Convenience chain 7-Eleven might not be at the top of your list of brunch spots, but you probably haven’t been to one in Japan. If you’re imagining a lukewarm hot dog and some tots washed down with a Slurpee, you might have a different impression of the chain after watching Mike Chen of the YouTube series Strictly Dumpling brunch like a champ in Tokyo.
Chen hits the aisles hard in his video, choosing from among a seemingly endless selection of instant ramen and soups and picking up a heap of other treats — dried squid, salmon onigiri, fish cakes, fried chicken, fatty beef, countless buns, a gigantic green tea cookie, a strawberry cream sandwich, and some sort of matcha ice cream burrito. (He decides to pass on the corn dog.)
American fans of 7-Eleven might be surprised to find out that the chain is an even bigger deal in some parts of Asia. Tokyo alone is home to over 2,600 stores (New York City, by comparison, has just over 100), and nearly one-third of all 7-Eleven stores worldwide are in Japan. The chain’s Tokyo-based parent company, Seven & I Holdings Co., is the fifth largest retailer on the planet and even operates a major bank called Seven Bank.
With a 7-Eleven on seemingly every street corner in Tokyo, it’s hard to believe there’s room for competitors, but Chen spends the last half of his video feasting at Lawson, another huge chain in Japan that has wildly outgrown its American roots. Chen picks up mochi rolls, more fried chicken (reportedly, Chen says, some of the tastiest fried chicken around), more buns, an egg sandwich apparently recommended by Anthony Bourdain, and some sort of sparkling grape bubble soda.
Clearly, Chen isn’t counting calories, and we applaud him for absolutely maxing it out. Once he’s back stateside, we’d love to see him compare and contrast his Tokyo experience with some of the most calorie-laden foods on 7-Eleven’s U.S. menu.