They are similar in many ways, except for what sets them apart from each other.

Ekiben (train station bentos) are a popular meal option for passengers traveling on Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train, but they’re not the only place in the world where you can get a nice meal on the train. According to our Taiwan-based correspondent, Yue Imai, they have them on board Taiwan’s high-speed rail too, and to show how cool they are, she bought one while on the train from Taipei to Tainan.

The bento was sold from an onboard cart, similar to those on Japan’s soon-to-be discontinued Shinkansen trains on October 31. Eating and drinking are prohibited on MRT subways and buses, but food and drinks are permitted on the Taiwan High-Speed ​​Train, where a sales cart sells items such as drinks, sweets, ice cream and bread.

Travelers wishing to make a cart purchase can either ask to see the menu or view the menu online. In August, when Yue was travelling, there were three different types of bento available:

・Taiwanese style pork bento
· Pepper flavored chicken bento
・Vegetarian lunch box with vegetable rolls

All bento types are priced at NT$100 (463 yen (US$3.14)), and when Yui purchased the Taiwanese-style pork bento and a bottle of water (NT$20), it was made in collaboration with the Taiwan High-Speed ​​Rail Corporation and a Japanese painter Kanahi, her bill came to NT$120.

The bright pink bento box contained an illustration of a bear sighting in Taiwan, and had the word “pork” written on it in both English and Japanese (“ポーク”).

▼ Gravity extends to the sides of the box.

The pink colors of the bento were a perfect match to the pink colors of the bottled water, which included an illustration of Bisuke and Usagi, two Kanahi characters, wearing hats like railway employees.

Lifting the bento lid revealed a beautiful array of meats and vegetables, with half a hard-boiled egg on the side and rice underneath it all.

The star of the show was obvious the huge Pork cutletAnd although everything was beautifully designed in a similar way to Japanese bento, there was one thing that made it completely different – It was served warm.

Unlike Japanese ekiben, which is usually sold cold or at room temperature, Taiwanese ekiben is delicious warm, and Yue says this makes it even more delicious. The meat was thick and juicy, with a strong soy sauce-based seasoning that went well with the rice, and the vegetables added color while creating a balanced meal.

If Yui bento has your mouth watering at a bento station in Taiwan, there’s one thing you should keep in mind – they can only be purchased on trains departing from Nangang and Zuoying–Jiucheng stations, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM, which is mainly lunch and dinner times.

You can also buy ekiben from shops inside stations on the line (like the one shown below), where they are sold under the name “High-speed Railway Bento”. However, sales are limited to the same hours only – 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.

So, if you’re traveling on Taiwan’s high-speed rail, be sure to keep an eye on the bento boxes. They will enchant you with their warmth and appeal, just like the curved mailboxes in Taipei.

the pictures © Sora News24
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(Read in Japanese)

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