Friday, 27 March 2009
Bento Box, Kingsway, Holborn (Japanese)
I'd just bought my lunch at Samurai (salmon tempura salad if you're interested) when I ended up wandering aimlessly round Holborn. Suddenly, I came across a place I hadn't seen before - Bento Box on Kingsway.
Bento Box is a takeaway joint along the lines of Samurai or Wasabi, with sushi and Wafu salads as well as hot Japanese food like ramen noodles on offer (though I heard only Cantonese being spoken by staff).
The cold selection was so beautiful and tempting that I decided that I would stick my salad in the office fridge for next day's lunch and buy another lunch here. Other factors in the decision were that I am (a) an idiot, (b) impulsive and (c) a glutton.
Unlike Samurai or Wasabi, you can't buy individual wrapped sushi pieces (though that's probably marginally better for the environment). Instead, they sell most sushi in packs of three for £1.95 which is a brilliant deal considering unagi (kabayaki eel) and tobiko (flying fish roe) are amongst those available.
I plumped for a three-pack of what looked like scallop and tobiko gunkan maki but was more likely to be squid and tobiko given the prices. I also snapped up a pack of their Fusion Sushi for £3.95 which had four beautiful, jewel-like gunkan. Both packs came with soy and gari (pickled ginger).
When I returned to my desk, I stashed the rejected salad and then bullied a colleague into lending me his camera to take pics. Then it was time to try the little beauties.
First the three-pack. YES! I could have punched the air - it was indeed hotate which crowned the gunkan and, by criminy, they were the juiciest, freshest-tasting, morsels ever - and they didn't stint on the number of scallops either. The tobiko was salty, sparky and tasted of the sea, which is exactly how they should be (rather than fishy or sour). The sushi rice was good too and who doesn't love nori?
Next the Fusion Sushi. From left to right (see above), these were tuna mayo topped with lumpfish roe; ebi (king prawn) topped with wasabi tobiko; tuna topped with tobiko; and salmon topped with tobiko. Each also all had a sliver of wakame seaweed on top of the rice.
All four were stunning but bizarrely the tuna mayo was the most toothsome - probably due to the addition of Kewpie Mayonnaise, the umami additive beloved by the Japanese (I also have a bottle at home).
Bento Box is actually an offshoot from Bento Cafe in Camden and has apparently been around for a while - you can also eat in.
To me, it's an extremely welcome addition to the places I haunt for lunch.
020 7242 6567