Bento boxes have got to be one of my favourite lunches - they're fast, multi-layered and healthy to boot. Zutto Bento in Paddington didn't make it onto the list of Brisbane's best bento boxes a couple of years ago, but that was purely a matter of timing. This little gem only opened last year. However, it's more than worthy of inclusion on this list.
The word 'Zutto' means 'always' which suggests that Zutto Bento takes its bento boxes pretty seriously. I had the sushi and sashimi bento which contained fresh, fat slices of salmon and tuna, salad, takoyaki (balls with minced octopus), delicious Japanese pickles and traditional miso soup. Other bento boxes include karaage chicken, and teriyaki chicken, salmon or tofu.
A simple interior, focussed on food. Author image.
But none of this is to say that you MUST have a bento box at Zutto Bento. The menu here traverses many different types of Japanese food, with standalone sushi, sashimi, nigiri, curry and noodle dishes. Gyoza (pan-fried dumplings), wagyu served on a hot plate and okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes) are also on the menu.
The restaurant's colourful poke bowls are also worth a mention. In case you haven't come across them previously, 'poke' in Hawaiian means 'to slice or cut' and refers to pieces of raw, marinated tuna or other fish served with rice, a selection of vegetables and delicious sauces with that unmistakable umami flavour. Best of all, there's a weekday lunch special from 11am to 3pm where you can choose from a poke bowl, Japanese curry, salmon nigiri set, or chicken katsu udon for $13 when you're purchasing a drink.
The service at Zutto Bento is fast and friendly. Given the Japanese style decor, featuring light wood, and simple, functional design, it's easy to pretend you're actually in Tokyo (or Osaka, Kyoto, or Hokkaido, for that matter). Be sure to drink a toast to your hosts - perhaps Japan's Sapporo beer, or if you're a teetotaller like me there's always cold-pressed juice, kombucha or cold brew Oolong tea.