Over the last two weeks I had some days off here and there while I was sick. Even now I still have a niggling cough that's hanging around like a visitor that you just want out of your house. Being at home during the week allows you to do things like watch daytime television or notice the amount of young kids you have living near you that love riding (noisily) up and down the street while you're trying to sleep. I know, I sound like a grumpy old curmudgeon and perhaps if I had closed my doors and windows I would have slept in peace, but I like the fresh air.
Another thing that it requires you to do is wonder where your next meal is coming from, considering that you generally don't feel like cooking (or doing much else) while you're sick, and it's not like being at work where I have a multitude of food options available to me once I step outside of the office. Luckily for me as I browsed through Instagram from my sick bed I came across a picture of a yummy looking Japanese bento box accompanied with the information that during the week this particular establishment had a two-for-one promotion on the bento boxes. What?! That was enough to get me out of my pyjamas (and I will honestly admit I spent 3 days straight in pyjamas but rest assured I showered and put on a new pair daily) and heading down the road to get my Japanese fix.
I made my way to JBento in Victoria Park and promptly placed my order for two bentos, one of them being freeeeee. What could be better? I spoke to the nice man working there and asked how long they had been open as I live nearby but hadn't heard of them. That said they do only operate Monday to Friday so that would probably provide a good explanation as to why I didn't know about JBento earlier. He told me that they had been operating for a few months and it looks to me like it's a popular lunch choice for those working nearby and also students. Oh to be a uni student again. Those lazy days which I never appreciated until it was too late.
From the exterior JBento can be quite unassuming as it is located in what was once a house, but inside they've fit it out with funky looking chalkboard tables and cushioned stools. If it should strike your fancy, you can draw on the tables while you wait. It's also very clean inside.
|Help yourself to the green tea!|
I ordered teriyaki salmon and chicken bentos. They come with your usual side of rice (I love the rice topping so much!), a small green salad with sesame dressing, wakame (seaweed) salad, potato salad and a crunchy slice of daikon pickle. I'm a huge fan of wakame salad but I didn't enjoy the potato salad. It's a bit different to your standard 'Western' potato salad - duh, it's Japanese. The salmon was cooked really well, crispy on the outside but still quite tender on the inside. I tried some of the chicken and although I generally don't order teriyaki chicken, the chicken was grilled nicely and not dry. The teriyaki sauce on both was really yummy and had a perfect sweetness to it.
|Super cute packaging!|
The following week I couldn't resist getting another JBento fix and that time I ordered the karaage (fried) chicken and bulgogi beef, which is more Korean than Japanese. Karaage chicken is one of my favourite Japanese dishes to have so I knew I had to try their karaage. Unfortunately, I didn't really enjoy it and compared to other karaage I have had from other places it didn't really measure up. It was lacking a lot of the flavour that you would usually find in karaage chicken - the soy, garlic and ginger. It was more like plain battered chicken than karaage. While there was a lot of chicken, rather than being mostly batter than chicken, I didn't think it had the crunch and taste of other karaage chicken that I've had. The beef was better, the sauce being rich in flavour, and the meat thinly sliced and soft to the bite.
Despite not being happy with their karaage chicken it is still Japanese I would go back for, on the days I may not find myself at work that is! I was still happy with the other dishes and would definitely go back, as well as recommend that you try them out.