NEWS: Here’s Japan’s most delicious service area food

The food at Japan’s service areas is so good that NEXCO East, the expressway management company for eastern Japan, holds a contest to determine which one has the most tasty lunch. The Grand Prix winner this year was just announced, and it is — drum roll, please — Tomobe Service Area in Ibaraki Prefecture. 

Contrary to rest stops in the US, some of Japan’s service areas are self-sustaining mini-cities. You can make a pit stop, buy souvenirs, eat a hot meal, but the quality of the restrooms, shops and restaurants is the difference between a Yugo and a Lexus. Some of the more heavily visited ones will even have a full-blown arcades, laundromats, lodging, a ferris wheel, or onsen. Taken into context, it’s no surprise that top-notch dining is also available.

According to NEXCO East’s judges, it was Tomobe’s “shugyoku no zō” (collection of gems) set meal that took the top prize. The menu item consisted of a roast beef bowl cooked crispy at low temperatures, a cold appetizer of locally sourced Tsukuba pork and chicken, a soba noodle dish, servings of local Kashima seasonal fruit and Ibaraki vegetables, and apricot tofu. All of this, for just ¥1,500 (about USD $15).

Judges had the enviable job of sampling around 5,000 dishes from across NEXCO East service areas. And if you think the “losers” are any worse, the runner up was Nagahara Service Area’s Sendai beef and duck salad set. However, we know Japanese food isn’t to everyone’s taste. You can get McDonald’s too, but that seems like a waste if you ask us.

Images: NEXCO East

This post is filed under: News and
tagged: , .

3 Responses to NEWS: Here’s Japan’s most delicious service area food

  1. CobaltFire says:

    Having done a fair few road trips in Japan, I love these places. My wife (Japanese) didn’t understand why until she got to see the equivilent in the US, then she couldn’t understand why we would subject ourselves to US road restaurants, etc.

  2. nlpnt says:

    Sounds like it sure beats Roy Rogers on the New York Thruway (what happened to those being anywhere else but rest areas?), but The Common Man at the Hooksett rest area in New Hampshire (the one with the infamous liquor store) is genuinely good, the result of not wanting the new hot-food franchise to go to an out-of-state company.

  3. MikeRL411 says:

    Almost any tourist day bus tour from Tokyo to Mt Fuji or Hakone will stop at a designated rest stop. Without an exception all have very good food stalls [and a few MEH schlock units] just let your nose and eyes be the judge. Going back next year, will give a gourmand [not gourmet] run down if I take this trip again. On our last Hakone excursion my wife and I saw the hotel in Hakone where we spent our honeymoon 55 years ago, but it was off tour and only a glimpse. Might take a tour that actually stops in Hakone for a night and tale a taxi to “our” hotel and see if the Onsen is still in the original location.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *