Monday, July 30, 2012

ROC - Taqueria 2 Guys

The best tacos in Southern California aren't found within the sterile, sugar-coated police state confines of a suburb. They are found in cities no where near as pearly as say Laguna Beach which their names immediately stir up rough connotations in one's mind. Be that as it may, the vibrant light that shines from these cities comes from the strong, tightly-knit Mexican communities and their culture. A large part of their culture is their food with tacos being a significant part of it. With the help of Yelp, I was able to find one of the best, authentic taquerias in Santa Ana known as Taqueria 2 Guys. The highlight of this place is their divine al Pastor (Marinated Pork) authentically cooked on the shawarma grill. Out of all the meats, al Pastor is my favorite which is why I have a whole lot of heart for this place. Their address is 925 W Warner Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92707 and their number is (714) 557-4350. Taqueria 2 Guys is open on Tuesday-Sunday with Mondays closed.

I will definitely go more in-depth into their al Pastor but some of their other great meats to try for tacos and burittos are Chorizo (Mexican Sausage), Bisteca (Beef) and Chuleta (Pork - unmarinated). The tacos range from $1.29-1.59. After 5pm, the al Pastor tacos are lowered to 99 cents. The al Pastor tacos are shaven onto the tortilla from the shawarma grill and then topped with onion, cillantro and pineapple which is a unique touch with the place. Topping the tacos with juice from a lime wedge and their amazing jalapeno (most favorite) and chipotle salsas, the tacos are ready to be eaten and once it's in your mouth, culinary nirvana is acheived. These al Pastor tacos are the best I've ever had. The following pics of al Pastor tacos are from times eating and ordering them togo.

In addition to their tacos, they have amazing burittos. I used to prefer burittos more than tacos when my perspective of Mexican food was very limited to Taco Bell and Baja Fresh. However, after trying the authentic restaurants in Southern California, that switched. They either have a regular burito with meat, rice and beans for $5 and for a dollar more, you can get the special buritto which is an all meat buritto with your choice of meat. The following is their special buritto with al Pastor as the meat choice.

The two owners, a husband and wife duo, are very friendly and warm. When you come in, the husband will introduce himself to you and shake your hand. The rest of the staff are extremely warm and friendly as well. They do offer complementary chips as well as you can enjoy their amazing salsas with them, especially the jalopeno one. Therefore, if you want amazing, perhaps the best al Pastor tacos in Orange County, come to Taqueria 2 Guys. If you're say in a suburb say Irvine, do muster up the courage to travel to Santa Ana. I used to be like that, completely sheltered in Irvine, years back when studying at UCI. Santa Ana's much safer than you think.

Update 3/1/2013 -

After more than a year since their grand opening, they now serve shrimp tacos only on Fridays. They come with a Chipotle Crema and Pico de Gallo. With a squirt of lime, they are very delicious as even three of them weren't enough as I wanted some more on the day I first tried them. Be sure to try them if you're at Taqueria 2 Guys on Friday, especially on your lunch break. You'll end up wanting to order more!

Taqueria 2 Guys on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 26, 2012

ROC - Ikko, best sushi in OC

Now, everyone has their own opinions on what's the best. However, Ikko, a Japanese restaurant serving traditional Edo-mae style Sushi (pre seasoned sushi with wasabi already added without the separate saucer for soy sauce and wasabi mixed in which by the way is a huge faux-pas at traditional sushi restaurants, but essentially required at the Americanized places) has, in my opinion, the best sushi overall in Orange County. Alongside with the sushi, they serve fusion Japanese dishes which can be a hit or miss. Aside from the fusion dishes, this restaurant is an amazing example of how the vast majority of the time  traditional/ truly authentic foods greatly triumphs their Americanized counterparts. In support of my claim of Ikko being the best sushi restaurant in Orange County, I've taken all of my friends here and they immediately love the place. Ikko even performs miracles of having people who were originally not into sushi or anything raw into fanatics having revelations of what they've just put into their mouths. Many people don't expect Orange County to have restaurants serving amazing food like this but Ikko easily rivals sushi restaurants in San Francisco, New York, even Los Angeles.

