We put 7-Eleven, Family Mart and Lawson to the test in this battle between runny eggs. 

If you’ve ever visited an onsen town in Japan, you may have seen small stone basins fed by natural hot springs with whole eggs in baskets or nets floating inside them.

Image: Pakutaso

This is what’s known as “onsen tamago” (“hot spring eggs“), where the water naturally poaches the eggs while they’re still inside the shell, giving you a silky smooth, runny egg when you crack into it. It’s such a beloved delicacy in Japan that you can easily find onsen tamago outside of onsen towns, and even at convenience stores nationwide.

While these eggs might not be cooked the traditional way in natural hot springs, they are cooked to a similar low temperature that results in the same runny texture. So if you’re looking to get a taste of an onsen egg conveniently at a convenience store, which one should you go to?

To help you out with that mission, we purchased onsen tamago from the three top convenience store chains in Japan — Lawson, Family Mart and 7-Eleven — so join as we crack into them to see what they look like inside!

First, let’s take a look at the prices — Lawson’s onsen tamago is the most expensive of the lot, at 117 yen (US$0.78), followed by Family Mart’s at 110 yen, and 7-Eleven’s, at 105 yen.

Interestingly, Family Mart’s egg (below) came with a sachet of bonito stock, which was a surprise, as they don’t usually come with extra additions.

Sliding all the eggs onto individual plates, we were happy to find that all three slipped out easily, but in terms of appearance, Lawson’s egg looked a little different.

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

While the other two eggs retained their plump shapes, with the whites still clinging to the yolks, Lawson’s appeared to have such a high liquid content that it looked like it was about to break under its own weight.

This was a good sign, because for many onsen tamago lovers, the runnier the egg the better, and these so-called ‘drinkable’ types of onsen egg are often served for breakfast in Japanese hotels.

▼ The truth would be in the breaking, though, so we took a pair of chopsticks and gently poked into them.

With the yolks now revealed, we really couldn’t see much of a difference between them.

We thought at least one might look a little firmer than another, but they were all jiggly and silky smooth, with similar runny textures.

That meant we would have to search harder to find a winner, and to do that, we looked at the fine print on all the packs, which revealed they were all manufactured by different companies. Family Mart’s was jointly developed with Itochu Feed, Lawson’s was manufactured by Tamago Factory, and 7-Eleven’s was made by Isedelica. Out of these, the latter two are companies that specialise in egg products.

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

To find out whether the egg specialists would make a better runny egg, we kept that in mind while we tasted them.

The Lawson egg (above) pushed the boundaries between loose and liquid to such an extent that it was almost like eating a raw egg. It seemed unashamedly proud to take things to runny extremes, so if that’s how you like your eggs, this’ll definitely put a smile on your dial.

On the other hand, the eggs from Family Mart and 7-Eleven seemed to prioritise viscosity over runniness, finding a good balance between the two that helped to accentuate the flavour of the yolk.

Both these eggs were as good as each other, but if you’re counting coins, the 7-Eleven variety wins for value for money. However, if you’re willing to spend a little more and want some added flavour with the bonito stock, you won’t go wrong with the Family Mart version.

However, for us, the Lawson variety was the ultimate winner, with the extremely runny texture giving it a unique flavour that onsen egg lovers will fall in love with. That being said, though, you won’t be disappointed with any of these eggs, so feel free to give them a try next time you’re feeling peckish. It’s a lot easier than making them yourself in an electric steamer!

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