There’s nothing more I love than Japanese bento lunch specials. Something about seeing compartments neatly filled with dainty pickled vegetables, crisp tempura pieces, white rice and a protein makes me very happy. I think the fact that you are visually and literally eating a square meal is a very appealing prospect. You don’t need to debate over whether you want noodles or donburi, the bento meal takes care of that by giving you a bit of both! Soba Koh in the East Village offers several lunch prix-fixe choices, including a vegetarian option, ranging from $13-$17 that highlight their handmade, organic buckwheat soba noodles. You know a place is legit when a Japanese soba artisan is meticulously creating fresh noodles by hand throughout the day.
And did I mention they were recommended by the Michelin Guide? On my most recent visit, the restaurant was participating in Japan Week, an event in which different restaurants around the city featured special bento box meals called “ekiben,” which are normally sold in railway stations throughout Japan. Soba Koh’s ekiben consisted of crab meat (kani) and salmon roe over white rice, served with 3 small side dishes and a serving of soba noodles, hot or cold. It’s a light balanced meal that will refuel you with some energy for the latter half of your way.
Check out Saveur.com’s online feature on bento boxes–so many beautiful pictures!