We taste-test the unusual innovation.

For the most part, Japanese cuisine is pretty light in fat and oil, especially compared to some Western cooking traditions where fried foods and heavy, creamy sauces are staples of the daily diet. However, this means that when people in Japan do find themselves craving fatty foods, some of them crave really fatty foods, which brings us to today’s taste test.

Discount retailer Don Quijote is a store that’s sort of hard to define, since the chain sells just about, well, everything. Looking for clothing? Toiletries? Household electronics? Don Quijote deals in all of those things. At some of their larger branches, they even sell their own store-brand bento boxed lunches, and the latest addition to the lineup is the Fried Chicken no Kawa Dake Bento, or…

“Bento with Fried Chicken Skin Only”

Since every bento needs rice, there’s rice in the box too, but that and fried chicken skin really are the only two things included.

We should mention here that chicken skin is, in certain situations, viewed as a food in and of itself in Japan. At just about any yakitori (grilled chicken skewer) restaurant or stand you can order a stick of “kawa,” literally “skin.” However, even among Japanese people kawa yakitori is sort of a love-it-or-hate-it menu option, and it’s usually something eaten along with a greater number of skewers of actual chicken meat.

So an all-chicken skin bento is a bold choice, but also one that’s grabbed people’s attention in Japan, including that of our Japanese-language reporter P.K. Sanjun, who headed out to his local Don Quijote to pick one up for 538 yen (US$3.35).

Holding it in his hand, P.K. was surprised at how light it was, since the skins are less dense than a corresponding amount of meat would be.

Grabbing a mouthful of chicken skin with his chopsticks, P.K. took his first bite, and it tasted pretty good! In order to provide the best possible flavor, Don Quijote doesn’t just peel the skin off of pieces of already-cooked fried chicken. Instead, chicken skins themselves are directly seasoned and fried, which helps keep the Bento with Fried Chicken Skin Only from feeling like a plate of table scraps.

However, remember how we said the Bento with Fried Chicken Skin Only felt light when P.K. held it in his hand? Once it was in his stomach, it felt incredibly heavy. Making an entire meal out of fried chicken skin is every bit as oily as it sounds, and by his second bite, P.K. could already feel some heartburn coming on.

And yet, we can’t really call the Bento with Fried Chicken Skin Only a bad bento. All of its potential upsides and downsides are entirely keeping with what you’d expect from the product’s name. It’s not for everybody, but even Don Quijote itself is fully aware of that, releasing it under their Henai Meshi line, which translates loosely to “peculiar preference food.” Don Quijote’s self-stated goal for the line is to offer meals “that most people would give 75 points out of 100, but that some people will give 120.” The Bento with Fried Chicken Skin Only definitely fits that description, but if you’re in the mood for a whole bunch of chicken skin, and you think your body can handle it, Don Quijote’s got that particular fix ready and waiting.

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