Mini Bento from Tropic Fish & Vegetable in Ward Farmer’s Market – $3.75. This bento includes marinated and grilled Saba (fish), hot dog, tsukemono (pickled vegetables), steamed string beans, daikon and kamaboko. Also pictured is an extra Musubi for 50¢.
The bento or box lunch is one of the most popular take-out meals in the islands. A convenient all-in-one meal to go, usually it includes rice or noodles, vegetables and a single serving or assortment of prepared meat or fish. They’re often prepared in bulk and kept on a table at room temperature for quick sale or in a warmer. Formal bento served in a restaurant are usually presented in a sectioned wood lacquer-finished box. Vacuum formed disposable containers are the most common packaging for take-out. Usually it includes a packette of Shoyu, napkin and chopsticks (hashi). Just add cold beverage and you’re good to go.
Most local supermarkets have a variety to choose from in the deli area. Shirokiya, Daiei and Marukai have the largest selections that I’ve seen. There’s also quite a few small shops and Okazuya’s which specialize in Bento box lunches, such as Tanioka’s Fish Market and K’s Bento-Ya in Waipahu.
The bento pictured above was purchased at Tropic Fish & Vegetable, where I also love their breakfast bento of Portuguese Sausage, scrambled eggs and rice with a slice of Daikon ($2.50). Simple yet so ono! Other bento offerings at Tropic include Yaki Soba ($1.99), Chow Fun ($1.99), Somen Salad ($3.75) and a wide assortment musubi, boiled egg, boiled peanuts and local-style sandwiches. The mama sans work hard in the back preparing them each morning. Between 8-10am is the best time for selection. By noon, most of them are sold out. Anything left over after 3pm gets marked down half price.
The bento always satisfies!