(I should preface this by saying that I have no idea how actual Japanese food is supposed to be (and that I know “Japanese food” is a broad category), and there’s some stuff in this meal, like California rolls (which are my favorite sushi), which are definitely not authentic. Other stuff, like tempura and sweet teriyaki sauce, seems questionable, but I’m not sure if it’s authentic.)
So what better way to celebrate my stomach finally starting to go back to normal than going out for dinner with my family? We went to Akira, a lounge, hibachi restaurant, and bistro that I like because it allows you to order bento boxes as dinner, rather than just lunch.
Bento boxes as they’re typically done in the US are probably my favorite way to get Japanese American food, because of the amount of variety you get. You usually get sushi (often a California roll), shrimp and vegetable tempura both, shumai, and your main dish over rice, which will usually be some meat or seafood cooked teriyaki style. In addition, you’ll often get miso soup, a house salad, or both with the order. While this is a lot of food, it means there’s a lot to taste, where you would otherwise have to order each dish individually and stack up the costs, or worry about the server forgetting something. You can always take the teriyaki or main dish home for later (what my mom and I both did with our chicken teriyaki, seen above in the top-right corner of the platter/box). The only things you really can’t take home are the tempura, because it’s fried and reheats badly, and usually the sushi, because the raw fish doesn’t last long.
Our dinner out tonight was…meh. My house salad actually wasn’t bad (I usually don’t like the dressing, but maybe they made it in-house, or just used less of it, or I was just hungrier when I ate the salad).
The miso soup was a little strange. It tasted slightly bland, and when I didn’t stir it for awhile, it separated a bit in the bowl, with the water on top and the miso broth, tofu, and vegetables toward the bottom. I have never seen miso do that before. Still, it’s pretty much the only kind of soup I like, so since it wasn’t terrible I did eat most of the bowl.
I also tried some of my dad’s appetizer, which was the Wild Lover’s Roll. I can’t find a description from the menu online, but I know it had spicy tuna, two sauces, greens, and I believe a little crab, too. I would have liked it without the slow afterburn of the spiciness, very similar to the dry burn of wasabi and horseradish, but I found out that I actually like raw tuna better than I thought.
My bento box was also…meh. The shumai was interesting because I’m used to the little shrimp dumplings getting steamed, and these were fried and had some crispiness to them. Their sauce was a little sweet, though. My tempura was bland, and so was its dipping sauce. My California roll had more greens than crab – or even avocado – and was, again, just a bit bland. My chicken teriyaki was a little dry. Generally, the sauces were a little overly sweet (except for the soy sauce, obviously).
Still, it was a nice surprise, and the right balance of “restaurant food” and “rice with other relatively simple flavors and good ingredients” for my stomach (so far).
(Akira site, original post)