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Restaurant Nisei: Japanese Fine Dining To-Go

What’s up, Nomsters! We’re super excited that we got to try Restaurant Nisei’s amazing bento box the other day! With takeout orders being the new normal, even fine dining restaurants have resorted to offering to-go meals, but not all are created equally. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the restaurants – part of what makes fine dining so good is the freshness of the food and, of course, the incredible presentation of the dishes. For obvious reasons, both of these key pieces are difficult, if not impossible, to execute when you have to throw the meal into a to-go container.

One of the places that actually shines in this respect is Restaurant Nisei! They make these incredible bento boxes where the flavors and textures are so diverse and delicious, plus they somehow manage to keep the presentation pretty much on point except for a few very minor issues from bumps in the car ride home from picking it up.

Kinpira Gobo

The bento box comes with several containers, the first of which is the starter – the kinpira gobo. “Gobo” is burdock root, and “kinpira” refers to the style of preparation where they stir fry the burdock root and carrots in soy sauce and sugar. it had a sweet, slightly acidic taste, and in our opinion it goes really well with rice!

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Restaurant Nisei Bento Box

It’s amazing to see not only how much food Restaurant Nisei managed to cram into this bento box, but also the stunning variety of ingredients they used. What’s even more surprising is how seamlessly all the flavors complimented each other given that every single bite you see has its own unique taste and texture.

Laying on a bed of furikake rice is a teba (chicken wing) yakitori. It was boneless, moist, and skin-on, which a lot of super health nuts might be uncomfortable with, but trust us, it’s SO good!

Next to the yakitori were two shishamo (smelt). It’s the whole fish so you have to be a little careful about the small bones, but they’re cooked to perfection and literally pull apart and melt in your mouth.

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To the other side, we had an ebi katsu with miso.

We won’t get into too much detail here, but next to the rice was an assortment of delicious bite sized pieces of grilled shishito peppers, braised tokyo turnip + ginger, rainbow chard dressed in goma-ae (sesame), umezuke swiss chard stem, charred eggplant, red miso + katsuo bushi, yuzu pickled daikon, nukazuke shiitake, umeboshi, and an inari treasure packet. So how do ALL these pieces fit together so perfectly? It’s either magic, or Chef David Yoshimura and Casey Kusaka seriously know what they’re doing with this bento.

Japanese Roll Cake

To finish things off, the bento comes with a Japanese roll cake with Zuckerman Farm’s Piel de Sapo melon, granola, and mint. Like a lot of Japanese desserts, the flavor and sweetness is very subtle, and the cake and the cream inside are light and fluffy, so it’s a wonderful way to end the meal without it feeling overly heavy.

Chicken Katsu Sando

Having spent a few years in Japan, we can definitely say that katsu sandwiches are one of the greatest snacks ever. You can pick them up at pretty much any convenient store, and they always come on soft white bread with the crusts cut off.

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Restaurant Nisei took this delicious snack and brought it to a whole new level by crafting it with whole organic chicken breast that’s fried to order with cabbage, housemade Japanese pickles, and tonkatsu sauce all on thick slices of Jane the Bakery’s Milk Bread. Seriously, y’all, this sandwich is phenomenal. AND it comes in three parts – I just wasn’t able to hold the third part of the sandwich in one hand for the shot.

Definitely try this spot out! The contents of the bento box are being updated all the time, so there’s always something new to devour if you decide to order more than once. The bento box is $38 and the chicken katsu sando is $15, and both are worth it in our humble opinion.

For more awesome Bay Area recommendations, check out our San Francisco Bay Area Tab HERE

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