Using the traditional bento box formula (rice, protein and vegetables) as a starting point, these 10 restaurants offer their own version of the lunchtime favorite.
The Place: The contemporary restaurant at Gateway Memorial City uses modern Japanese cooking and traditional techniques to create artful plates with unique combinations of textures and flavor. Creative presentations of sashimi, seasonal tapas-style dishes and the lunchtime bento box are as pleasing to the eye as the stomach.
Bento: Choose chicken with wasabi-pepper sauce, grilled snapper or chile prawn. All come with soup (miso or butternut squash miso), wintergreen salad, white rice or elbow pasta and dessert.
Fish & The Knife
The Place: The Briargrove-area restaurant is influenced by Japan, China and New Orleans French-Creole cuisines. On the menu, find everything from sushi to a grilled lamb T-bone and savory chicken and andouille pot pie.
Bento: Choose your soup (miso, crab and Brie bisque or fire pot), salad, tempura (chicken or shrimp), teriyaki (chicken or beef), sushi or sashimi, rice or noodles and a roll. Bonus: the 99-cent martini.
Oishii Japanese Restaurant
The Place: Family-owned Oishii serves sushi, sashimi, salads, and Japanese entrees such as tempura, teriyaki and noodles. Though it specializes in catering and takeout, it’s easy to dine at this quaint, low-key restaurant near Greenway Plaza.
Bento: Choose salmon or chicken teriyaki or shrimp tempura. Lunch also includes miso soup, green salad, a vegetarian egg roll, white rice and a California roll.
The Place: The Galleria restaurant offers diners an inviting ambiance, consistently good service and delectable food.
Bento: Take your pick of soup or salad and a protein (Chilean sea bass, shrimp, beef or pork). We recommend the stuffed pork tenderloin filled with crab stick, asparagus, cream cheese and jalapeño.
The Place: A spin-off of Kubo's Sushi Bar & Grill, the casual restaurant in Sharpstown is known for its long roster of traditional and contemporary Japanese dishes priced at $10 and under.
Bento: Weekdays during lunch you can choose from a handful of bento boxes, each served with salad, white rice and meat. Our usual order is the salmon teriyaki.
The Place: This sushi and Japanese tapas restaurant in Upper Kirby serves a mix of modern and seasonal Japanese fare with a French-fusion twist.
Bento: The box comes with salad, tofu, chicken teriyaki, seaweed salad and a California roll or steamed rice. From there, customize your order with Kobe beef teriyaki, salmon teriyaki, shrimp tempura or sashimi.
Price: Kobe beef teriyaki $15; salmon teriyaki $12; shrimp tempura $12; sashimi $13
The Place: The hot spot on Washington Avenue offers a fresh take on classic Japanese dishes. Grab a seat in the large dining room or at the bar, where crowds bustle during happy hour.
Bento: Three variations include grass-fed yakiniku beef bento with sautéed shiitake mushrooms and onions, served with tofu, miso soup, salad, a three-piece sushi roll and dessert.
The Place: The family-friendly restaurant has been a staple in the Museum District since 1985. Fish are handpicked by the master chef, and sushi chefs happily answer questions about the menu, which includes ramen, sushi, udon, katsu, curry and more.
Bento: Mix-and-match proteins to create your own lunch box. We combined tempura-fried chicken and shrimp with vegetables. Sides include rice, sushi and salad.
The Place: The high-energy vibe, good food and reasonable prices keeps us coming back for more at this Japanese restaurant in Montrose.
Bento: The featured protein of the day rotates, but you can expect the likes of chicken tempura and peppered tuna, plus vegetable tempura, a dumpling and sushi roll. Not to mention, they usually throw in a free ice cream and banana dessert.
The Place: The scene at the spacious, two-story Japanese steakhouse and sushi bar in Jersey Village is usually hopping with a crowd of regulars and newcomers alike.
Bento: The dish comes loaded with soup, green salad, spring roll and crab puff, a California roll, sautéed vegetables, steamed rice and one meaty option like the tonkatsu with crispy, boneless panko-crusted pork loin.