If 7-Eleven and Mitsuwa sired an offspring, that child would be Famima!! And contrary to what may seem like an overenthusiastic beginning to this post, the exclamation points — both of them — are part of the brand name concocted by FamilyMart, the Japanese company with over fourteen thousand such stores throughout the planet, including about a half dozen already in L.A.
The first Orange County store opened in Fountain Valley last week, hawking onigiri and boxed sushi, “gourmet” sandwiches and curry bowls along with the Icee's (subtitled as Famima!! Freeze) and hot dogs rolling on a weiner treadmill.
But besides that and other convenience store staples like chips, magazines and lottery tickets, Famima!!'s main attraction just might be the wall of Pocky. They've got no less than ten varieties of the beguilingly popular, chocolate-dipped Japanese bread sticks. There's a Pocky for every mood; even Pocky Men's, for those too masculine and macho to eat just regular ol' Pocky.
If Famima!! seems a bit incongruous to what you think a typical convenience store is like, it's because the company's aim is to attract more women and affluent customers, less winos and truck drivers.
But to me, a convenience store is a convenience store. So we skipped all the frou-frou stuff and grabbed a few quick items to eat where most people would eat convenience store foods: in the car.
“The Steamy Pork Buns” ($1.50) we bought had already turned into a soggy mush when we bit into it and the hot dog was just a hot dog (2 for $2.49), but the sesame wings (5 pieces for $2.99) were surprisingly crisp and flavorful, tasting very much like a less greasy version of Yoshinoya's sesame wings.
We washed it down with cola Icee and swigs of Calpico*, a non-carbonated Japanese soft drink that tastes like milk mixed with Squirt (it's actually a lot better than it sounds).
The verdict is still out on how well Famima!! will do here, especially with a Del Taco that still does “3 Tacos for $0.99” on Tuesday nights, a no-name liquor store, and now a newly opened Fresh N Easy across the street.
After all, a convenience store is only convenient to those living within a mile of it. And it remains to be seen whether the neighborhood will be receptive to a gussied-up ampm that sells tofu salad at all hours. Maybe a more apt title would be “Famima??“
9475 Warner Ave., Unit D
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
*We won the drinks as a prize from the give-away game they've set up outside the store during the grand opening.