Walking in the restaurant, the environment is very dim and intimate versus the strip mall that Ikko's in. Reservations are highly recommended. On Fridays-Sundays, depending on their quantity, they offer live Ama-Ebi (Sweet Shrimp, but more like a prawn) which is amazing but for $14 a piece. In addition, I highly recommend seating at the sushi bar where your sushi can be served throughout a one-by-one progression instead of the tables where they would deliver all of your sushi orders at once where some of the pieces have been sitting out for a while. Also, if you're on a date, being at the bar would extend the date and make the experience a great conversation topic as the sushi chef would describe each sushi. It is very important to eat the sushi once it's in front of you.

For my first appetizer, I had ordered the Carpaccio with Citrus Vinaigrette. Usually they would used to make it with Red Snapper (Tai). However, the tragic 3/11 Tohoku earthquake devestated the region where they would get the red snapper and it was taken off the menu. You would have to ask the sushi chef himself for this dish and he would replace it with a similar fish in which I got "Chicken Grunt" (I know, odd name if you're not into the nomenclature of fish; also known as "Izaki" in Japanese). Although not traditional, this is an amazing dish that I would order every time as the fermented Yuzu, herbs, sea salt, olive oil, and the citrus vinaigrette would complement the fish. This is also the dish that hooks my friends to Ikko as it would be the first thing that they have.

The next appetizer that I ordered was something from their fusion menu which is a Miso-Marinated Cod with a Mustard Hollandaise. I was so surprised that this dish work out so well. With the butteriness from both the cod and the hollandaise, the dish tasted so amazing that I thought it was Michelin quality.

Onward to the sushi course, the chef would place each sushi one by one and I would take a piece of ginger (Gari) as a pallate cleanser in between. From the order that you would fill out on the sushi chart they would provide, the chef will course the progression from light to heavy sushi. The first was Rock Cod (Mebaru) imported from Kyushu, Japan. It was topped with no sauce as there was only fermented yuzu and sea salt. The rock cod was very light, clean tasting.

Second was tuna (Maguro/Akami). It was seasoned with soy sauce. If you love Akami (Lean Tuna), then you'll love their preparation at Ikko as the seasoning would complement its subtle flavors.

The next was Albacore (Shiro maguro - lit. white tuna) seasoned with Ponzu (citrus seasoned soy) and topped with a fried garlic chip and scallions.

Bonito (Katsuo) was offered this time on the list as the fish was in season in Japan. It was seasoned in ponzu and then topped with scallions and something else (sorry, don't quite remember). Some of the other sushi restaurants might offer it year around but Ikko serves it when it's the best during the summer.

The next sushi diverges from tradition: Iberico Ham. It was first cross-hatched, seared with a blowtorch, and then topped with a fried garlic chip. With the saltiness from the cured ham and the smokiness amplified by the blowtorch, this tasted amazing! This cooked sushi would serve as a great transition to get someone into sushi.

Listed as Fatty Bluefin Tuna, I've received in what I think was Chu-toro (medium fatty) compared to O-toro (most fatty). Usually they would sear it in order to caramalize the fat in the fish but I usually prefer it raw. Be warned that as it's listed as market price, it's usually around $18 for two pieces. The sushi came out pre-seasoned with soy. I definitely tasted the fattiness of the fish as I immediately compared it to Akami.

Now when I took the photos, it was a rainy day. Therefore, my most favorite sushi, Sea Urchin (Uni), was unavailable as they would harvest it off the Santa Barbara Coast. I was so devastated as Ikko has definitely the best Santa Barbara Uni I've tried in the States. I imagine they were able to get the best grade. Here's a pic from one of my previous trips (sorry, I ate a piece) served in a "nigiri" style (fish on top of rice) unlike its Gunkan (Battleship roll) preparation with the seaweed wrapped horizontally. I understand that uni is a very acquired taste but if you have developed the appreciation for uni, you must definitely order it at Ikko.

Next was Salmon Roe (Ikura) served as a Gunkan. Roe from any fish tends to be very salty. If you can take the saltiness of roe, then you'll love Ikura.

The chef then asked me if I wanted to try anything else. I decided to order scallop (Hotate) from Hokkaido. This dish would have been placed earlier within the sequence. Even though there's no sauce pre-seasoned, I would not be intimidated to try Hotate raw as the fermented yuzu and sea salt complement well with the Hotate's butteriness and surprisingly clean flavors.

