Top 6 Lawson Snacks

If you’ve ever stopped at a convenient store in Japan, you’ll know that all stores stand true to their name—they are truly convenient. From stocking daily essentials like shampoo, stationery, pre-packaged meals and fresh produce, these small establishments also offer services like package drop-offs, a copy and print station, and you can even pay your taxes. It’s an essential component to everyday life, whether you’re a student, office worker or housewife, you’ll find yourself popping into one sooner or later. On our visit back home, we decided to take a trip down memory lane and grab some snacks we enjoyed over the years from one of our favorite convenient stores, Lawson.

CHOCOBALL (チョコボール)
Choco Balls are a classic chocolate snack that have been around since the 1960s. Flavors range from peanut covered chocolate to strawberry and caramel. Our favorite is the original peanut!

KINOKO NO YAMA (大人のきのこ山)
Also a childhood favorite, the original Mushroom Mountain features a crispy biscuit stem and a creamy milk chocolate cap. Recently, Meiji released a “grown up” version with dark chocolate caps. Both are equally delicious!

CHOCO-MONAKA JUMBO (チョコモナカジャンボ)
A perfect treat for those hot summer days, the Choco Monaka Jumbo is a large-sized ice cream that comes in the shape of a classic chocolate bar. Outside is a delightfully light and crispy layer, with an inside that features velvety vanilla ice cream and a single sheet of chocolate.

KAKI NO TANE (柿の種)
We love this snack called The Persimmon Seed for its salty peanuts, crispy rice treats and savory and also spicy qualities. The snack is packed into individual plastic sacks so you can bring them around with you on the go.

RICE-BALLS (おにぎり)
Rice balls are the quintessential snack. Nowadays the market has come out with more gourmet versions with fancy ingredients, but the classic triangle-shaped ones with crispy nori seaweed will always be our favorite. Salmon, kelp, and tuna mayo are some of our go-to flavors!

HOT CAKE SANDWICH (ホットケーキ: バター広がるホットケーキメープル&発酵バター入りホイップ)*
They might not look like much but when you take one bite of these fluffy pancake sandwiches, you’ll understand why they made it on our list! Slathered between two round hot cakes (pancakes) are salted butter and sweet syrup. We recommend heating yours up a few seconds in the microwave.
*Originally recommended by Keith Abrams from Kinfolk.

Naomi: The fried chicken baskets by the register also get an honorable mention. We used to eat them as an after school snack, they are surprisingly crispy.

Happy Pudding Mahakara

Depending on where you’re from, pudding can be a savory dish or a sweet dish, a velvety smooth custard or a rice-based chunky concoction. Pudding, specifically the custard variety, happens to be a popular dessert in Japan. On one of our first stops in the quiet and very stylish neighborhood of Nakameguro, we dropped by Happy Pudding, a small shop on a peaceful street corner that specializes in making pudding in jars. Every jar makes use of fresh eggs from the southern prefecture of Hyogo to produce, in our opinion, one of the most delicious puddings we’ve ever tasted. Every morning small jars are filled with Happy Pudding’s delicious flavors that range from classic custard to seasonal delights like chestnut and pumpkin. On this particular visit, we chose the classic “Happy” and the limited edition “Pumpkin”. We sat down on the benches outside to enjoy the crisp fall air and the beautiful view of Nakameguro’s signature tree-lined river, along with our jars of perfectly velvety pudding. Not too sweet and certainly not bland, Happy Pudding makes for a nice quick bite of dessert or a gift to pick up for family and friends.

Happy Pudding Mahakara
Tōkyō-to, Meguro-ku, Aobadai, 1 Chome−17−5, Maison Aoba
http://www.happypudding.com (in Japanese)

Madhufalla & Green Hill Tea

Holiday season, which means indulging in bountiful meals of turkey, stuffing, pies, and alcoholic beverages, also means flu season. While we enjoy the company of friends and family and also delicious food, we want to stay healthy for the occasion. Enter: juicing and smoothies. This phenomenon, or shall we say, lifestyle, has been around since the 1970s, but has really started to flourish and establish its roots in mainstream society just in the past couple of years. Documentaries like Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead enlighten viewers to the healing properties of fruits and vegetables, and how it can really transform the health and well being of an individual for the better. It’s not just during spring and summer that we should enjoy these beverages, if anything, winter time is probably when we need it the most! So this time around, we wanted to introduce you to one of our local favorites, Madhufalla.

