Bento boxes offer Asian culinary options for holiday feasts in Vancouver

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      As we race towards all the year-end celebrations, not everyone may be looking for traditional turkey and stuffing fare. Of course in Vancouver, there are plenty of other culinary options—which is particularly something to appreciate during this time period when vacations aren't an option—for dining-in, pickup, or delivery.

      So for those who are searching for some Asian options, here’s a look at a few special seasonal bento and platters—including those that go beyond Japanese cuisine—to keep your household bubble bubbling along over the winter holidays.

      Potluck Hawker Eatery's Nasi Lemak Bento
      Rich Won

      Although bento may be Japanese in origin, many restaurants have been adopting bento, particularly during the pandemic when takeout has been popular. Case-in-point is Potluck Hawker Eatery. There was sad news when the super-popular $200 Potluck Surf and Turf Feast with Singaporean Black Pepper and Whole Fried Coconut Chicken holiday feast extravaganza sold out (even after an extra second round was offered). However, there’s happy news: the eatery is offering Nasi Lemak Bento ($15). These Malaysian-style bento revolve around nasi lemak: coconut rice with caramelized shallot sambal, roasted peanuts, fried baby anchovies, cucumber, boiled egg, and kerupuk (Indonesian crackers) with either popcorn salted egg yolk chicken, green curry prawns, or vegan sambal eggplant. 

      Gyoza Bar's Holiday Platter
      Cody Chan

      To feed your family or close social circle, here's a crowd pleaser. Gyoza Bar’s Holiday Platter ($60) serves four to six people with an array of pan-Asian favourites: spicy pork ribs, chicken katsu sandwich, ebi fry, char siu skewer, crispy vegetable gyoza, Asian slaw, and edamame. 

      Raisu's deluxe seafood bowl

      Bara chirashi is a classic dish that Japanese families often mark special occasions with. Kitsilano’s Raisu goes big with family-sized variations that serve four to six people. The family-size seafood bara chirashi ($71) features seafood cubes atop sushi rice mixed with shiitake and root vegetables while the equivalent unagi bara chirashi ($71) offers unagi (eel) over sushi rice with inure and tobiko (fish roe).

      There’s also the family-sized version of their popular deluxe seafood bowl ($90) with seafood slices, sashimi, cubed seafood, and spot prawns (in lieu of uni, which is sea urchin) spread across sushi rice with shiitake and root vegetables. For those who want variety, the special family-sized version of the À La Carte set ($56) includes the daily chef’s choice of dishes.

      Takenaka's À La Carte Set

      Over in Grandview-Woodland, Takenaka has almost identical offerings with family-sized versions of a special À La Carte set ($56); seafood bara chirashi ($71), with a range of seafood atop sushi rice with root vegetables; and its deluxe seafood bowl ($71), with sashimi, seafood cubes, and more. For uni-lovers, there’s also a DIY temaki kit to consider.

      Orizumé's Holiday Uni Box L

      While we previously mentioned that Orizumé, which specializes in high-end bento and offers hand-roll kits for temaki, it also has four seasonal boxes for those interested in either uni or nigiri. The small Holiday Uni Box ($110) has 130 grams bafun uni from Hokkaido, sushi rice, and nori, while the large version has 250 grams of bafun uni ($180). The Orizumé Nigiri Holiday ($230) presents 48 pieces of nigiri sushi while the Holiday Special Set ($450) offers the same plus two appetizer boxes. 

      Miku's Holiday Kaiseki
      Cody Chan

      To share an elaborate, intimate meal with that special someone, Miku serves a six-course holiday kaiseki (multi-course meal) for dining in. 

      Miku's Holiday Bento

      However, if you want to stay at home, consider the deluxe Holiday Bento for two ($130) consists of four stackable layers:

      • zensai bento with sashimi, crab claw, uzaku (unagi sunomono) with ikura, miso-cured duck breast, prawn cocktail, komochi konbu;
      • shusai bento with AAA filet mignon, Atlantic lobster tail, grilled tako, and roasted vegetables;
      • signature sushi bento, with aburi salmon and ebi oshi, red wave roll, miku Roll, hotate nigiri, toro nigiri, tai nigiri;
      • dessert bento, featuring ginger cardamom cheesecake with mandarin foam, ginger vanilla namelaka, cherry gel, candied orange, crispy pearls.

      Going solo? The multi-tiered Minami Signature Bento ($75) features appetizers such as the obie brazier, aburi sushi, and either AAA butler steak don or kaisen (seafood) don.

      Minami's Holiday Bento Box
      Cody Chan

      However, if you’ve got a household to dine with, Minami’s Holiday Bento Box for four to six people ($250) provides five tiers of culinary cheers:

      • carpaccio tier with aburi beef carpaccio; 
      • holiday zensai tier with ebi fritters, chicken nanban, seasonal goma-ae, and aburi tako;
      • land entree tier with AAA butler steak and chicken ballotine, obie brazier with roasted vegetables;
      • aburi oshi and roll tier with aburi salmon, ebi, and saba oshi, red wave roll, champagne roll;
      • winter desserts tier with green tea opera, black sesame mochi mousse, passion fruit banana tart, and manjari pot de creme.
      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.