Mega clams turn out to be mega, in more ways than one. 

Our Japanese-language reporter Kohei is addicted to hard clams. The impetus for his newfound devotion was a bowl of clam chowder he’d recently eaten, which turned out to be the best thing he’s ever tasted, and ever since then he’s been seeking out hard clams wherever he goes.

So you can imagine his delight when he heard about a vending machine selling his beloved shellfish 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What’s more, it was located in his hometown of Funabashi City in Tokyo’s neighbouring Chiba Prefecture, so he wasted no time in paying it a visit to try out its wares.

▼ The vending machine is a 10-minute walk from Daijingushita Station, standing quietly in a sparsely populated port town along the river.

The vending machine is operated by Kanehachi Fisheries, which runs its business from the building where the machine sits, although its shutters were closed on the Saturday when Kohei visited.

Kohei could hardly contain his excitement when he peered into the window of the machine. He could see not just one type of hard clam, but a variety, categorised into different sizes. Plus, there were Weiner sausages made with clams, clams preserved in soy, and insulated cooler bags to carry your products home in.

After deliberating over his options, Kohei decided to purchase the two “mega size” clams for 400 yen (US$3.61). He’d never cooked clams at home before, so he figured their generous size would make cooking a little easier for him.

He fed his coins into the slot, and the machine delivered his mega-sized hard clams, which tumbled out into the tray below with a thunk much louder than a canned drink.

When he picked his purchase up out of the tray he let out a gasp at its mighty size. These clams were big…and heavy!

With a width of nearly 10 centimetres (3.9 inches) across, these certainly were mega clams, and Kohei could almost taste their plump meat just by looking at them.

He rushed home and snapped a few pics of them next to his iPhone 7 to help give you a true idea of their massive size.

Clams this big deserved to be barbecued on a grill, but after looking around in his kitchen cupboards, Kohei realised he didn’t have a mesh grill to barbecue them on. So he decided to go ahead with plan B – heating them up in a frying pan.

Kohei cooked the clams on medium heat for about 15 minutes. The shellfish gradually began to change colour and open, eventually spilling their juices out into the pan.

▼ Now they were ready to eat!

The clams had opened beautifully, and there seemed to be little difference between pan-frying and grilling them in the end, which Kohei was relieved about. He decided to keep the seasoning on these nice and simple, so he splashed a tiny bit of soy sauce on each of them before getting his chopsticks out for the taste test.

▼ The flesh was plump and meaty, and the taste was…

absolutely delicious! The clam melted in his mouth with a surprising freshness that proved this was a high-quality shellfish. The only complaint he had was the fact that it was a bit tough trying to extract the meat from the shell, but that was likely due to a particularly stubborn abductor muscle.

It was his first time eating home-cooked clams, so that could’ve been part of the reason for the tough extraction as well. It was hardly a complaint, though — more of a first-timer observation, because after polishing off his second clam, Kohei was in seashell heaven, and suitably impressed with the level of flavour he could achieve with just 15 minutes and his humble frying pan.

Next time, Kohei plans to enjoy these with butter and lemon, which will no doubt fuel his addiction all over again. The mega clams ended up surprising Kohei with their mega quality and taste, and he now plans to try everything else in the machine too, before trying his luck at another shellfish vending machine in Japan.

Vending machine information
Kanehachi Fisheries / かねはち水産
Address: Chiba-ku, Funabashi-shi, Minatocho 1-12-12
千葉区船橋市湊町 1-12-12

Photos ©SoraNews24
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