During Lunch, Ikko serves chirashizushi (scattered sushi over a bowl of sushi rice) in addition to having nigirizushi available. They also serve noodles and cooked lunch specials as well. For their chirashizushi, they have three main ones: Assorted (serving fish from America), Shellfish (Uni, Ikura, Ebi, Whelk (Tsubugai), smoked salmon), and Premium Assorted (Serving Japanese and American fish, along with Uni and Ikura). They are around $25, $35, and $45 respectively. In addition to the mentioned chirazushi, they have a Bluefin Tuna Chirashizushi special which has raw lean Tuna (Maguro/Akami), Tuna Tataki (Seared outside, raw in the middle), Negitoro (Chopped tuna belly (toro) with green onion mixed in), and Tamago (Egg). For a very reasonable price, the special runs for $18. The following are pictures of the Bluefin Tuna Chirashizushi along with seaweed salad, miso soup, and Japanese pickles that come with any of the Chirashizushi. Prior to being served the previously mentioned, a salad with a vinaigrette is given (sorry, I forgot to take its picture).

People would think sushi, with it being raw, as very fishy which deters people away from trying it. However, the best sushi itself would be devoid of that preconceived notion as fresh raw fish should taste very clean. Whenever I would take friends who were not originally fans of sushi to Ikko, they've used to have past thoughts of sushi being slimy, fishy and/or loaded with mayonaise and tempura batter. Their perceptions have changed to the opposite as how they surprisingly realized that sushi tastes clean and now can appreciate the subtle flavors of the fish along with the sushi chef delicately pre-seasoning it in order to create a harmonious sensation for one's mouth to enjoy.

After taking many people here to Ikko, I've came to realize that a significant amount of people who haven't before appreciated haute cuisine or international delicacies, let alone spend money on it, is that they've never tried them at their best, usually in their authentic form. However, there are also certainly people that just flat-out don't enjoy and can't appreciate them. Although I admit that I don't understand them, I'm not trying to say that they're awful people just because of that. I know that there are those that have satisfaction or just comfortable eating what they're used to. However, there are people further along the spectrum that just eat to ward off hunger, not caring about taste (not referring to vegetarians/vegans) and find zero pleasure in eating (I can't imagine myself being compatible with these people) even though they're financially able to eat something delicious. We humans are fortunate to have the neurological capacity to enjoy food as it's one of life's greatest pleasures. I hope one day in their lives that they are willing to get out of their comfort zone and just simply try the many different foods that are out there. If you want to experience the best sushi in Orange County prepared in an Edo-mae standard or if you want to change people's perceptions to realize how divine sushi can be, make a reservation to Ikko. Their address and phone number are 735 Baker Street  Costa Mesa, CA 92626; (714) 556-7822

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

ROC - Fukada

I've been coming to Fukada for years ever since I first came to Orange County. The udon, soba and somen are made by hand in house. Most people, especially first timers, get the noodle combo where you choose which noodle you want and then how you want it served as in a hot, umami-loaded soup or cold with a shoyu-based dipping sauce (Tsuyu). Next, you choose what topping you want of either  Sansai (mountain vegetables) or Tanuki (fried batter). They have other toppings but they're additional in cost. Also, it comes with a small donburi (rice bowl) of either pork katsu (Pork cutlet in egg), curry, eel (an additional cost), chicken katsu, or spicy tuna with either brown or white rice. This combo is around $10 with the price rising a couple bucks more for dinner which makes Fukada a popular lunch spot. However, Fukada has other amazing items on their menu especially if you've been having the combo too many times.

After coming for years many times, I feel that I should highlight another amazing dish of theirs: Giant Shrimp (more like prawn) Ten Zaru Udon. After watching the Japanese Drama "Attention Please", I would always want to order it as the main heroine, played by the pretty and talented Aya Ueto, would always eat it, although with soba instead of udon, after work in the show ( This dish that I would order first comes the cold udon or soba (depending on what you've ordered) in a wicker bowl with nori (seaweed) strips on top along with the shoyu-based dipping sauce, wasabi and finely-chopped green onion. Next, they would bring out a dish that has these two very large prawn tempura along with vegetable tempura of eggplant, asparagus, lotus root, yam, and potato. The prawns were fried perfectly with the batter of being very crispy along with the shrimp cooked at the right point where it's not dry and tough. Those prawns, along with the vegetable tempura that were also perfectly fried, were so delicious. By only two dollars more expensive over the combo, what I don't understand is why don't more people go for this instead as the quality of the tempura far exceeds the increased price difference. This dish of Fukada should deserve much more recognition as I've had friends order this dish and loved it. When they came back for future visits, they would order that over the noodle combo that everyone else orders. See it for yourself on how delicious the Giant Shrimp Ten Zaru Udon is:

