The stakes have been raised, and the quest for the best senbero may never be the same…

Previously on Japan’s Best Home Senbero: Mr. Sato had elevated to Senbero King and used the power of grilled rice paper to mend ties with his estranged co-worker Masanuki.

For a time there was peace in the office, and our king celebrated with a new tool to aid in his pursuit of the perfect set of alcohol and food that costs about 1,000 yen (US$9), called a “senbero” (“1,000-yen drunk”) in Japanese.

Mr. Sato: “Yay!”

Earlier this year we reported on the development of a Senbero Maker appliance designed to recreate the izakaya senbero experience at home. It was only fitting that our Senbero King also acquire one for his never-ending quest.

Mr. Sato had already selected major convenience store chain 7-Eleven as his next senbero destination before returning to the office and slipping into his royal Zozosuit.

For his beverage, he went with a convenience store standard in the Ozeki One Cup Jumbo sake for 221 yen (US$1.97).

And to break in his Senbero Maker, he got a pack of 7 Premium Oden for 198 yen ($1.77).

To add a little meat to the affair, he also spent 98 yen ($0.88) on a pack of 7 Premium Bacon.

French fries always make for a great senbero, so he got a pack of those too for 128 yen ($1.14).

This all was surprisingly light on his budget so Mr. Sato loaded up on some more food with a pack of 7 Premium Cut Vegetables with Meat for 100 yen ($0.89).

Some fried gyoza would be a great way to recreate the authentic izakaya senbero feel, so he grabbed a pack of those for 100 yen ($0.89).

And this pack of 7 Premium Sanuki Udon for just 98 yen ($0.88) would make the perfect topper for his senbero.

It was almost poetic that this 7-Eleven senbero consisted of seven items in total. It all only cost him 1,022 yen ($9.13) after tax.

With everything set, it was time to fire up the Senbero Maker and take it on its maiden voyage.

Senbero King Sato decided to christen it with a strip of bacon.

While that was heating up, he popped the gyoza into the microwave.

Then, he did the same for the fries.

By the time that was all done, all of his bacon strips were nicely browned too. This was already turning into a surprisingly well-organized senbero for Mr. Sato.

He neatly arranged his gyoza onto a serving dish.

For the fries, however, he first added some salt to the bag.

Then he proceeded to shake it up for a nice even seasoning.

A really nice even seasoning.

Mr. Sato: “SEASON, DAMN YOU!!!”

He then put his nicely, evenly seasoned fries into a bowl.

He still had some more food to make, but things were going so well he decided to treat himself with a sneaky pinch of salt.


Mr. Sato: “Ohhh, that’s good.”

Alright, enough lollygagging and get back to work! Mr. Sato pulled out the Senbero Maker’s dedicated pan for stewing oden and put the 7 Premium pack inside.

All the greatest hits were there, like a hardboiled egg, daikon puck, fried tofu, and more.

This was good enough to get started, so Mr. Sato pulled out his One Cup and cracked it open.

It had been a long time since he drank one and he stared at it like an old friend, showing us all why old friends usually don’t hang around him much.

It was every bit as good as he remembered, and a perfect way to kick off this senbero.

First he tried a gyoza, but since it was microwaved, the skin didn’t have that crisp texture you’d get from an izakaya. Still, for 138 yen it was good.

And even better when followed by some sake.

Next was some bacon. Since he made it first, it had gotten cold during all that excessive shaking of fries, but it wasn’t bad.

And even better when followed by some sake.

Speaking of the fries, they were also microwaved and came out pretty soggy. In hindsight, they probably would have come out better if he fried them in a pan.

But they, too, were even better when followed by some sake.

By this time, his oden pot came to a boil and he decided to strike while the stew was hot. First, Mr. Sato did what so many people had told him to go and do in the past and sucked on an egg.

Mr. Sato: “Argh!!! Hot!!! Hot, hot! Can’t chew…”

It was a little too impulsive on the part of our Senbero King, but there’s no better cure for impulsive behavior than more alcohol.

