THE world of bento boxes available for lunch in Canberra could almost be the subject of its own series.
Are you a bento ingénue? Wikipedia explains:
Bento is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento holds rice, fish or meat, with pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container.
Cocorea claims to be a Korean restaurant but it has a sister store on Marcus Clarke with a very similar menu claiming to be Japanese.
Either way it’s North Asian and worth a go. Let’s call it trans East Sea and be done (trans Korea Strait or trans Sea of Japan both seem a little loaded).
$10.90 gets you, after a short wait, a largish black plastic square divided into little tubs all containing tasty things. Today I went for the large bulgogi meal, so one of the tubs was full of grilled marinated beef. But they have many variations, as do all the other places selling bento boxes.
Also included was rice, some cold noodles, some fermented mung beans, a dumpling, one green bean, a tempura battered hash brown (in a manner of speaking), and a large panko crumbed prawn.
Panko is weird stuff. An industrial era food made by passing an electrical arc through dough to make bread without crusts. It’s resistant to absorbing oil which gives it interesting properties in a deep fryer.
I find the trick to enjoying a bento box is to graze between the different offerings of hot, cold, dry, slimy, sweet, and sour.
It’s a great way to luncheon on the cheap.
[This article is the sixth in a series on cheap lunches to be found in and around the city. If you have any suggestions leave them in the comments or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org . The complete series can be found on our cheap lunches tag]