If you're in the mood for noodles in hot broth instead, I would recommend the Seafood Nabeyaki. I opted for udon instead of soba as my noodle choice. Boiled in Fukada's soup; scallops, salmon, tofu, shiitake mushrooms, spinich, a tempura shrimp (smaller thank the prawn served with the Ten-Zaru Soba), and other vegetables are added in order to bring out their flavors. They build on to the original brothy soup adding more of a seafood character to it. They would serve it, along with a separate smaller bowl for eating out of, in a clay pot it was boiled in. This dish was of course very delicious. It really warms you up on those few rainy days by the beach in Orange County.

Fukada also has many other noodle items with different toppings along with appetizers. On one of my other visits, I ordered an Albacore Tataki served with an onion dressing, Oroshi (Grated Radish) Udon served with Tsuyu, and some Hotate (Scallop) Tempura. Be that as it may that the Albacore Tataki is not one of the more traditional dishes served at Fukada, it was very delicious and a great way to start the meal. When the Oroshi Udon was served, I mixed the Oroshi with the Udon before applying it into my cup filled with tsuyu, negi, and wasabi (I've heard later that wasabi didn't go well with oroshi as they're both radishes). This noodle preparation was, of course, amazing along with it being refreshing and full of flavor while not making you feel groggy instead. If you're very health conscious, I would recommend Oroshi Udon served cold. Next came the Hotate Tempura: it was fried to the right point and with it not being overly oily as typical with American fried seafood. With tempura dipping sauce on the side along with some oroshi and grated ginger, I would mix them together in the sauce plate and then dip my tempura into them before savoring it. The scallop was very delicious and juicy as I had mentioned it was cooked to the right point. In addition to the food, I have to mention that their house-made lemonade (barely pictured with the tempura) is very tasty and refreshing. If you're not having an alcoholic beverage, I definitely suggest to try it out; you'll be hooked!

Fukada is a great spot for authentic, freshly-made, Japanese noodles along if you're too looking for a healthy meal as well. I'm aware that due to the value, most people usually opt for the combination specials. However, if you're looking to try something more exciting in which you'll definitely stand out from the rest, order was was written in this review and you'll surely be impressed with what else Fukada has to offer!
Fukada on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 22, 2012

ROC - Takaya Yakitori Izakaya

After an amazing trip in Japan, I went back to the home base of Orange County. I first came down here from up in the SF Bay Area in order to study at UCI. Good thing Yelp had existed, otherwise I would have not known where to eat in Orange County as all I knew at the time was the restaurants from One might think how Orange Country is with its sugar-coated, police-state suburbs and how it's a cultural wasteland; it can be like that. However, there is diversity, primarily cities with different ethnic groups that makes Orange County deserve more credit as it does have some amazing restaurants, especially in terms of international cuisine. Of course there are American/European establishments that are great too. However, comparing from where I grew up to here in Southern California in general, I think it's safe to say that Norcal has better New American/ French restaurants due to the wineries in Sonoma/Napa, San Francisco's food scene, and organic, local produce as highlighted and made famous by Alice Waters and her famed restaurant in Berkeley, Chez Panisse. Be that as it may, Southern California remains king when it comes to international cuisine, primarily in Mexican and Asian. As mentioned earlier that Orange County deserves a better culinary reputation especially in international cuisine, I will be making posts under the category: "The Redemption of Orange County" (ROC) in order to highlight and blog about amazing restaurants in Orange County.

For my first ROC post, I would love to talk about the amazing yakitori (grilled chicken pieces on a bamboo skewer, but also refers to other meats or vegetables on a skewer) that I've had at Takaya Yakitori Izakaya ( My friend and I stumbled upon this place when we were about to go to the ramen place next door. It turned out that it was their first day for the restaurant. They were having their soft opening in order to work out the kinks of the restaurant such as having the waiters to be accustomed with what the store sold. Although some of orders were either forgotten or was something different instead, they did offer 30% for the bill. Therefore, I didn't really complain plus I understood that it was some of these peoples' first day of working.

When we walked in, the restaurant gave us complementary "otoshi" (very small dish at the beginning) of bean sprouts seasoned in sesame oil. In Japan, an otoshi is given for paying the table/seating fee at an izakaya which is for service instead of a tip at these sort of places. I also ordered shochu on the rocks and some beer on the tap.

