tasty food and lazy lifestyle-enabling convenience, we had to try this for ourselves, so we made the way to Seico Mart’s Minami Hachio branch in Sapporo, and headed for the back of the store…

…where we found the sushi counter.

There’s an impressive amount of variety to the sushi lineup. On the day we stopped by, the staff had prepared almost a dozen different types, including standard nigiri pieces, both hosomaki (thin rolls) and futomaki (thick rolls), and even rice bowls made with vinegared rice and topped with sashimi.

We grabbed as much as we figured we could fit in our stomach, paid at the register, and made our way over to the shop’s eat-in corner, which has tables and chairs for customers to use.

We started off with some flounder nigiri (380 yen [US$3.50]), which was rich ad flavorful. The rice was also perfect, with just the right amount of vinegar and moisture, completely sidestepping the quality problems of cheap, dry sushi rice that mars the experience from some budget-priced sushi providers.

The salmon was similarly delicious, and came as part of a 400-yen combo pack with inarizushi (sushi rice wrapped in fried tofu) and natto maki (fermented soybean rolls).

For our thick-roll representative, we opted for the 450-yen kaisen (mixed seafood) futomaki, and found the stars of the team to be the ikura and tobikko (salmon roe and flying fish roe), which had enticingly firm textures.

And last, the 720-yen kani chirashi (mixed seafood sushi with crab) was a luxurious capstone to our convenience store dinner, with deliciously mist crab meat, salmon, and more ikura.

While there’s only one Seico Mart that makes its own sushi, luckily the branch is located in Sapporo, Hokkaido’s capital and a city that almost all visitors to the prefecture pass through. Even if you can’t make it to this particular branch, though, you can take heart in knowing that Seico Mart’s legendarily affordable 100-yen pasta is available at all of its locations.

Shop information
Seico Mart (Minami Hachijo branch) / セイコーマート(南8条店)
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo-shi, Chuo-ku, Minami 8-jo Nishi 4-chome 422-banchi 5, Grand Park Building
Open 24 hours

Photos ©SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he also highly recommends Seico Mart’s baked-in-store chocolate chip cookies.

[ Read in Japanese ]