The beauty of an Asian-style set lunch is that it's like eating at a buffet. As many Asian cultures traditionally serve meals that are accompanied by or consist of numerous small bowls and dishes, it's a chance to taste various types of food at one sitting.
Unlike a self-serve buffet though, everything is arranged on your plate with an eye for detail and presentation.
While there are many Vancouver eateries that offer Asian set meals for dinner, set lunches are not quite as common.
Of course, bento boxes for lunch are plentiful and easy to find.
But if you're searching for something a little fancier and intriguing, here are four places in the West End that offer special lunches fit for special occasions, business lunches, or just a chance to indulge.
While the esteemed Kingyo Izakaya (871 Denman Street) has a monthly lunch special, they also offer an assorted deluxe bento box for $20. But be warned: only 10 boxes of what they call "the king of lunch" are served per day.
Rather than being served in a bento box container, each item is served in a small bowl or plate and presented upon a tray.
The lunch includes chicken karaage, deep-fried pork, marinated salmon, deep-fried oyster, egg roll, salad, rice, miso soup, and more. The portions are petite but the entire tray of offerings is satisfyingly filling.
Kosoo, which amalgamates influences from Korean, Japanese, and French cuisine, is tucked away just off Robson Street at 832 Cardero Street. They offer some lunch boxes as well as a set meal.
The Kosoo lunch boxes, which includes a bowl of salad, house-made pickle, beef or chicken, a Kosoo taco, and matcha crème brûlée, are available with three options: sushi roll ($11), nigiri ($12), or sashimi ($14).
The lunch boxes are available for individual orders, but if you have two or more people who want a set meal, you can consider the Kosoo set course ($15 per person), which is available until 4:30 p.m.
It includes oyster, mushroom salad, bibimbob ball, Kosoo taco, japchae, sweet and spicy assorted sashimi salad, miso-marinated pork belly with salad and pickle, mackerel, beef soy bean paste soup, kimchi, and matcha crème brûlée.
It's amazing value for the price, as the portions are fairly generous.
There's good news for those who can't make it down to the restaurant for lunch: a dinner set course is also on the way this month.
Around the corner, Sura (1518 Robson Street), which draws upon the cuisine of the Korean royal court, offers two lunch sets. Like Kosoo, a minimum of two orders are required and they're offered until 3 p.m.
Set course Su ($15 per person) includes dongchimi (a type of kimchi), tangpyeongchae (a traditional Korean royal court dish), bulgogi, tangsooyuk (sweet and sour), grilled Atlantic croaker, bossam (pork dish), doenjang jjigae (Korean stew), three side dishes, yam mouse, potato pancake, green salad, three side dishes, and Korean rice punch.
Meanwhile, set course Ra ($20 per person) includes several items included in the Su meal: dongchimi, tangpyeongchae, bossam, tangsooyuk, green salad, yam mousse, three side dishes, and Korean rice punch.
But it also includes galbi jjim (braised short ribs), kimchi pancake, jeyuk bulgogi (spicy pork), japchae (sweet-potato noodles), mackerel jorim, and doenjang (bean paste).
The newest edition to the lunch crowd is at Hatzu Japanese Bistro (1175 Davie Street) in the West End.
They've recently launched their Home Plate lunch special for $16.95, served only from Monday to Friday. They only make 20 per day and will change some of the dishes every two weeks.
The tray includes orange sashimi (salmon and tuna with orange with spicy sauce), chashu (four pieces of braised pork belly with house sauce), Japanese steamed egg custard, avocado crab roll, grilled miso sockeye salmon with miso dressing and asparagus, and mini zaru soba (Japanese cold buckwheat noodles), with steamed rice, miso soup, and soba dipping sauce.
Like the others, this one is great value for the price, and is beautifully presented.
Some of the items in the above dishes may be subject to change so it's best to check in with the restaurants, as well as availability. While there may be other lunching options, these places offer enough of a belly-filling, palate-pleasing meal to start with.