For ordering the yakitori, you would just write what quantity for which meat you would like along with if you want it salted or with yakitori sauce. There are dishes from the menu that you can order as well. The following pics of yakitori are salted chicken thigh, sauced chicken thigh, sauced fatty pork, and sauced chicken skin. What's different from this places versus the other places is that instead of the fermented yuzu condiment, they have spicy miso instead for the yakitori. They were all very flavorful plus they were juicy as well.

The sauced pork belly was their most amazing thing they had on the list of yakitori. It was so moist!

Next came the salted quail eggs and meatballs. They were then followed by the shrimp with the shell on. You would peel them off and enjoy.

The next were some of the main sharing dishes from their menu. We got the chicken cartilage by mistake but just ended up eating it anyways. It was actually not bad, but the only thing that didn't fit was that they used American mayonnaise instead of the Japanese one which is smoother and sweeter.
We also ordered their scallop carpaccio as it was one of their few raw items. It was alright. I wish they had more raw items such as a red snapper carpaccio or maguro (tuna) sashimi. I apologize that I took the pics after they were mostly eaten. I've also ordered a double white peach chuhai since my friend was driving and that the bill was 30% off in which any sane human being would just go for it.

Our last dish was Agedashi Tofu which is a fried tofu in a soy mixed with dashi seasoning topped with daikon radish and green onion. This dish was really good but do note that it's not vegetarian as the dashi seasoning/stock uses fish as its ingredient.

For just stumbling on to this place, it was a great find! Their yakitori is so delicious and was the most juciest out of all the places I've tried in the US. The owners do have another location in Tokyo so you know that the food they're serving is very authentic. I would definitely go back and recommend others to visit especially if you're going to Kitsch Bar next door.

Update: They're having their 20% off until the end of July. I went back for another try and they've worked out all the glitches, especially with the dining service as the waiters are now more comfortable with the restaurant. Hands down, this is the best yakitori place in Orange County. Prior to going, I've had ramen next door at a restaurant called Kohryu. I love their Spicy Shoyu (soy sauce) broth versus the other places. In addition, I prefer their chewier egg noodles as well. However, I prefer their wontons more than their pork slices so I usually get the Wonton Ramen with spicy shoyu. Unlike some of their other ramen, this doesn't include a runny egg soft boiled in soy. Therefore, I ordered an additional topping of the egg for an extra $1.50. Here's their Yelp link:

Back to Takaya - When I came in around 7, they were packed as they've recently had their grand opening. I had to wait a bit but the servers were really polite and thankful for me waiting. I had Kurokirishima shochu on the rocks ( while waiting for the yakitori. In the meantime, I ordered Ankimo - monkfish liver. At first for $5.50, it's a bit of a small dish plus it only was in a seasoned soy sauce with shaved daikon radish on top. I thought this dish was going to not taste right but it was one of the best Ankimo I've ever tasted. If you've had Ankimo, it's definitely an acquired taste. With the simplicity of only a few addons of the radish and soy, you can definitely taste its butteriness and the flavor of the Ankimo.

After the Ankimo, the first order of yakitori came: salted pork belly and salted chicken thigh and green onion. Wow, when I used my chopsticks to get the meat off the skewers, I can see the juices flow out from the meat. Both sticks, especially the pork belly, are extremely succulent and delicious.

The next yakitori stick was the sauced chicken skin. My god, this was the best chicken skin I've had in Orange County, flowing with juices and oils. Here's the pieces off from the stick.

My last sticks came out as I've just had a bowl of ramen as I didn't order as much for a full meal. It was a salted shrimp with the shell on and salted asparagus and bacon with green onion. They were both really good although the bacon was tad bit overdone with salt.

Oh yeah, I'll definitely be coming back. Be sure to try this place as they're very authentic from Tokyo!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Convenient Stores in Japan and their Amazing Food

From my previous posts, you all know that I've had amazing food, perhaps splurged, in Japan. However, as I could only save up to a certain amount, I've had my meals for half the time from the convenient stores. The convenient store companies that exist in Japan are Lawsons, Family Mart, and 7-Eleven (known as Seven & I Holdings, also they are now a Japanese company). Now, convenient stores in the US aren't exactly known for their outright delicious food, although they're cheap. If you have seen the most recent episode on Japan of No Reservations, Tony Bourdain with David Chang goes to a Lawson and eat all the amazing food over there as Tony himself is very surprised over the quality of the food. These convenient stores are pretty much in every city/town in Japan. In addition, the cashiers are very polite as well.

