Monday, November 6, 2017

HealthyTokyo Bento Review

The food from HealthyTokyo upon arrival.
A few weeks ago I was contacted by HealthyTokyo, a somewhat new company on the food delivery and lifestyle scene here in Japan, to see if I might be interested in trying one of their frozen organic meals. I'm a big advocate of getting people to eat well, and while I would prefer that people go to farmers markets, sign up for a CSA, or cook using raw ingredients, I well remember my own early forays into such things. Some days, I ordered pizza or invited myself to a friend's house for dinner. I know how it goes, so I decided to give it a whirl.

I chose the Back to School Set - Japanese Obento Lunch Box as the included dishes sounded good.

The Food

Chicken Teriyaki

The Chicken Teriyaki was tender and tasty and cooked up pretty easily. I'm not a big boil-in-the-bag fan as hot plastic freaks me out a bit, but I was pleased with the results. I cooked all of it up in one go as my husband and I shared it, which worked out very well as the portion sizes are generous.

Edamame

The edamame were crisp and good. I added salt so it would better go with my beer (not included in the set but a nice pairing).

Kaboucha salad

The kaboucha (pumpkin) salad, I admit, drew me to this set. I am a huge fan, and it is in season at the moment. It was pleasantly sweet, but the kaboucha was a little bit overcooked. The texture felt more like a kaboucha whip, but it was still tasty with the mix of raisins and walnuts.

Kinpira rice burger with edamame and beer in the background.

The kinpira rice burger was tasty, very tasty and nearly resulted in a spousal battle. We served it the wrong side up, but that had no negative impact on the taste at all. Yum.

Half of the maki roll

The maki roll was really nice, too, and was perfect for sharing. The directions recommend microwaving it, but if I had to do it again, I would take that as optional advice. I think it would be just as satisfying served cold.

Overall Impression
I liked it. It was a nice balance of dishes, ingredients and colors and definitely a nice amount of food for the price.

The presentation, I have to say, was a bit lackluster. It was simply a cardboard box with the food rattling around inside. Call me sentimental, but I wanted a note or a recipe handout or some sort of biodegradable packaging to make it feel less industrial.

Would I buy it?
If I didn't already make much of this myself, there is a good chance I would buy this if I wanted to start investing in eating healthier. The ingredients come from various places - chicken from Brazil, edamame from Taiwan, and the walnuts and raisins from the U.S. - but much of it is from Japan. For people who don't cook much for themselves but who want to give themselves healthier choices, HealthyTokyo is a good place to start.

It is also possible to custom order your bento, which I think could be fun and tasty as they have a nice selection of greens and the staff are very helpful.

Recommendations for Use
I split the bento with my husband, which mostly proved to be just fine as the portions are pretty generous. Single people will find, for example, the Chicken Teriyaki in individual packages nice as they can save some for later.

There were no instructions in English, which was not a huge problem for me, but might prove a bit daunting for others. I double-checked the instructions on the website, which was reasonably straight-forward, but my recommendation would be to plan ahead and have it ready. Nothing was very complicated, but a PDF of the cooking instructions for each included item would be easy to put together for a set like this. I could simply check a box when I order and have it included.

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