New range of Japanese dishes, ready in less time than it takes to make instant ramen!

In the rice ball section of most Japanese convenience stores at the moment, you can find a cup product called ” Mitsuboshi Cup Shokudo” (“Mitsuboshi Cup Cafeteria”). The range covers popular dishes such as motsunabe (offal hotpot stew), stewed beef tendon, simmered potatoes, oden, and, as we discovered this week, braised pork.

▼ The motsunabe (“もつ鍋”) is done in a Hakata-style, which contains beef innards.

What makes this range notable is the fact that they’re ready to eat in 90 seconds or less, depending on the wattage of the microwave. Plus, they also have a shelf life of three months, so you can store them at room temperature as emergency rations in case of a disaster.

▼ Our reporter Masanuki Sunakoma wasn’t going to wait that long to try this one, though, as the simmered pork variety was just released on 4 July, and he was keen to taste it.

Following the instructions on the pack, Masanuki set his 600-watt microwave to do its thing for 80 seconds, and the time seemed to go by in an instant.

This was a super fast way to eat a meal, and at 90 seconds max, it was faster than preparing an instant Cup Noodle. While you can eat it straight from the cup, to save time washing up, Masanuki decided to empty the contents into a bowl for this first tasting, to get a good look at all the ingredients.

▼ Not just pork, but radish and quail eggs were in the mix too.

With countertop oden displays being abolished from Japanese convenience stores since the start of the pandemic, Masanuki has missed grabbing a quick collection of ready-to-eat stewed items to eat at home. It’s a gap in the market that Mitsuboshi has swooped in on, giving us similar warming dishes, but in the style of a convenient instant cup instead.

▼ Cup stews like this are arguably better than convenience store oden, seeing as you can make them at home and rest easy knowing the ingredients haven’t been out in the open all day.

While it looked delicious, Masanuki wasn’t quite sure if a meal made this quick would pass the taste test. There was only one way to find out, though, so he lifted out the star ingredient for a taste.

The pork melted in the mouth, leaving him with a rich and satisfying aftertaste that surprised him with its deliciousness. Taking a look at the pack, Masanuki found that the soy sauce base had been enhanced with the umami of domestically produced bonito flakes, and the whole thing had been stewed with a hint of ginger, giving it a deep complexity that made it taste like a high-quality meal.

▼ Great value for 470 yen (US$3.23).

The daikon radish and quail eggs had been well soaked in the umami of the pork-and-sauce mix, giving them a good colour and flavour. It really tasted as good as it looked, and the exquisite depth of flavour was irresistible, leaving Masanuki craving more.

The meal was so good he wondered if he should stock up on more of them as emergency rations. However, there’s no way he could leave them in his kitchen for long without devouring them all in a matter of days.

While the braised pork can be enjoyed on its own, or as a side dish with rice, Masanuki felt it would be the perfect partner for Japanese sake. Preferably a warm one, in winter, so now he’s got his meals sorted for the colder days!

Related: Mitsuboshi Cup Cafeteria
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