As I was hungry later throughout the night for my first day, I went to a 24 hour Family Mart. They were stocking up the new stuff for the following day. I ended up getting cold Tanuki Udon that came with packets of the soup and wasabi (w/ tempura batter, around 350-380 ¥), Kirin Grapefruit Strong  (%8 abv) chuhai ( those strong chuhais will get you wasted and only approx 180-201 ¥), a 180 ml flask of Suntory Whiskey (only 480¥, holy crap!), and a cheap 100¥ pair of disposable razors as having a 5 O'clock shadow isn't something that's common in Japan (they were terrible :( , the razors  ). The Udon tasted like some of the udon back in the States which is to say that it's pretty good or that those restaurants in the States need to pick up (On the other hand in the near future, I'll be making a post of one of the best, authentic Japanese noodle restaurants in SoCal which of course blows the convenience store udon away). In addition along with the strong grapefruit chuhai, the Suntory whiskey (the same brand in the movie "Lost in Translation" but different whiskey, they advertised the Suntory Hibiki Blended whiskey. They currently sell the 12 year in the States and it is amazing!) proved itself to be a wonderful nightcap.

The next morning, I went to a 7-Eleven convenience store and picked up a Karaage (Fried Chicken) and Fried Rice Bento (495¥) and a cold Green Tea Matcha Latte made with condensed milk (approx 140¥). When buying a cooked bento, the cashier will ask if you want to have it heated with their microwave (on the label, they give you recommended heating times according to the power of the microwave). The bento itself was very filling and delicious. I've noticed that while these store bentos are very convenient, they're not as cheap as I had remembered them out to be with my first trip as the bento was nearly 5 bucks of their currency to which it's around $6-7 US after the exchange rate.

After eating all the great food from Dotenbori in Osaka, I once again made a late night trek of only a block to the 24 hour 7-Eleven near my hostel. This time, I got a cream sauce pasta with Ham (approx 430 ¥), a Katsu Sandwich (Deep Fried Pork Cutlet, 390¥), a 180 ml of Nikka Black Whiskey (Nikka, now owned by Asahi, is the rival of Suntory whiskey), another Kirin Strong Grapefruit Chuhai (180¥) and a Kirin non-alcoholic, non-carbonated Lychee drink (150¥). One thing that I noticed is that the canned beer and cocktails cost only a bit more, if not the same price as a non-alcoholic drink. I wish it were like that here in the US where there's a huge markup. The pasta and the Katsu sandwich were delicious. Once again, the whiskey, along with the strong chuhai, were great nightcaps.

Back in Tokyo in the Asakusa neighborhood, I went back to one of the 7-Elevens. As 7-Eleven used to be an American company, they are well known in the US for their Slurpees. The 7-Eleven I went to was one of their larger ones and unlike the others, they actually had slurpees! They did have unique Japanese flavors like Fanta Green Melon and this milk soda flavor as well (my favorite out of the two). It cost around 190¥ in which in the US, it's like $1.90 for a 44 oz. size as I got something around 20 oz.. The thing I found annoying was that the machines had like a small door you hat to pull aside in order to get the cup under the dispenser which made it difficult for me to fill it up all the way with the cap on along with mixing flavors as well to which not that may people did. In addition, people were not really buying Slurpees in the humid summer as not many are familiar with them. I ended up drinking it on the sidewalk in front of the store sitting on a stoop next to a group of grandpas which really made me feel like a little kid sipping on my Slurpee.

For my last meal before my departure back to the US, I only had around 500¥ to spare and ended up getting this small sized duck bento over rice (280¥) at the 7-Eleven. I have to say that it's alright.

Overall, the food at the convenient stores are amazing. They also have Onigiri (rice balls) for 105-120¥ depending on the flavor. In Japan, the price on the label has the tax included typically. Although they're great especially with their convenient nature, they've been a tad bit on the pricier end. In Tokyo and other big cities, there are restaurants that serve you either noodles (Ramen, Udon or Soba) or beef bowl that only cost around 500¥. With the addition of not having to tip, they're most likely a more economical option for a meal but this time, I might have been a tad bit intimidated with the language barrier although most of the Japanese are very polite. If you're ever in Japan, be sure to try food from a convenient store as not only do they have bentos but they also have cooked (steamed or fried) items next to the register.