Nitamago are an overlooked treasure of Japanese convenience stores, but which is the right one for you?

From the moment you set foot inside a Japanese convenience store, you’ve got all sorts of tasty things grabbing your attention, like seasonal sweets and freshly cooked Final Fantasy fried chicken. But while those flashy temptations are definitely ones you won’t regret giving in to, you’ll also be rewarded if you remember to save room for eggs.

Specifically, it’s nitamago, sometimes called “ramen eggs” that we’re talking about. Stewed in a variety of seasonings such as sweet cooking sake, soy sauce, and bonito stock, these are a popular add-on to a bowl of ramen, but honestly they’re delicious any way you choose to eat them, even all by themselves, and you can find them in just about any Japanese convenience store.

But this got our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa wondering: Which Japanese convenience store has the best nitamago? This was a question that needed answering, and so Seiji bravely threw away any shred of concern for his own cholesterol levels and dashed out the door, headed to the closest branches of 7-Eleven, Family Mart, and Lawson, for a three-way store-brand nitamago championship fight.

▼ Left to right: Family Mart, 7-Eleven, and Lawson

The three contenders are
● Family Mart’s Torori Yawaraka Hanjuku Nitamago (Creamy Soft Soft-boiled Nitamago)
● 7-Eleven’s Torotto Rano Hanjuku Nitamago (Creamy Yolk Soft-boiled Nitamago)
● Lawson’s Nitamago Niko-iri (Nitamago 2-Egg Pack)

Family Mart’s nitamago are the most expensive at 165 yen (US$1.51), but with 7-Eleven’s and Lawson’s at 162 and 158 yen, respectively, the price difference in negligible, and they’re all extremely easy on the wallet. Size-wise, they’re all pretty much the same, too, so this would be a contest decided purely by which tasted the best.

Let’s see where they ended up.

3. Lawson

Coming in in third place is Lawson…though maybe we should call it “third place*,” with an asterisk. See, Seiji, like the majority of Japanese foodies, likes his nitamago with a soft, creamy center. However, there exists a faction of nitamago fans who find such textures unappealingly runny, and that seems to be who Lawson is targeting with their nitamago. To their credit, they’re upfront about this, as Lawson’s is the only nitamago out of the three that doesn’t call itself “soft-boiled” in its official product name.

Seiji recognizes the Lawson eggs’ right to exist, and he’s sure that some people love them, but he himself has no room in his heart for their solid centers.

2. Family Mart

The difference between the Lawson and Family Mart nitamago is like night and day, or, more accurately, land and sea. THIS is the sort of texture Seiji was looking for, with a golden, gooey yolk. Put this in your ramen, and it’s going to mix beautifully with the broth, and popping it as is into your mouth will give you a liquidy delight once you take a bite.

And yet…

1. 7-Eleven

7-Eleven’s nitamago is even better. With the Family Mart eggs, there’s just a touch of dry fluffiness to their outer layers. 7-Eleven’s, though, are moist all over and all the way through to the other side, and every single bite coats your tongue in deliciousness.

There’s also a flavor difference between them. Family Mart’s have stronger mirin (sweet cooking sake) notes, for a softer, gentler taste, and they remind him of the nitamago his mom used to make. On the other hand, 7-Eleven goes for bolder flavors by letting the soy sauce and bonito stock play bigger roles.

In closing we should remind everyone that these rankings are purely the personal feelings of Seiji, and he can be a pretty weird guy.


Even third place is still on the podium, so really there’s no bad choice here.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]