Konbini is the Japanese word for "convenience store." It comes from the transliteration of "convenience store," which is konbiniensu sutoa. Because that's quite a mouthful, it's been abbreviated to konbini.
Tamagosando (卵サンド), literally means "egg sandwich" in Japanese.
Egg salad sandwiches didn't originate in Japan, but like many foods in the modern Japanese diet, it's a Western dish that's been adapted to suit Japanese tastes. The key differences are:
1. The sandwich is all about the egg, so there are no pickles, celery, or raw onions added.
2. The egg salad is seasoned with Japanese mayonnaise such as Kewpie. Japanese mayo tends to be more tart than American mayo, with a mild sweetness and robust umami that gives it a bit more flavor.
3. The egg salad is sandwiched between two slices of Japanese sandwich bread called Shokupan (食パン). It's fluffier and airier than western loaves, but it has a slightly chewy texture that makes for a nice contrast with the creamy, dense filling.
Like most things in life, the best egg sandwich is going to depend on your personal preferences. FamilyMart has the most well-seasoned sandwich, so I'd recommend it for people who like a lot of seasonings in their food and don't mind if it's a bit salty. 7-Eleven's sandwich includes the most egg, so I'd recommend it for people who want lots of protein with less filler. Lawson's sandwich has more bread than egg, and it's the sweetest of the bunch, so I'd recommend it for people who don't mind the carbs and likes a balance of sweet and savory.
FamilyMart Egg Sandwich
FamilyMart, often abbreviated to Famima, is the second-largest konbini chain in Japan, and unlike the other two (which were acquired by Japanese companies) it's a homegrown convenience store chain. FamilyMart's egg sandwich is the thinnest and cheapest of the three, with the least amount of protein, but over double the amount of sodium of the other two sandwiches.
7-Eleven Egg Sandwich
7-Eleven is the largest convenience store chain in Japan, and their egg salad sandwich reflects their status as it is the largest, heaviest, and most expensive of the bunch, and it comes in at 340 calories.
Lawson Egg Sandwich
Lawson is the third-largest convenience store chain in Japan, and their egg sandwich has the most carbs, thanks to the special bread it uses that's 30% thicker than the other two sandwiches.
Konbini Egg Sandwich Breakdown
Like I said before, best is purely subjective, but here's what I liked and didn't like about each sandwich, broken down:
All three of the sandwiches come in a similar plastic wrapper, but they all have slightly different mechanisms to unwrap them. FamilyMart and 7-Eleven's both involve a 3-step process that I found difficult to open and this is exacerbated by the fact that 7-Eleven's sandwich has so much filling (it was squeezing out all over the place). Lawson uses a brilliant 1-step pull tab that makes it easy to get the sandwich out. WINNER: Lawson
Both the 7-Eleven and FamilyMart egg sandwich is on 1cm thick Japanese sandwich bread that has had the crust cut off. They're pretty unremarkable, but Lawson's egg salad is sandwiched between bread that's 1.3cm thick, and it has a mild sweetness and moist, slightly chewy crumb that's very satisfying. WINNER: Lawson
7-Eleven's egg sandwich has the most filling by far, and it's trailed by FamilyMart, and then Lawson. WINNER: 7-Eleven
The FamilyMart egg sandwich was heavily seasoned and was too salty for my tastes. 7-Eleven's sandwich is the most mildly flavored and had an almost home-made taste. Lawson's sandwich had the most sugar, making it relatively sweet, which I enjoyed. WINNER: 7-Eleven & Lawson
The 7-Eleven sandwich has the most egg flavor, probably because it includes the most egg, but the FamilyMart sandwich included some onion notes, which gave it the most exciting flavor profile. WINNER: FamilyMart
Only the FamilyMart sandwich included chunks of egg yolk in their egg salad, which I enjoyed, but I have to give this to 7-Eleven as it included huge pieces of egg white which gave their sandwich the best texture. WINNER: 7-Eleven
The Best Konbini Egg Sandwich
Each sandwich has its strengths and weaknesses, and it's a tough call naming just one. I liked the flavor of the FamilyMart sandwich, and the bread and packaging of the Lawson egg sandwich, but if I look at the big picture, the sandwich I can see myself buying again is the 7-Eleven sandwich. It's loaded with eggs, which makes it taste a bit like deviled eggs in a sandwich, and with its high protein content and relatively low carb content, it seems like the least unhealthy of the three.
That being said, this test left me confident that I can make a tastier sandwich at home, so here's my recipe the BEST Japanese Egg Sandwich combining some of the best aspects of these three next week!