Japanese convenience stores, also known as conbini, are famous throughout the world for their unique and high quality foods. Famous chains include 7-Eleven Japan, FamilyMart, Lawson, MiniStop, etc.; the list goes on and on. Conbini carry a variety of foods, household goods, and novelty items. They also offer many different types of services such as event ticket payments and package delivery.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly and last-minute date or party idea, keep reading. You really can find everything at a conbini!
In 2020, charcuterie boards became trendy on social media during the lockdowns in America, but in Japan charcuterie boards are not common at all. Japan thinks charcuterie boards as cool, but not something anyone really makes at home. It is very rare to find a ready-made charcuterie board in Japan.
One day, a friend of mine was using one of these services to buy a Japan-limited edition Final Fantasy XIV mount for a friend back home in the US. The process ended up being more complicated than we anticipated, so I spent a considerable time looking around the convenience store. I found myself looking at the meats and cheese section. I was surprised at the variety and the level of meats and cheeses they stocked. Maybe because the same friend had recently made a charcuterie and cheese board, but the idea manifested in my head. I could make a charcuterie and cheese board from a Japanese convenience store. So, I did just that!
Why a Japanese 7-ELEVEN charcuterie and cheese board?
Many Valentine’s Day ago, I made a charcuterie and cheese board for my partner. I packed it in an obnoxious Hello Kitty family size bento box and shared it with her in Buffalo Bayou Park in Houston, Texas. I’ve been living in Japan alone for the past few years. Because of this, we haven’t had a proper Valentine’s Day date in years. If she were here with me, I would be making this to share with her. She’s not, but that doesn’t mean that this idea has to go to waste! I hope that anyone needing to find a way to make Valentine’s Day special at home this year can take this idea and make it their own.
Whether it be for a romantic Valentine’s Day date at home or a late night with friends in your hostel while you’re traveling Japan on a budget, I hope this idea works out for you. Japanese 7-ELEVEN is a great option for this concept! They are extremely common in Japan therefore you can find them all over big cities and in the country side. They’re open 24/7, so you can still make one if you work late night shifts.
It is shockingly easy to make a charcuterie and cheese board from items found at Japanese 7-ELEVEN. They stock prosciutto, Camembert cheese, crackers, fresh and dried fruit, and so much more. My game plan was this:
- Set a reasonable budget
- Scout out the local 7-ELEVEN
- Go home and calculate the costs
- Buy the ingredients from 7-ELEVEN
- Make charcuterie board
- Enjoy it!
The Japanese 7-Eleven Charcuterie and Cheese Board Menu
Deciding the menu was difficult.
For one, Japanese cheese is famous for being terrible. On top of that, cheap cheese in Japan is certainly a gamble. Many Europeans may point out that I’m an American who doesn’t even know what good cheese tastes like, and that’s fair. Even if that’s true, cheese in Japan is so mediocre that the average American would agree that it’s lacking.
Because I wanted to make this a 7-ELEVEN branded charcuterie and cheese board, I purchased the 7-ELEVEN Japan brand cheeses to put on the board. Of course, I also wanted to include the charcuterie (meats), crackers, and some fun little snacks. These things are generally expensive in Japan, so I set a 2,000-3,000 yen budget. To stay within budget, I took shortcuts like buying mixed nuts to sort manually and excluding fresh fruit. Here’s what I ended up buying:
- 7-ELEVEN brand Smoked Cheddar Cheese: 298 yen
- Ritz crackers: 160 yen
- Meiji Cheddar Cheese: 98 yen
- 7-ELEVEN Sweet Dried Plums: 148 yen
- 7-ELEVEN 6 Piece Cheese: 198 yen
- Ham: 148 yen
- 7-ELEVEN Dry-Cured Ham: 168 yen
- 7-ELEVEN Cheese-Stuffed Salami and Soft Salami: 250 yen
- Baby Cheese: 140 yen
- 7-ELEVEN Roasted Mixed Nuts: 298 yen
- 7-ELEVEN Spicy Dried Sausage: 96 yen
Total: 2,002 yen excluding tax
I did not end up using some of the items because my plate couldn’t hold everything. Here are other items I bought, but did not use:
- Meiji Camembert Cheese: 498 yen
- Delicious Salami: 198 yen
- Dried Sausage: 96 yen
- 7-ELEVEN Loin Ham: 168 yen
Actual total: 2,962 yen excluding tax.
In the past, I’ve only made one (hideous) charcuterie and cheese board, so I tried to keep it simple and spent a minimal amount of time rearranging ingredients. I never actually tried any of these meats or cheeses before, so I was apprehensive to how they would taste.
I used a flat plate since I don’t have a beautiful cutting board of my own. If you would like to use a cutting board, you can find them in 100 yen shops for 300 yen. My 7-ELEVEN didn’t sell cutting boards.
Here is the result!
I think it looks pretty good! Some improvements would be adding more colors and fresh things onto the board, but I was working with a budget and only a 7-ELEVEN, so options are limited. Not bad for my second try!
Initially, I planned for a 3,000 yen budget. The plate did not fit all of the items, so that helped knock it down to the 2,000 yen total. After assembling the plate, I even had some leftover cheese.
The Taste – Japanese 7-Eleven Has a Shocking Variety
Japan is not known for its cheese and 7-ELEVEN isn’t either, so I was a little apprehensive about how everything would taste. Now, I do not claim to be a meat or cheese expert. I would say I’m more of a casual fan. That being said, overall the meats were amazing for the price and the cheeses certainly got the job done. These cheeses do not compare to artisan cheeses, but they do have their own flavors, and sometimes that’s all we can ask for in Japan. The 7-ELEVEN 6 Piece Cheese and the Baby Cheese taste very similar to each other, so I would not buy the Baby Cheese again. I also recommend skipping the 7-ELEVEN Sweet Dried Plums for my next board because the flavor profile did not match with the rest of the board. They tasted too sour.
I would do this again! I’m on my own so I ended up eating this myself and it was a lot of food. This board serves about 2-4 people. For two people, this board would be a filling meal. For four people, this board is more of a snack.
Part of what helped this work out so well is that in Japan, stores sell meats and cheeses in small quantities since people often have limited storage in their refrigerators. Japanese 7-ELEVEN really came through with the quality of food and I would encourage everyone to try to make their own!
Will you give this a try? If you do tag us on Instagram(@eatingwithstephano) and make sure to tag what convenience stores you used!
Do you have any other convenience store challenges we should try? Comment down below and let us know! This was really fun!