The round-up: Brisbane’s best bento boxes
Offering almost unparalleled choice and value for money, the traditional bento box is one of the best options for lunch. Brisbane is slowly fostering a bento culture worthy of the meal, with restaurants serving up the popular option from the City to the suburbs. Leave your sandwiches and leftovers at home – bento boxes are the way to go for lunch. If you don’t know where you can grab a bento near you, allow us to blow your mind with this list.
Nagomi: Any search for bento must start with a visit to Nagomi on Eagle Street. This hot spot offers a selection of six bento varieties which all include salad, gyoza, potato salad, cream croquette and edamame, but those after something lighter can opt for a different version where dumplings and fried ingredients are substituted for fresh salad and a larger portion of vegetables.
Kadoya Japanese Restaurant: Over on Mary Street sits a perfectly positioned lunch spot for hungry inner-city workers. Kadoya stocks a huge range of bento to snack on, with just about every popular flavour combination plus some enticing experimental flavours. Pick from options such as steamed dumplings, deep-fried oyster, hamburger, vegetable croquettes and much more – you won’t be left wanting.
Kabuki Teppanyaki Restaurant: Nestled within the Stamford Hotel is a lively teppanyaki restaurant that is perfect for anyone seeking a satisfying inner-city lunch. Kabuki offers bento boxes alongside the flame-grilled options – with flavours including sashimi and sushi sets alongside traditional teriyaki chicken and beef options. Outside sits Kabuki 2 Go, which specialises in quick-service fare, including teriyaki chicken, teriyaki vegetables and tofu, and tempura fish boxes.
Hato Gyoza and Grill: If you can see past the delicious baos and dumplings on offer at Hato Gyoza and Grill on Elizabeth Street, you’ll find the eatery’s signature bento on offer in the Chef’s Specials section of the menu. This feast features assorted tempura bites, yakitori and gyoza, served with udon noodle soup.
Oshin: This Japanese culinary institution has been pumping out bonza bento boxes for years and customers keep coming back because of the quality of flavour. Each box is served with rice, miso soup and a side dish, with stellar mains including the likes of yakitori, sashimi, pork katsu, vegetable korokke, karaage and more.
Izakaya Kotobuki: Sushi Kotobuki’s sophisticated sibling offers up some set menu items that are essentially bento boxes on steroids. Each choice comes with rice, salad, miso soup and edamame, but the mains include teishoku sets of sizzling grilled chicken, vegetable croquette, chicken katsu and crumbed oyster.
Tatsu Yakitori Bar: One of the newest additions to the Chinatown Mall dining scene is Tatsu, a chic Japanese eatery and bar that doubles as a great spot to get your bento fix. From 11:30 am until 2:30 pm, Tatsu serves bento boxes stuffed with the likes of teriyaki chicken, karaage, chicken katsu, pork and ginger, and yakitori. All boxes come with vegetable croquettes, agedashi tofu, Japanese pickles and miso soup.
Sushi & Nori: King Street’s home for sushi and other delicious Japanese bites also serves up a great variety of bento to grab and go. Patrons can grab a sushi bento filled with options such as tiger rolls, salmon sashimi and red salmon, or they can opt for a traditional lunch bento of curry katsudon, teriyaki chicken, spicy yakitori and yakisoba.
Nikuya: Nikuya on McLachlan Street is known to James Street wanderers for its scrumptious bento options, which include a mixed sushi and sashimi box, a dim sim box, kurobuta pork belly katsu skewers and sakana katsu (fish fillets).
Korilla BBQ: Although it specialises in Korean fare, Korilla BBQ in Brisbane City and Fortitude Valley whips up a pretty mean bento offering. In addition to wakame salad, chicken katsu sushi, edamame, vegetable spring rolls, a dumpling and takoyaki, you can also flesh out your choice with the likes of sweet soy beef, teriyaki salmon, crumbed potato, grilled eel and agedashi tofu. Sounds pretty impressive to us.
Motto Motto: The place so nice they named it twice! Motto Motto boasts two locations in Brisbane (Mount Gravatt and Chermside) to get scrumptious Japanese eats, including a particularly luxe bento box. Select your choice of rice bowl and add karaage, miso soup and fried edamame – now you’ve got a lunch to make your friends and co-workers jealous.
Ren Japanese Restaurant: Runcorn’s own Ren Japanese Restaurant is a great spot for authentic Japanese fare, but the bento box is particularly enticing. There are four to choose from, one boasting assorted tempura and teriyaki chicken, another with pork and prawn cutlets and teriyaki chicken, a third with stir-fried yakiniku beef and a fourth with teriyaki salmon and a salmon and avocado roll. Each box comes with assorted sashimi, rice, miso soup and chawanmushi – otherwise known as egg custard.
Bishamon: Bishamon in Spring Hill cooks a mind-boggling array of dishes that make for a delicious and inexpensive lunch. The lunch menu features a range of sets to choose from, including the likes of chicken katsu, yakiniku wagyu beef, tuna sashimi and vegetable croquettes.
Sushi Kotobuki: One of the most popular sushi spots in town, Sushi Kotobuki in East Brisbane is known for its dragon rolls, but the Lytton Road spot also makes a few bento selections offering grilled wagyu beef, grilled salmon, chicken and vegetarian options.
Mizu: Mizu in West End and Teneriffe is a must try for its bento boxes alone – the deluxe boxes are terrific if you feel like splurging. Herbivores are in for a special treat, with the vegetarian box filled with four kinds of veggie tempura, fried tofu, eggplant and zucchini, vegetable gyoza, greens and rice.
Kinsei Japanese Restaurant: Westfield Garden City’s food outlets are a haven for delicious lunchtime fare, but when it comes to bento Kinsei has most of them them beat. Patrons can sit down to a box of bountiful bites including pork shogayaki, salmon sashimi and beef yakiniku.
SONO: SONO Portside is a destination restaurant for anyone looking for quality Japanese fare, including authentic lunch boxes. SONO’s bento boxes are the crème de la crème of bento in Brisbane and as such are priced higher than most, but those who can’t put a price on quality will get a kick out of this meal.
Izakaya Goku: This West End bar and eatery will have you stuffed to the brim with its sizeable bento selection. Each box comes with steamed rice, miso soup, assorted tempura, gyoza, eggplant dengaku, pickles, sashimi or fish nanban zuke and then you can select a main option from choices including slow-cooked beef rib with potatoes, spicy karaage chicken bomb, chicken nanban, slow-cooked pork kakuni and salmon teriyaki.
Izakana-Ya Okuman: South Brisbane boasts its own dynamo destination for bento boxes, with Izakana-Ya Okuman scoring major points thanks to its inexpensive selection. Fancy some ginger fried pork, chicken schnitzel, vegetable tempura or sashimi? Get it in bento form and be glad you did.
Japanese Deli Mazri Kitchen: Sunnybank locals rave about the bento at Japanese Deli Mazri on Mains Road, and for good reason. This spot gives you an almost unparalleled range of choices for your lunch box. Start by picking a main dish, which includes the likes of fried prawns, pork and ginger, mixed tempura and teriyaki beef, then pair it with sides such as spring roll, crab cream croquettes, fried lotus root, salmon and chive omelettes, seaweed salad and more.
Fry Chicken Master: Although Fry Chicken Master in Sunnybank is Taiwanese in focus, its take on the bento box needs to be seen to be believed. Just look at this monster – it’s insane. The Master Bento Boxes come with the likes of pork chops, garlic pork belly, fried Maryland chicken, Taiwanese pork sausage and more. Come hungry – the portions are substantial.
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