Join us on a pilgrimage to the mecca of Lunch Packs.

The Tokyo Summer Olympics was a controversial event, but one reason that made me happy it was held was that it helped spread the greatness of Lunch Packs to people from outside of Japan.

Lunch Packs are very simple by design. They’re simply packaged crustless sealed sandwiches available with all the standard fillings like egg salad, ham, butter, or jam, and quite a few not-so-standard fillings like Pizza Hut pizza and Baskin Robbins ice cream-flavored cream.

But for some reason, the makers at Yamazaki Baking took this basic concept and made it really delicious. At the risk of overusing a cliché, it really seems that in this case the secret ingredient is love, and as a result there are legions of fans or “Lunch Packers” in Japan, such as our writer Kouhey.

Like every good Lunch Packer should, Kouhey made the journey to Yamazaki Plaza Ichikawa, which is in Ichikawa City, Chiba Prefecture, where Yamazaki Baking was founded. Luckily, as far as pilgrimages go, the Lunch Packer’s journey is rather simple since Yamazaki Plaza Ichikawa is only a 30-second walk from the north exit of JR Ichikawa Station.

Inside the plaza is a dedicated Yamazaki store with a dining area and corner honoring the Lunch Pack in all its glory.

There was a booth set up that gave a lot of information about the Lunch Pack. For instance, did you know that the girl and boy on the packages are named Lunch-chan and Pack-kun?

A sign also highlighted all the regional varieties and had a huge selection of flavors. It was overwhelming for Kouhey, so he decided to ask the staff for advice.

In a truly auspicious sign, the clerk was named “Yamazaki” and he instructed our writer about the five best selling flavors of Lunch Pack as of the end of February, 2022. True to his name, Yamazaki was very knowledgeable about sandwiches, and quickly selected the five most popular Lunch Packs for Kouhey to try.

Coming in at fifth place was White Chocolate / Chocolate Bar & Whipped Cream. Lunch Packs always come in packs of two sandwiches, so it’s not uncommon to get two complementing flavors in a single package.

Our Lunch Packer took out the Chocolate Bar & Whipped Cream sandwich first and broke it in half. Baked goods with bars of hard chocolate inside are a bit of a craze in Japan at the moment, and it looks like they are selling well in Lunch Pack form as well.

Kouhey thought the sweet mixture of hard, creamy, and fluffy textures all together was very enjoyable. The White Chocolate cream filling was also delicious, but our writer was left feeling slightly underwhelmed. Ultimately it was nothing especially new, and comparable to other sweet Lunch Packs.

The fourth place Lunch Pack was Pork Stewed in Red Wine. It looked like things were about to get a lot more original with this one and Kouhey was excited to try it out.

This flavor is a collaboration with the Shonan Pork Olive Premium brand of meat from Fujisawa City, Kanagawa Prefecture. In addition to the meat, which has been infused with red wine, these Lunch Packs are stuffed with bits of potato.

After tasting it, Kouhey was already set to call off the entire ranking, because a clear winner had been found. The fillings would have been exquisite on their own, but with the fresh bread they were incredibly delicious. Even as a seasoned Lunch Packer, he was wondering if this was the best one he’d ever eaten.

The third-best selling one was also a double-flavour: Fiantine Chocolat / Crème de Fromage. We already saw that Lunch Pack is not afraid to get fancy, but they’ve outdone themselves once again with this flavor.

Fiantine are bits of crispy crepe pastry that can be used as topping or fillings for cakes and other desserts. In this case they are added to some chocolate-praline cream and placed in between two fluffy sheets of white bread.

The Crème de Fromage was a mixture of custard and cream cheese. These two flavors were crafted by master pastry chef Hironobu Tsujiguchi and had a very complex sweetness. They were very good and a welcome change of pace from mere chocolate and custard varieties.

The second most popular flavor of Lunch Pack was yet again a combo, with Thick Breaded Ground Meat Patty / Bacon & Egg. This combination, however, is intended more as a sampler, because the meat sandwich can also be bought on its own.

The Thick Breaded Ground Meat Patty is a classic, and Kouhey had it many times before on its own. However, in light of the ranking, he took some time to appreciate how densely stuffed all the fillings are in this one.

Although Bacon & Egg is a classic sandwich filling in its own right, it surprisingly can’t be bought as a stand-alone Lunch Pack. The only other way to get it is through the “3 Types of Deliciousness” pack where it’s bundled in with Curry and Coleslaw flavors.

Because of that, Kouhey had also had the Bacon & Egg before, but he’s always impressed with how fresh and fluffy the eggs taste in this pre-packaged sandwich.

This brings us to the number one best-selling Lunch Pack in Japan: Peko Poko Chocolate!

These sandwiches are filled with whipped cream and hard pieces of chocolate. This might sound very familiar, but in this case the chocolate is from the popular Fujiya brand of candy, represented by Peko-chan.

If you look closely at the chocolate you can probably make out pink and white bits too. That’s because Peko Poko Chocolates are shaped like the faces of mascots Peko-chan and Poko-chan. Unfortunately we can’t show you that clearly because they were covered in cream and stuck in a sandwich, but their shapes are also printed on the package above, inside the big heart.

This flavor likely got a boost not only because of the current chocolate-bar-in-bread trend, but because of Valentine’s Day in Japan, when gifts of chocolate are common. However, it was also likely number one thanks to the beloved taste of Peko-chan chocolate.

Speaking for himself, Kouhey would still say that the Pork Stewed in Red Wine was the best of the bunch, but really they were all winners. After all, what makes Lunch Pack great is that they can do no wrong, and even in the extremely rare case where they actually make a slight mistake, they are amazingly quick to set things right.

▼ The Lunch Pack area also highlights the new flavors of the current month

So, all the Lunch Packers out there should make a note of Yamazaki Plaza Ichikawa. According to Yamazaki (the clerk not the company), the top five can fluctuate on an almost daily basis, so any time you visit and check them out is sure to be a new experience.

Store information
Yamazaki Plaza Ichikawa / ヤマザキプラザ市川
Chiba-ken, Ichikawa-shi, Ichikawa 1-9-2 Sun Plaza 35 Bldg. 1F
千葉県市川市市川1-9-2 サンプラザ35ビル1F
Open: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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