It’s no secret that Japanese convenience stores – or conbinis as they’re known locally, are on another level. The sheer variety of to-go food and goods makes our convenience stores back home look poorly stocked.
At the center of this so-called institution is conbini chicken, a deep-fried, breaded chicken cutlet sold at many a counter. It is so legendarily delicious that some even claim you haven’t experienced Japanese cuisine at its peak if you’ve not sunk your teeth into one of these sinful cutlets.
This begs the question: with as many as three major conbini chains in any Japanese city, whose fried chicken is the best? Needless to say, I set out to undertake this mission against my better judgment, and to my stomach’s great delight.
(Also partially inspired by this tweet.)
3. 7-ELEVEN’s NanaChiki ななチキ
Being a (rather) frequent patron of 7-Eleven in Japan, I had high hopes for its NanaChiki ななチキ which was released in 2016.
Sadly, it fell short of my expectations. While its recipe has been touted to contain up to 11 spices, the chicken itself was on the dry side, and tasted more like a fairly large piece of chicken skin crackling. Conclusion: Save your calorie count.
2. Lawson’s EruChiki エルチキ
Compared to 7-Eleven, Lawson’s EruChiki エルチキ is noticeably moister, with a thick coating that lends more bite to the chicken meat. You can almost taste its tenderness as you sink your teeth into it.
That said, that’s all EruChiki has going for it. I found the skin to be a tad oily, even bland, with a lack of any aftertaste whatsoever. For a snack of more bite-sized proportions, you can check out the Karaage-kun, which is said to be pop star Katy Perry’s favourite.
1. Family Mart’s fAMIcHIKIファミチキ
FamiChiki, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?! I first discovered this fabled creation during a hunger-filled hunt for a conbini dinner late one night.
Family Mart’s bestseller is a cult hit, and for good reason. The meat is undeniably tender and moist, with just the right amount of oil. And the slight hint of spice is what seals the deal for me. My only regret is not ordering more in a bid to reserve stomach space for the other two conbini chicken during this experiment.
(Yes, I had three pieces of conbini chicken in one day. Stop judging me.)
So there you have it – my personal take on the best conbini chicken in Japan. Which convenience store food is your favourite?