And because it’s a Japanese convenience store, our list has everything from desserts to fish.

We’re pretty much always plotting what to get on our next Japanese convenience store run, but especially so on July 11, or 7-11, when we can’t stop thinking about 7-Eleven. Although 7-Eleven Day isn’t an official holiday (at least not yet), we decided to celebrate it anyway by asking several SoraNews24’s most combini-savvy reporters for their recommendations for delicious 7-Elven Japan items that might be flying under other shoppers’ radars, and they came back with the following list of seven items that could use more love, because it’s not possible for our reporters to love them any more than they already do.

1. Kusamochi (140 yen [US$1.04]) – Recommended by Go Hatori

Kusamochi is a kind of rice flower dumpling made with yomogi (mugwort), which gives its flavor a sophisticated herbal underpinning that compliments the Hokkaido-grown sweet red bean filling 7-Eleven uses. Go is a big fan of yomogi sweets, regularly sampling the ones from all the major supermarket and convenience store chains, but 7-Eleven’s remains the best and most flavorful one out there in his opinion. Plus, at just 128 calories, Go doesn’t have to feel that guilty when he munches on one of these sweet treats at breakfast time.

2. Mackerel with grated radish and ponzu (268 yen) – Recommended by Mr. Sato

Going from something that’s “healthy for sweets” to just plain “healthy,” Mr. Sato is deeply fond of this mackerel (or “saba,” to use the Japanese name for the fish) dish in summer. When the heat and humidity are sapping his appetite, but he knows he still needs to get some protein and other nutrients, this is a quick and tasty fix that won’t leave him feeling sluggish or bloated, and the citrussy ponzu seasoning has a revitalizing effect on a sweltering summer day.

3. Canned simmered mackerel (192 yen) – Recommended by Seiji Nakazawa

Coming to our second saba selection, canned mackerel has been surging in popularity in recent years in Japan, with singles and families alike discovering that keeping a stock of them in your kitchen cabinet makes for a healthy and satisfying centerpiece to pair with white rice and a quick side dish or two such as a salad or bowl of miso soup.

Similar to Go’s thorough taste-testing of yomogi sweets, Seiji has eaten canned mackerel from a number of different companies, but 7-Eleven’s, which uses mackerel caught off the coast of Japan’s Seto Inland Sea, is far and away the best, he says. Other brands’ fish can sometimes be dry and flakey, but 7-Eleven’s is meaty and juicy, and in all the years he’s been buying it, the chain has never given him a can with poor-quality fish inside.

4. Salt-grilled mackerel (321 yen) – Recommended by Takashi Harada

Our third, and final, mackerel recommendation comes from Takashi, whose go-to pick is a straight-up grilled mackerel filet. Just peel back the corner of the soft-plastic lid, stick it in the microwave for 50 seconds, and it’s ready to eat. This is especially handy if you live in a tiny one-room Japanese apartment and can’t grill fish on the stove without transferring the smell to your clothing and bedsheets, and it’s also a life-saver if you have a job where you work late and can’t make it to the grocery store before the day’s seafood sells out.

5. Cheddar cheese buns (205 yen) – Recommended by P.K. Sanjun

7-Eleven also calls these “pon de queso,” but regardless of the name you get three buns to a pack. These are actually part of a whole mini-bread family of 7-Eleven products, but according to P.K. the cheese version is “the king of mini breads.” However, he adds that it also demands the royal treatment of toasting before eating, so he says to put in in your toaster oven until the outer layer is just about to singe. That’ll give the inside a super-soft, almost melty texture, and it’s exactly what P.K. likes to scarf down for breakfast.

6. Moko Tanmen Nakamoto Spicy Miso (216 yen) – Recommended by Ahiru Neko

Hey, you can’t go to the convenience store and not grab some instant ramen while you’re there, right? Oddly enough, Ahiru Neko isn’t ordinarily a big fan of spicy food, but this is an exception, as the collaboration between 7-Eleven and fiery Tokyo-based ramen chain Moko Tanmen Nakamoto is a cup of noodles that he keeps going back to again and again.

7. Now River Rich Caramel (192 yen) – Recommended by Mariko Ohanabatake

At the end of out seven-stop 7-Eleven recommendation list we don’t just have a dessert, but also an edible pun. There’s a type of traditional Japanese sweet called imagawayaki, thought to be named after the Imagawabashi section of Tokyo, where it was first sold during the feudal era. Imagawa is a fairly common family name, but if you take the kanji it’s written with, 今川, they translate literally as “now river,” which seems to be where 7-Eleven got the name for its brand of imagawayaki.

The traditional filling for imagawayaki is sweet red bean paste, but New River isn’t afraid to try new things, so these castella cake discs are filled with caramel sauce instead. They’re sold frozen, and while 20 seconds in the microwave will get one completely warmed up, you can also cut the process short at 10 seconds for a chilled version instead, which is Mariko’s preferred style in midsummer.

The New Rivers also come three to a pack, giving you the option to share them with friends or indulge in all by yourself, whichever you feel is more in keeping with the true spirit of 7-Eleven Day.

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 ]