Konbiniya – Vancouver, BC

Konbiniya Japan Centre
1238 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 682-3634

The Japanese konbini (or shorthand for convenience store) is a marvel in and of itself.  If you’ve ever been to Japan, you’ll know what I’m talking about.  Seven Eleven, FamilyMart, Lawson’s and the like rule the modern day and ultra-convenient corner store market there.  Selling a wide variety of items, not limited to simple fast or packaged food, and providing services as well, they are an all-in-one stop for many urbanites.  Frankly I love them and what they offer puts the North American equivalents to shame…

This is going back a few weeks to when I was downtown with some visitors from the eastern US.  I stopped by this store on the way home, out of curiosity about what new items they might have.   When I lived in Japan, my most favorite section was the drinks.  Always changing, always new and exciting flavors would pop up and I’d strive to try them all.  Maybe its the industrial designer in me too, but I loved examining all the different packaging, materials and containers they would be in.  The ubiquitous PET bottle was always the most popular vessel, but even that had its little quirks and shapely traits.  This one I picked up was one of them, with its slightly wavy contours that made for holding with your fingers feel more natural with its grooves for your finger tips.  Those little details, again I’m a fan.

So what is this?  Well, the name literally translated would be something like “for the oiliness from your food, take this single bottle”.  Essentially it was a tea blend touting the properties of polyphenols, with that distinct bitter tannin-like taste you get with some aged wines, and the major thing that is medically touted is the antioxidant effects.  Don’t expect a sweet tea like so many bastardized green tea drinks I see and have tasted in places like North America and/or Southeast Asia.  This is more an “adult” taste, with its non-sugary, slightly bitter but still smooth tea flavor.  If you believe the marketing, sure go for it.  But I like it just as much as the other more popular green tea or oolong tea products they sell here too.

Scanning the shelves and them slowly making my way to the cash register to pay for my drink and some other items I picked up for home use, I noticed in the cool cabinet, this little caricature.  My beloved purin dessert, could it be?  Yes, and matcha flavor to boot!  The size and shape of the plastic cup and lid looked awfully familiar.  And I wasn’t sure if it was from the source I thought it was and didn’t ask.  Upon further research, I did discover it is indeed from that place.  But that they add this proper sticker label for sale of their goods in this particular store.  Nice!  As an aside, I did make my way to the supplier recently again (future post forthcoming!)…

Lid off.  Folks, don’t eat this from the top down.  You need to shake it out (I actually run some hot water on the outside of the cup to help soften things and use a knife or spoon to separate the top of the custard from the cup around the top rim…

Voila!  That runny caramel sauce at the bottom had infused into the custard, creating that natural ring in the lower portion of it.  Lovely.  The green tea flavor was subtle but there.  Sweet to a nice degree and texturally smooth and soft but not so much that it was a mushy mess.  Again, well done.  Forget how much I paid for it, but imagine there must have been a slight markup than buying it from the original maker.  I still have a few from them in my fridge right now that need consuming over the next little while.  Purin, a nice little sweet dessert and treat for when I’m on Robson.

Konbiniya on Urbanspoon


4 thoughts on “Konbiniya – Vancouver, BC

  1. I hope you don’t mind me saying this but based on the description of the purin, it sounded like a little kid in a toystore! 😀

    Fads and marketing, don’t let me go there… >_<

    Question: did you have the chance to try their crepes?

  2. Interesting…can’t say that I’ve ever tried these prepackaged Purin before. My only experience with Purin comes from a Kaiten-zushi place in Nagoya. I use to overlook these little packages whenever I would pickup a few snacks at the local Kombini after a night of drinking in Japan so I might have to stop by Konbiniya to try these out to see what I’ve been missing.

    I would also recommend trying the crepes next time at Konbiniya. Although a bit pricey, they are delicious.

    On a side note, it’s a shame that Konbiniya shut down their upstairs area containing the karaoke place. Though not the nicest place, I had some good memories up there.

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