Drinking a One Cup cold is great, but our reporter decided to make full use of the Senbero Maker by also using it to heat some up in a tokkuri.

This way Mr. Sato could really feel like he was sitting in an izakaya spouting drunken opinions to whoever would listen.

Mr. Sato: “You see… The problem with kids today… is… they have no AM radio!”

Mr. Sato: “In my day we had to wait for our favorite songs to come on AM radio and put them on cassettes! CASSETTES I tell ya!!!”

Mr. Sato: “It taught us valuable editing skills and sh… Oh, look what we have here!”

Mr. Sato: “Some warm sake and gyoza? Don’t mind if I doooo♫”

Mr. Sato: “Ohhhh yeah! That’s the stuff, right there.”

We still weren’t done, however, because there was still some udon to make to bring this senbero to its climax.

Mr. Sato quickly donned his udon cooking headband.

A lot of people don’t know this, but one thing they teach you before getting Senbero Meister certification is that to cook udon noodles properly, the way you put it into the boiling water is important.

Timing and focus is crucial in bringing out its maximum flavor.

And this level of focus can only be achieved when you’re half a bottle into your senbero.

Ahhhh, entry was a success and Mr. Sato savored the aroma of his noodles cooking. It smelled like victory.

And what’s this?! Oh, Mr. Sato, you clever dog, you! As we can see, he’s using the leftover broth from his oden to hold the noodles.

And now he’s using the pack of meat and vegetables as toppings! Mr. Sato, you truly are a Senbero King among Senbero Men.

And that was it. Aside from slightly burning his tongue on an egg, this was a flawlessly executed senbero.

Yes, there was nothing left for our expert to do but return to his workstation and savor the remaining moments of this wonderful experience.

The udon was fabulous.

And the sake just seemed to get better with age.

However, as Mr. Sato settled in to read his favorite website, a strange feeling started to creep in…

He couldn’t quite put his finger on it at first, but when he took another sip of sake it suddenly dawned on him.

The 7 Premium Udon that he had bought had two bags of noodles, but Mr. Sato cooked only one. So, where was the other bag?!

This all seemed vaguely familiar to our drunken reporter. It was just like the time his bag of curry disappeared, and it turned out that his nemesis Masanuki had stolen it to drink for himself.

Could Masanuki have stolen the noodles for himself to drink again?

No… That’s impossible. Mr. Sato had taught him the ways of the senbero last time they met. Masanuki would know at this point that drinking uncooked food was in violation of the Senbero Code.

Still, Senbero King thought he should text Masanuki – just to ask.

Mr. Sato: “Oh Masanuuuuuuki! You happen to know anything about my udon?”

There was no reply, but the “read” indicator immediately popped up. Masanuki was clearly reading Mr. Sato’s inquiry but deliberately ignoring him. He tried calling him on a video chat, but there was still no answer.

Mr. Sato: “Hello?”

Despite the lack of response, the “read” indicator always instantly went up, mocking our Senbero King.

Mr. Sato: “Damnit. He’s ghosting me!”

Mr. Sato: “I’m just going to keep calling until you pick up.”

Mr. Sato: “Oh! He answered! Masanuki! Hello! Can you hear…um…”

Mr. Sato: “You’re kind of close. Mind pulling the phone back a bit?”

Mr. Sato: “That’s better. So, uh hey, what’s going on, my man?”
Masanuki: “…”

Mr. Sato: “Wait! What are you doing? Oh no…”

Mr. Sato: “Masanuki, you can’t do this on your own! You haven’t complete your senbero training! You’re not ready!!!”

Mr. Sato: “Ohhhh…”

Mr. Sato: “They grow up so fast.”

Will Masanuki be able to control his wild impulses and follow Mr. Sato’s path to become a disciplined Senbero Master, or will he give in to his urges and turn to the dark side of the senbero? Find out next time on Japan’s Best Home Senbero!

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