May 17, 16 | Yuki Konishi
The long seller Yakitori Bento from Hasegawa store! Sells 900,000 boxes every year
▲The entrance is decorated with the bento box shaped object which can be noticed from a distance!
Yakitori Bento was born from Hakodate’s food culture and love of Hasegawa StoreThree grilled skewed pork ribs covered with the sweet soy sauce based sauce. Hasegawa Store’s Yakitori Bento is, as you can see, not made with chicken.
▲The most popular Yakitori Bento (small) sauce flavor 445 yen. Contains 220g rice even if it is a small size.
Hokkaido is a pork culture district. For a long time, people used pork for sukiyaki and shabu-shabu. Pork is still preferred for Yakitori today, especially in the port town area, sweet sauce flavors are more popular comparing to salt flavors.
At the predecessor liquor store “Hasegawa Sakujirou Shouten”, Yakitori (of course pork) or onigiri or bento boxes were cooked for a warm snack with alcoholic drinks.
▲Not only the bento boxes but the number of orders of Yakitori is large.
This is a story on a night. A customer came to Hasegawa Store to buy a bento box but it was sold out on that day. But they wanted to provide something and came up with the idea to make a bento box using rice, which was for onigiri and seaweed, and Yakitori. I see, this is why Yakitori Bento has seaweed on the rice!
It has been on sale from 1978 and has become a long seller product. Hakodate citizens call “Hasesuto’s Yakiben”. Today, Yakitori Bento became a big hit, being sold at all 14 branches and sells 900,000 boxes every year.
▲There is an illustration of a pig grilling yakitori on the package. Beni Shoga, red pickled ginger, gives some accent to the taste.
They start to grill yakitori after the order. Have the freshly made bento!The attraction of Yakitori Bento is that they don’t stock the readymades, and let people enjoy freshly made bento. When they get an order, they put the pork on the gas range and start to grill. Dip the pork into the thick sauce and put them on the rice with seaweed, and it’s done. It takes about 4 minutes.
This is a usual scene if it is a bento box specialized store, but this is a convenience store. The policy to “make customers happy” continues from the predecessor Hasegawa Sakujirou Shouten can be felt.
▲The point is to spray red wine to make the pork softer.
The sauce is based on soy sauce, thick but not too sweet. The seaweed soaked with the sauce can be enjoyed like Nori Bento.
▲JIRO, the bassist of Japanese band from Hakodate called “GLAY”, introduced Yakitori Bento in the book he wrote, and Yakiben became famous all over Japan.
The largest store “Nakamichi Store” has the large booth for Yakitori Bento right in front of the entrance. At the back shelf, normal convenience store bento boxes are displayed at about the half of the area. Another half is dedicated for deli cooked in the store. The freshly baked bread, bento boxes, and other deli foods are available.
▲The Yakitori Bento Booth in Nakamichi Store (on the top). At the time I covered, the amount of deli was getting little but freshly made delis will be refilled. You can make your own bento box by picking the deli and rice.
Yakitori Bento provides the same taste but there are two points that got better. They are the ditches and cut seaweed. The ditches are intended to take the pork from the skew easily and cuts of seaweed are intended to make easy to cut with chopsticks. These considerations thought from the side of customers are so wonderful.
▲Check the ditches of the box (top left) -> fit the skew to the ditches (top right) -> hold the lid and turn the skew as you pull (bottom left) -> the pieces of pork are off the skew without making your hands dirty!
The product has lots of stories and very popular so there are lots of inquiries to sell Yakitori Bento at exhibitions of the products of Hokkaido. However, they keep declining the offer. The reason from Naotoshi Kusakari, the executive director and the head of product development, was like this: “The taste was raised by people in Hakodate. I want the taste of Yakitori Bento to be something to taste in Hakodate when they come back here.”
Yakitori Bento is highly recommended because it is really easy Hakodate style food to try when you visit Hakodate for travel or for business. Why don’t you buy Yakitori Bento to eat in your express train, Shinkansen, or in the plane? Have a nice evening with freshly made hot Yakitori Bento and cold SAPPORO CLASSIC beer.
Text / Hokkaido Likers Writer Yuki Konishi
Photograph / Hokkaido Likers Photographer Minako Takada