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I was recently invited to check out Cafe Japengo, a sushi/Japanese restaurant in La Jolla. They were bringing back bento boxes to their menu and I came in to check those out with my co-worker Lauren in tow. Sadly she’s now my ex co-worker since she left the whole state! This was one of our last lunches together, sniff sniff!
I decided to get a pomegranate green iced tea for my beverage, not realizing it was one of the fancy pants Republic of Tea bottles. I’ve only see tea bags for this stuff before at Cost Plus World Market and fancy gourmet shops. We were obviously in the fancy pants part of town.
Lauren opted for one of their hot teas which came in this adorable little tea pot!
Our waitress was excellent – she kept refilling our drinks (pouring more tea into my glass, pouring more into Lauren’s cup, checking if we needed anything else) and making us feel quite at home, really.
I didn’t even really bother to look at their lunch menu, but spied a few other tables with big trays of sushi.
Bento box, baby! Man, just look at how much stuff there is!
I started out by digging into the simple little green salad before moving onto to try the noodles.
There’s some yummy noodles in the bottom right corner which is an udon noodle stir fry with veggies and teriyaki sauce. It was warm and delicious and I loved the pea pods and carrots included with it. The teriyaki sauce gave it great flavor and it was a tasty little component to the dish.
In the next compartment we have a little bit of fried tempura. I don’t know about you, but I loves me some tempura and this was no exception. There was 1 piece of shrimp, 1 squash and 1 piece of zucchini. The batter was light and gave it a wonderful crispy exterior without being too oily. Honestly, I think this was my favorite thing in the whole bento box! It was really simple but done so well.
Next up – the skewered beef yakitori which is marinated with sweet soy and grilled with garlic black bean sauce. It was perfectly cooked resulting in a juicy, tender and flavorful bit of beef. Very delicious flavor! Who doesn’t like eating things on a stick, right?
Also included in a bento box are 4 pieces of California Roll and a 3 piece sashimi (with tuna, salmon and yellowtail). The California Rolls were pretty good and I actually tried a piece of sashimi though I had to stare at it for awhile first before I worked up enough nerve to try it. I tried the one in front (which I’m guessing is salmon) and it didn’t really taste like anything to me. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
After we left the restaurant, we headed back through the hotel to get back to the car. Apparently we parked in the wrong spot for free parking, or we were supposed to validate and did not, I have no idea what happened. But what I do know is that the in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency they put out chocolate chip cookies, gluten free brownies and cucumber water. Let’s just say that two people had a nice dessert later that afternoon and that they felt justified taking some cookies back to work after having to pay for parking.
Bento boxes = happy, smiling faces. You should totally go get one.
8960 University Center Lane
San Diego, CA 92122
Disclaimer: Our lunch and beverages were complimentary thanks to Chemistry PR. I was not paid for this review and all opinions stated here are my own.