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Authentic Japanese Bento Stand Opening in Paris Metro Station

Bento Stand Lunch Box

Michele B |

In just about every major train station in Japan, you’ll find a stand selling boxed lunches called ekiben.
A combination of the words eki (“station”) and bento (“boxed lunch”), ekiben serve as a tasty, convenient meal for travelers to dine on as they watch the scenery slip by outside their window.

Given that trains are terrestrial transportation, and that Japan is an island nation, until now you’ve generally had to come to Japan in order to get your hands on authentic station bento. That’s changing soon, though, with the opening of an ekiben stand in a rail station in Paris.

Paris-Gare de Lyon is one of the busiest rail hubs not just in the French capital, but on the European continent. With some 7.5 million people passing through each month, it’s a sure bet that many of them are hungry and/or in a hurry, and this winter they’ll be able to pick up a Japanese boxed lunch at the appropriately named Ekiben.

Located in Hall 2 of the station, the stand will sell an array of to-go Japanese meals. Adding an air of culinary legitimacy is the fact that the whole affair is being overseen by East Japan Railways and partner Nihon Restaurant Enterprise. Previously, Nihon Restaurant Enterprise has sold ekiben at special events in Singapore ad Taiwan, but this will be its first time offering boxed lunches to travelers in France.

Ekiben often make use of regional ingredients, and Ekiben’s Paris-Lyon Bento features French Charolais beef prepared sukiyaki style for 15 Euros (US$17). For the same price, the Makunouchi Bento is a traditional mix of grilled salmon tamagoyaki (Japanese-style omelet), and tempura.

Lower-priced options include the Omotenashi Bento (13 Euros), with sushi rolls and tempura, and the Maki Sukeroku Bento (eight Euros), with sushi rolls and inarizushi (vinegared rice wrapped in fried tofu).

Rounding out the menu is the Onigiri Bento. Modeled after the very first ekiben, which was offered at Utsunomiya Station in 1885, the eight-Euro Onigiri Bento comes with three rice balls (takikomigohan stock-flavored rice, another with bonito, and a third with salmon), plus a few pieces of karaage (fried chicken).

Ekiben opens on December 1, but similar to the trains waiting at the platforms, it won’t be at Paris-Gare de Lyon forever, as the limited-time bento stand will close for good on January 31.

News story first reported by
Photo by Richard Iwaki of Unsplash


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