08 March 2013

Bento! #250: Dinner from the nearby bentou-ya

I've seen this place many, many times before. And now, after almost 3 years, is the only time I ever tried to order here. Bentou-ya / 弁当屋 means "bento (lunch box / packed lunch) shop." This is almost the equivalent of the "carenderia" and "turo-turo" (small mom-and-pop or hole-in-the-wall restaurants) in the Philippines.

This exact bentou-ya, more specifically, is ほかほか弁当 / hokahoka bentou, which literally translates to "warm lunch."

6 more photos below!

Of course, there has to be photos. And even a "model" bento. Because here, unlike at their Philippine equivalents, they cook them as you order them. Of course, in the Philippines, there are always customers, so what they do is they cook them all up in the morning to sell for the whole day. Here, they only cook once there is an order. Well, at least for dinner that's what they do. I'd think that during lunch, they have plenty of pre-cooked stuff as well to serve the workers at nearby factories.

Here's their full text-based menu / メニュー / menyuu, if price is more important to you and you're already familiar with stuff they have. Above the menu, you can see written in red, ホットフーズ / hotto fuuzu / hot foods, and then below it, 厚木店 / atsugi ten / Atsugi store/branch.

Here are a couple of their salads. Above, I think, is a renkon sarada / lotus roots salad (or is it a gobou sarada?), and below is a vermicelli noodle salad that they call a Chinese salad / chuuka sarada.

This is my friend's order, mapo nasu / 麻浦茄子 / "mapo" eggplant (a Chinese-style spicy dish -- usually used for tofu as in mapotoufu), with one piece of karaage and some pickled ginger. It's a special dish; it's not on their regular menu.

And here's my order, which is a karaage pirafu bentou / 唐揚ピラフ弁当 / lunch box with rice pilaf and karaage. It was delicious. It was more than 600 yen, and I thought it was expensive (because at the convenience store, a karaage bento is usually just 500 yen), but this was just much more. The karaage is more meat than breading, too. Plus there's 3 sides, not to mention that the pilaf (more like Chinese chao fan to me, though) is so packed with stuff as well. It's really worth it. You would be paying more, but it's also more bang for the buck.

The karaage, by the way, are shaped like balls. Yummy. I'd go back there again just to eat their karaage again. But this just made me more interested in their other offerings.

If you're in Japan, go look for your friendly neighborhood bentou-ya. :)

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