Maybe we’re just predisposed to thinking with our stomachs, but even with all the brightly colored pleated skirts and magical monster battles in Sailor Moon, we always find our attention drawn to the food that shows up in the hit anime series. So when we heard that the official Sailor Jupiter bento boxed lunch is now being offered by a Tokyo cafe, took a break from marathoning episodes of the magical girl saga to go and try it for ourselves.
While Sailor Moon is undeniably the star, the real strength of Sailor Moon is its ensemble cast. Each of the Inner and Outer Sailor Senshi has her own special abilities and appeal, and among those of Sailor Jupiter (known as Makoto or Mako-chan in her ordinary schoolgirl life) is the fact that she’s an expert cook.
Since her parents aren’t around, Makoto has to make her own bento, and her home-cooking looks so good in animated form we were inspired to try reverse engineering it a few months ago. But if you’re not so handy in the kitchen, or simply too busy to cook for yourself, you can still dine on Sailor Jupiter’s boxed lunch by visiting the cafe Ani On Station in Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood.
▼ You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see Sailor Moon herself greeting you.
Ani On Station collaborates with different anime series on a rotating basis, and right now the restaurant is teaming up with Sailor Moon Crystal. As such, there’s a variety of Sailor Senshi-themed food and drink on the menu.
Some fans might have trouble deciding on what to order, but Sailor Jupiter admirer/RocketNews24 Japanese-language correspondent Meg made up her mind in no time and asked the server for the 1,000-yen (US$8.15) Mako-chan’s Obento.
The food was packed in a light green bento box, and the meal looked just like it does in the anime! Among the individual items waiting for Meg were cherry tomatoes, spaghetti, and sausages cut to look like cute little octopi (a boxed lunch staple in Japan). But what really caught her eye were the delicious-looking onigiri (rice balls).
These weren’t just any onigiri, either. Instead of being made with white rice, they were made with takikomigohan, in which various other ingredients and seasonings are tossed into the pot with the rice as it cooks.
Suddenly feeling a bit like the gluttonous Sailor Moon, Meg grabbed one of the onigiri. Don’t let the “boxed lunch” designation fool you, because it’s not like the contents have been sitting out since the morning, either. As Meg held the rice ball in her hands, she found it pleasingly warm.
▼ Warm onigiri, warm smile
Still, Meg made sure not to get her hopes up too high. After all, the main draw here is supposed to be the connection to Sailor Moon, not the actual flavor. It probably tastes just like the takikomigohan rice balls they sell at the convenience store, right?
Nope! As we’ve experienced before, sometimes you can found extremely tasty fare at Japan’s themed cafes, and Mako-chan’s onigiri were fantastic! The rice was seasoned with just the right blend of sugar, soy sauce, and bonito stock, and Meg thought she could detect a trace of cooking sake in the rich flavor. The carrots were colorful and the bamboo shoots just the right texture, but best of all were the pieces of moist, tender chicken.
Moving on to the rest of the bento box’s contents, when watching the anime Meg had assumed that one of the items inside was fried fish. But it turned out that wasn’t the case, as Mako-chan’s actual bento contains something even tastier: shrimp cutlet.
Another hit was the dashimaki tamago, sweet omelet-like fried egg seasoned with fish stock.
▼ Fellow reporter Denuneko also gave it a thumbs up (with her not-pictured left hand).
Aside from the quality, though, there’s one more surprise for customers who order the Mako-chan bento: you get the recipe for the takikomigohan so you can make it yourself!
▼ These Meg-made Mako-chan rice balls only took 20 minutes of prep time (not counting waiting for the rice to cook).
Also on the menu is the 1,000-yen Usagi’s Not-So-Well-Made Rice Omelet, which is purposely made to look a little rough around the edges since Usagi/Sailor Moon’s cooking skills aren’t on the same level as Makoto’s.
▼ But it still gets style points for being shaped like the Crystal Star Compact.
And as for the taste…
▼ No complaints!
And to wash it all down, why not order a Mango Princess Halation or Tuxedo Mask coffee, both priced at 700 yen?
▼ Even the coasters are cool.
And if you still haven’t had your fill of Sailor Moon goodies, Ani On station also has a selection of merchandise from the series for sale.
The Ani On Station/Sailor Moon collaboration runs until September 28.
Ani On Station / アニON STATION
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Kabukicho 1-17-10 Brick Building basement level 1
東京都新宿区歌舞伎町1丁目17-10 ブリックビル B1F
Open Monday 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
[ Read in Japanese ]