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Published October 24th 2020
A convenient cafe for Japanese snacks
7-Eleven, Family Mart and Lawson in Japan are more than convenience stores. To someone who grew up thinking of 7-Eleven as a bleary-eyed 3am stop in Melbourne for Shapes, Coke and maybe a pastie, convenience stores, or konbiniensu sutoru in Japan are a different experience entirely.
To me, that unknowable, kaleidoscopic world of bento boxes, onigiri, dizzyingly airy and creamy cakes and fried delicacies is a wonderland. It's almost impossible to choose between a perfect egg sandwich, a fruit salad sandwich, a Mochifuwa pancake or some crunchy karaage chicken versus some ramen with the addition of various toppings or crispy tempura under a warmer.
Konbini, in the Railway Station Ramp leading into Adelaide Railway Station, makes the choice easy.
Previously specialising in delicious coffee, onigiri and tarts, the redesigned space now features a small sitting area.
Stepping into the hole-in-the-wall cafe, one is greeted by the menu for the day featuring a katsu sando (sandwich) which is the cafe's specialty, a cup of Japanese fried chicken, or a cheeseburger.
The katsu sando is, much as one would expect, a seasoned pork chop in a sandwich, done well. Panko crumbed and deep-fried, the chop's salty, juicy, umami richness is contrasted with creamy mayonnaise, tangy tonkatsu sauce and crispy shredded cabbage in a crustless slice of thick and pillowy bread.
Some hand cut potato crisps, made translucent, glassy and with a shattering crunch are a welcome component on the side.
If you're passing through the Railway Station between 7am and 3pm on a weekday and have a few minutes to spare, a filling snack at Konbini to-go with their always excellent coffee may hit the spot.