Bento Box Lunch in New York
Last week, I had the pleasure of dining at Morimoto in New York – run by famed Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. I’m not sure said mom of two from the Boston burbs would ever be hip or chic enough to fit in with the restaurant’s usual dinner crowd, but since I went there for lunch, I blended right in.
I have several reasons for sharing my lunch experience with you. First and foremost was the food. It was simply spectacular. I ordered a Bento Box lunch with miso soup, salad greens with kabosu vinaigrette, vegetable and shrimp tempura, sushi, and roasted black cod. This colorful sampling gave me a real taste for Morimoto’s cuisine (if you ever went to lunch or dinner with me, you would soon discover that I love to have a bite of everything). If you’re not familiar with bento boxes, here’s a short description from epicurious.com:
A thin metal or lacquered wooden box divided into compartments. The bento box is used in Japan for storing separate small dishes that comprise an individual meal (most often lunch). In Japan, the bento lunch, which is commonly available at train stations, represents fast food elevated to high culinary art and design. Each of the country’s 5,000 stations sells a unique box lunch that reflects the cooking of the region. The beautifully designed bento boxes can take on myriad shapes including masks, tennis rackets, nuts, golf balls or other objects both traditional and whimsical. More than twelve million bento-box meals are sold to hungry travelers and commuters in Japan each day.
The second reason for telling you about my meal was what happened after I left the restaurant. As I walked into the adjacent Chelsea Market, I ran into the chef himself! Talk about an unexpected celebrity sighting. While I had the opportunity to tell Morimoto how much I loved the meal, I regret not having my picture taken with him – not because I’m shy but because I didn’t have my camera with me! Oh well…
As a Meal Makeover Mom, the whole fun, small portion bento box thing hit me over the head like a giant wok; it’s perfect if you have a picky eater at home and are looking for creative ways to introduce a broader array of colorful and nutritious foods. After surfing the web, it turns out I’m not the only one who has had that same epiphany. At the blog, Lunch in a Box, Biggie, a mom from San Francisco who formerly lived in Japan, shares an endless number of lunch combinations in the bento box – not just Japanese but Mexican, Thai, and Italian to name just a few. And then there’s Laptop Lunches, a website featuring products, cookbooks, a blog, recipes ideas and more.
I’m amazed how one lunch in New York opened my eyes to a whole new style of eating. Janice and I can’t wait to invest in a few bento boxes of our own. The plastic boxes seem like a natural for packing school lunches, but we also plan to shop around for slightly fancier ones for serving family dinners. If you have any favorites, please share them here on our blog. And certainly, the next time you’re in NYC or happen to be in the neighborhood of Morimoto, I highly suggest you step inside for lunch. The price for a NY restaurant was quite reasonable and the atmosphere warm and welcoming. And hey, you just may have a celebrity sighting of your own while you’re there!