Crazy Cheap but Crazy Quality: Why You’ll Love This Japanese Convenience Store

Crazy Cheap but Crazy Quality: Why You’ll Love This Japanese Convenience Store

Convenience stores are a rather common sight in Japan. Hokkaido is no different, with their most popular chain being Seicomart (or "Secoma" for short). This private brand convenience store is characterized by its focus on Hokkaido-produced ingredients, and boasts the top market share in Hokkaido with it's unique “Hot Chef” service, which unlike most other companies, prepare their lunches freshly in-shop. Without further ado, let's take a look at some of Seicomart's authentic Hokkaido-produced food items that you can easily find here.

*Product information as of November 2019.

Secoma: A Pioneer of Convenience Store Goods

Seicomart's history begins in August of 1971, with the opening of its first store in Sapporo. At the time, convenience stores were not yet a big thing in Japan. However, since then, the number of shops has managed to expand to about 1,100 branches, mostly located within Hokkaido. You can see signs featuring their orange phoenix logo high above most cities, towns, and villages. This convenience store is a well-known brand that has become indispensable to the lives of the local people.

Hot Chef: Changing the Concept of Convenience Store Box Lunches

Hot Chef has taken the concept of convenience store bento-box lunches, which are usually made at a factory, and turned it on its head. Their lunches, featuring bento boxes, rice balls, fried potatoes, and fried chicken, are all made fresh, right in each participating store. Some locations even have a bakery in their kitchen, producing freshly baked breads. And did you notice the little cow pictured on the sign? That's "Sei-Chan," who was named after the store.

And now for the top recommended Hot Chef items.

You’ve Got to Try This Local Pork Dish: “Butadon”

Butadon (Pork Bowl) 500 yen

Butadon (Pork Bowl) 500 yen

Butadon is a local dish of the Tokachi Region. It is a pork dish that is simple to cook yet delicious to eat. Seicomart's pork is cooked at a high temperature which just adds to its tender and juicy qualities, and it’s seasoned with their specially-made sweet and sour sauce.

Butadon with soft-boiled eggs (556 yen) is another popular dish. The delicious combination of meat, rice, and eggs is sure to leave you wanting more. But not to worry, you can upgrade your serving size if you need more to quench your appetite.

Some locations also have an eat-in space, so you can enjoy your meal in the comfort and warmth of the shop itself.

Home-Style Japanese Extra-Large Onigiri

When it comes to classic convenience store food, you can't forget onigiri, or rice balls. As the name suggests, Hot Chef's “Extra-Large Onigiri” (176 yen and up) are jumbo-sized rice balls, made from freshly-prepared rice and rolled into balls one by one, right in the shop. Available fillings include classic salmon and salmon roe, as well as new products as they come along. Savor the warmth of a Japanese home with its simple, homemade taste. But because they’re so fresh, try to avoid storing it in the refrigerator, as the rice may harden. However, if it does, we recommend softening it in some hot water and eating it Ochazuke-style!

Secoma Original Items: More Than Just Hot Chef!

Hokkaido is known as the dairy super-power of Japan, and produces milk that is distributed all over the country. The dairy manufacturing area employed by Seicomart is located in the carefully-selected Toyotomi town of the Dohoku Area. Grasses that grow under the sea breeze of the Sea of Japan are rich in minerals, and the year-round cool climate is a very comfortable environment for raising cattle. The raw milk from free-roaming cattle in this magnificent natural environment has a higher fat content and is richer flavor than other milks.

YOUR SWEETS Hokkaido Milk Custard Choux Pastry (112 yen)

YOUR SWEETS Hokkaido Milk Custard Choux Pastry (112 yen)

YOUR SWEETS Hokkaido Milk Custard Eclair (128 yen)

YOUR SWEETS Hokkaido Milk Custard Eclair (128 yen)

This milk is not only sold, but widely used in many other products, including ice creams such as Secoma Hokkaido Milk Soft Cream, Secoma Hokkaido Milk Monaka, and Hokkaido Creamy Soft, as well as products by YOUR SWEETS such as Hokkaido Milk Custard Choux Pastry, Hokkaido Milk Custard Eclair, Specialty Tiramisu, and Egg Pudding. The same milk is also used in their breads and coffee, amongst other related products. No matter the item, you can fully taste the goodness of each ingredient. Even people who are not too fond of sweets will find these easy to enjoy.

YOUR SWEETS Specialty Tiramisu (112 yen each)

YOUR SWEETS Specialty Tiramisu (112 yen each)

YOUR SWEETS Egg Pudding (150 yen)

YOUR SWEETS Egg Pudding (150 yen)

The Quality of Secoma, Beyond Your Average Convenience Store

Each Seicomart location handles different products, so you may not always find specific items you may be looking for. However, you may sometimes find Secoma branches that all kinds of of local vegetables, and unique items such as famous sweets and souvenirs. Seicomart also accounts for a quarter of Hokkaido's wine retail. So the next time you find yourself on the road, be sure to make a stop at the nearest Secoma, and experience their beyond-average convenience store quality for yourself.

*Sales of certain items may be discontinued.
*Hot Chef may not be available in some locations.
*Product arrangement may vary by location.
*Prices may vary by location.
*Product availability may vary by location.

(Cooperation/supervision) SECOMA Corporation
Text by:minna no kotoba sha