Located right in New York City’s downtown Nolita, Madhufalla is a juice, smoothie, and health food store owned by Jerry Karma. It’s not a Juice Generation or Juice Press, but that’s part of Madhufalla’s charm. When you enter, you’re confronted with a wall of options, from classics like a green smoothie consisting of kale, pineapple and banana to “Super Special” editions like Rasta Punch and Magic Smoothie packed with superfood ingredients, this one’s a place you won’t get tired of. Naomi ordered the Raw Super and I got the Miracle Greens. The Raw Super is made from banana, blueberry, acai, maca, and hemp, very berry and very nutty. (Did you know maca is a South American root that is said to help enhance your energy, stamina, and memory?) Meanwhile, my Miracle Greens included spirulina (high in minerals, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties), dandelion greens (super detoxifying and great for acne prone skin!), celery, and banana.This rich green smoothie is on the bitter side but if you like something that tastes “healthy,” which some people including myself do, then you will love this.

We can’t wait to go back and try everything! You should too 😉

Madhufalla & Green Hill Tea
183 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

Bar B

Japanese-Italian food, also known as Itameshi (Italian food), is a particular sub-cuisine within Japan, which features unusual twists on classic Italian staples like pasta, pizza, and risotto. Its origins date as far back as the 1920s, when spaghetti first appeared in Japanese restaurants, along with ‘red sauce’ popularized in the 1940s by Italian-American GIs after the war. It wasn’t until the 1990s that Italian cuisine really took off in Japan as a more”friendly, cheap, and cheerful” option compared to French food.

There aren’t as many Japanese-Italian food joints in New York compared to the booming ramen scene, but among the few in the city, Basta Pasta rings a superior note. In 1985, restaurateur Toshi Suzuki opened the original Basta Pasta in Tokyo, and five years later, in New York, located in the Chelsea neighborhood. His New York success has allowed him to undertake creative new ventures like Bar B, an Italian standing wine bar, inspired by small plate bars in Spain and Italy.

Open the menu and you’ll find Italian classics with Basta Pasta’s signature twist, a selection of carefully curated Italian wine (displayed neatly along the walls), and authentic Italian espresso. Naomi and I headed over on a Thursday night for some wine, delicious eats, and good conversations with friends. We started out with a cheese plate, a beautiful range of both hard and soft cheeses paired perfectly with small baguette slices. Our main dishes included Bar B’s seasonal creamy mushroom risotto, as well as their signature Fusilli, a cheesy concoction of finely diced prosciutto and porcini mushrooms. For the more carnivorous variety, we hear the house marinated skirt steak with potato salad is a standout!

If you don’t mind standing, Bar B is the perfect place to grab a bite or share a few glasses of wine with a friend or two. You’re sure to enjoy the soft lighting and cozy European atmosphere.

Bar B
84 7th Ave, New York, NY 10011
www.barbnyc.com

Barano

New York City is filled with delicious Italian cuisine that many have come to call their comfort food. The large selection can be quite overwhelming, so when you do find a favorite place, it’s one that you’ll keep coming back to. That one restaurant for us is Barano in South Williamsburg. Barano feels high end but still approachable, polished but manages to hit that comfort-food level. It’s a surprisingly all-encompassing restaurant that’s perfect for family dinners, date night, and even Sunday brunch.

Wednesday nights seemed to be one of their quiet nights, where even at 7pm, the restaurant stayed half-full with just the right amount of chatter (perfect time to go if you’re looking for a quiet place to dine!). We were seated at a dimly lit corner with a full view of the beautiful, dark-wood furnished interior. That night our appetite took the better of us, and we decided to order quite a spread: antipasto consisting of both salted and smoked mozzarella and thinly sliced prosciutto, meatballs made from 21-day dry-aged beef with herb ricotta, bucatini with wood-roasted maitake mushroom, brown, butter, basil pesto, and bottarga, and finally, a zucchini pizza garnished with beautiful zucchini blossoms. Our favorites were the smoked mozzarella brought out in a beautiful glass dome lid, where upon lifting it, the smoke dissipated leaving a beautiful aroma behind. The meatballs were light and fluffy, doused in a delightful sauce. And last but not least, the bucatini made with mushrooms was the perfect dish to start off the fall season, it’s earthy taste combined with the tangy pesto and handmade noodles made for a one-of-a-kind plate.

Barano
26 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11249
www.baranobk.com