Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Review: The Bento Box serves contemporary Japanese food out of a truck
The five-star presentation is fit for fine china, but it tastes just as phenomenal out of a 5-cent cardboard basket.
One of the neat things about what I do is that every now and then, you get a really pleasant surprise you weren’t expecting. Bento Box is one of those unexpected treats life throws your way.
Just what is Bento? Wikipedia says that Bento is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. In other words, it’s a Japanese box lunch. Considering it’s lunch in a box, the white box trailer with Rising Sun Red rays seems apropos. I’m sure there’s a story about the kitty, but we’ll save that for another day.
Bento Box has only been operating a couple of weeks. When I found myself in Fort Worth, I looked up Chef Scott Kaiser and introduced myself. Well, to be fair, I sorta introduced myself since I try to get to know the folks on a new truck before I let them know what I do. Scott runs the truck with the help of his wife and general manager, Brandi Kaiser. Since I am not fluent in Japanese cuisine, Scott was more than happy to take time to explain the dishes and answer any questions. In other words, he lives the mission statement on the website of spreading the love of Japanese cuisine by offering inspired dished which focus on sustainable seafood and fresh local ingredients.
To keep things manageable and assure quick turnaround on the orders, the limited menu features rice bowls, lettuce “tacos,” and sushi rolls. Prices range from $3–$7 except for a cucumber salad offered at $2.
The first thing I ordered was a Spicy Crab Sushi Roll. The Sushi Roll was served whole and the magic happened on top. Spicy crab, chopped scallions, and smelt roe were as pleasing to the eye as the taste was to the palate. The roe (the tiny orange balls) were almost crunchy and slightly briny when you bit into them; they were fun! And what surprised me the most was how light, fresh, and cool the roll tasted. My expectations were exceeded.
Next up was the Shrimp Lettuce "Taco." Isn’t that just exquisite, with the subdued green, brilliant red and contrasting whites? Try the roe by itself to get the full experience. Then fold it up like a taco and take a bite. The lettuce is tender. The roe, cellophane noodles, and thinly sliced scallions provide a little crunch. The shrimp is firm and slightly sweet in contrast to the mildly briny flavors from the roe. And it is all cool, refreshing and totally satisfying. This is a five-star presentation fit for bone white china, but it tastes just as phenomenal out of a 5-cent cardboard basket. It makes you feel special. All I can say about this is WOW … and WOW again!
If you’re looking for something different in Cow Town, Chef and Ambassador of Japanese Cuisine Scott Kaiser will feed you, answer your questions, and do his best to make you another convert. I think maybe I should go back for a second lesson in Japanese cuisine. Now? Can we go now?
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