Drinks, food, and an important lesson for just 1,000 yen (US$9.19).

“Senbero” is a handy phrase that you probably won’t find in your Japanese textbook. It’s a combination of the words sen (one thousand) and berobero (drunk), meaning a drinking session that costs 1,000 yen (US$9.10) or less.

A proper drinking session in Japan should always include munchies too, with the end goal to be both buzzed and full. Because of that, senbero sessions usually take place at izakaya pubs that offer both drinks and small plates of food, but a lot of people are avoiding the close-quarters experience of Japan’s inexpensive izakaya these days. As always, our crack reporter Mr. Sato has a solution, and it’s to take your thousand yen to Lawson Store 100.

A sub-brand of the Lawson convenience store chain, pretty much everything inside Lawson Store 100 is priced at just 100 yen (US$0.91). Despite being very easy on the wallet, they have a surprisingly wide selection of not just pre-packaged snack foods, but all sorts of fried food, nimono (traditional-style simmered dishes), and other things to build a legitimate meal around.

First things first, though. Since this was a senbero shopping run, Mr. Sato headed to the store’s cooler section and grabbed some canned shochu sour cocktails. Believe it or not, these are priced at less than 100 yen, being just 97 yen before sales tax. Mr. Sato picked out a lemon sour and a ramune one, each rated at six-percent alcohol, enough to get himself comfortably buzzed but not sloppy drunk.

Then it was on to putting together his food spread. The three-pack of curry croquettes immediately won a space in his shopping basket, as did a pack of macaroni and vegetable salad.

Next up: a four-pack of inari (fried tofu) sushi, some mentaiko (spicy cod roe), ika shiokara (fermented squid), and a takuan (crunchy pickled radish) with plum and bonito seasonings.

Then a fillet of miso-simmered saba (mackerel), a five-piece variety of dashi stock-simmered oden, and since he still had some room in his budget because of the canned cocktails costing less than 100 yen, two umaibo puffed corn snack sticks, in mentaiko and cheese flavors, for just 10 yen each.

▼ They’re not the Cup Noodle-flavor Umaibo, but at that price, how could he say no?

Add it all up, and even after sales tax the total damage was just 1,078 yen (US$9.80).

▼ So really not very damaging at all

After some quick microwaving and plating, it was time for Mr. Sato to get this one-man senbero party started!

After a starting quaff of his lemon sour, Mr. Sato tried the curry croquettes, and was happy to learn that Lawson Store 100 isn’t kidding around with the name, as they have a strong, delicious, curry taste to them. The inari sushi were also moist and flavorful, not the bland, dried-out things you might expect from their price point. They were a bit on the small side, but that made them easy to pop into his mouth and eat in a single bite.

Potato salad is a standard old-school Japanese pub staple, but Mr. Sato was pleasantly surprised to discover that macaroni salad works just as well, and maybe even better if you’ve just scarfed down some croquettes like he had and don’t what to get potato-ed out.

Filled with joy as he polished off his first drink, Mr. Sato decided to try the takuan before cracking open his second sour. Since he was now reveling in his budget-priced decadence, he decided to grab it in both hands and bite right in.

▼ Ummm……Mr. Sato…?

▼ You OK over there?

It was no good. Not the flavor, that was fine. However, his plan of just chomping right through turned out to be a bad idea. Because of how crunchy takuan is, you’re supposed to slice it into smaller pieces, then eat them with chopsticks and grind them down with your molars as you chew on them. Trying to eat it like this is just going to tire out your jaw, and possibly mess up your teeth.

So in the end, yes, it’s entirely possible to put together a delicious and satisfying senbero spread at a 100-yen convenience store. If you’re craving takuan, though, you might want to earmark 100 yen in your budget for a kitchen knife, though.

Photos ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]