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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Adventures in Lunch: The bento box at O-Ku

Fresh but not that fast

Posted by Stephanie Barna on Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 9:18 AM

I've been dogged by O-Ku's lunch deal for a long time. I've seen the ads. I've heard (good) reports, and I finally got a chance to check it out last week. It was a chilly day, so I ordered a pot of green tea to warm myself up as I decided what to order for lunch.

How bout a cup o tea, love?
  • How 'bout a cup o' tea, love?

The $10 bento box comes with a mesclun green salad that's tossed with a light, fresh ginger-carrot vinaigrette, a very different beast from the gloppy, sweet stuff that drowns the iceberg lettuce and tomato wedges at your typical Japanese restaurant (there must be a giant factory making that dressing, which can be found at every Japanese steakhouse from here to Seattle).

A perfectly portioned lunch full of fresh flavors
  • A perfectly portioned lunch full of fresh flavors

A chef's choice sushi roll is also included in the basic bento along with a small pile of glass noodles dressed in a sweet ginger garlic soy sauce. I could've eaten a big bowl of just these and been very happy.

Included in the bento is your choice of chicken teriyaki or tofu with a vegetable roll, or you can pay a little bit more for beef, seafood, sushi, or sashimi. I was in the mood for sushi, so I added five pieces of nigiri for an additional $4.

O-Ku's lunch is a solid choice for the downtown business worker, although it could've been a bit faster. We walked in at 1 p.m. to a sparsely populated restaurant, and it seemed like it took forever to get our lunch. Our pleasant and attentive server did a lot to distract us from the wait, and we were happy to be out of the office enjoying our hot tea, so we weren't too anxious about the slowness of it all.

These days, with burgers and sandwiches hitting $10-$12 (sans chips and fries), finding a well-rounded, healthy lunch for $10 seems like a veritable bargain, particularly when you're dining in such a swanky place as O-Ku. I'm hoping more folks discover this lunch spot, because I don't like eating big greasy lunches, and I'd hate to see O-Ku stop offering my new favorite.

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