Restaurants

Sydney’s Best Bento Boxes And Where To Find Them

By Tim Piccione
18th Jan 2022

A lunchtime bento box from Raw Bar in Sydney.

Bento boxes may be the ultimate combination of convenience and deliciousness in the culinary world. The compartmented Japanese dish offers a little bit of everything in an easy to take away and effortlessly transportable box, absolutely perfect for lunches in the park. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also partake in eat-in options at restaurants.

Traditionally, a bento lunch box consists of rice and a couple of different proteins, topped off with salad and pickled or cooked vegetables. Much to our delight, you’ll also find them packed with things like gyoza, sushi, sashimi, miso, potato salad, fruit, and more.

Sydney is brimming with incredible Japanese restaurants, so here we’ve rounded up the very best places that offer bento boxes.

Izakaya Masuya

CBD

Izakaya is a popular and informal Japanese cuisine that pairs alcoholic drinks with easy and usually small snack foods. So, you can probably imagine that heading into the CBD’s Izakaya Masuya, with its carefully crafted selection of sake, paired with hot pots, Japanese tapas, udon, sashimi, and plenty of wagyu beef is a damn good time. But pop through for lunch, and you’ll find a great selection of takeaway or eat-in bento boxes with meats like salmon teriyaki, pork katsu, eel, and chicken nanban, with sashimi, sushi, miso, vegetable, and salad sides.

Yachiyo Japanese Bistro

Darlinghurst and Mosman

Sitting at the edge of Glebe is Harada, a modern-style and authentic Japanese restaurant focused on omakase dining. This cuisine leaves the tasting menu choice up to the chef and often changes with produce availability. Pop through chef and owner Yoshinobu Harada’s eatery for specialty yakitori dining paired with Japanese whiskey, sake and beer. For bento lovers, chef Harada also offers rotating, boxed takeaway options that might feature snow crab and salmon caviar rice, brown tiger prawn, wagyu beef, grilled miso salmon, etc. Check online for availability and to pre-order.

Choji Yakiniku

Chatswood

The word yakiniku refers to “grilled meat’ in Japanese–which is exactly what you’ll find a delicious abundance of at Chatswood’s Choji Yakiniku. Alongside dine-in MB9+ plates of wagyu beef and crispy pork belly, you can also order delicious bento to takeaway. Now, this isn’t bento of the traditional criteria. It’s more so delicious Japanese meats and flavours conveniently packaged together for takeaway–but you certainly won’t hear us complain as we order it. Try the popular half & half bento with meat choices like Angus ox tongue, chicken karaage, wagyu, pork belly or teriyaki salmon.

Rengaya Casual Dining

Burwood

From the team behind Rengaya Yakiniku, a North Sydney institution serving up Japanese BBQ since 1993, comes Burwood’s Rengaya Casual Dining. Make sure you come hungry if dining in because the main offering here is an all you can eat fine buffet of yakiniku ($88). That’s two hours of unlimited grilled meats and every wagyu cut under the sun to cook on your own grill, alongside sushi, sashimi, vegetables, tempura, soups, curry and more. But we’re here for the bento takeaway options–which absolutely don’t disappoint. Depending on your hunger levels, you can select from three bento box sizes, ranging from $15 to $39, with sushi and sashimi accompanying the larger offerings. Then all you have to do is select your preferred protein, like beef tongue, wagyu, grilled pork and kimchi, unagi mabushi, salmon teriyaki and chicken karaage.

Jipang

Manly

A stone’s throw from the beach, Jipang has been serving homestyle Japanese cooking since 1993. Located on the Corso, this eatery offers a few lunch specials like ramen or curry with a side of gyoza for just $18, ideal for replenishing post morning swims. But it’s their extensive all-day menu that piques our interest, with a simple bento offering. The eat-in box comes with gyoza, salad, rice and miso soup, with a choice of two mains–like karaage, ebi fry, tempura, sashimi or teriyaki meats.

Miso World Square

CBD

Another casual dining option from premier Sydney Japanese cuisine legends Masuya International, Miso World Square is a must for the hungry and bento inclined. No matter what, make sure you sample their signature pork cutlet tonkatsu–with its perfect and crispy golden flakes of panko breadcrumbs. Settle in for your choice of teishoku, a Japanese set meal with several courses served at once. Or opt for some eat-in bento meals–with popular options like the miso bento, which features said pork, salmon sashimi and soft shell crab or the chicken nanban bento, chock full of Japanese sides, sashimi, nasu miso, and more.

Makoto Bento

Chatswood

Another great addition if you’re doing the Chatswood bento rounds and part of the Masyua International dining group, Makoto Bento sits conveniently on the upper floor of Chatswood Station. Opened in 2014 by Ken Sadamatsu, this restaurant specialises in bento, with a strong focus on healthy eating. While you’ll also find plenty of izakaya, curries, teishoku sets and hot pots, the top of the dinner menu features deluxe bento boxes you’ll have trouble looking past. Try the popular Makoto Bento with tonkatsu pork loin, teriyaki chicken, salmon sashimi, sushi, salad and miso soup. You can also opt for smaller and cheaper bento during lunch with a set for every need, from nanban chicken to chirashi and ginger pork.

Manmaruya

Ashfield, Campsie and Hurstville

Found across three Sydney locations, Manmaruya owner Hideki Goto opened his first Campsie outpost in 2008. Goto and his team offer authentic Japanese dining in a relaxed and casual setting. Alongside plenty of ramen, udon, otumami, and sashimi, you’ll find a killer deluxe bento box menu. As well as more traditional proteins, choose between more unique meats like fish nanban, kamayaki eel, fish tempura, or pork shoga yaki. Add a mini ramen set for $7.50 to accompany.

Yuzu Dining

North Strathfield

Blending centuries of traditional Japanese cuisine with a hint of Western culinary influence, North Strathfield’s Yuzu Dining offers a must-do kaiseki multi-course dinner. With dishes like salmon belly tataki, seafood udon, zucchini flowers, and green tea ice cream making up the tasting menu. It’s on the lunch menu that you’ll find bento options, with deluxe boxes offered with the usual range of classic protein options, rice, miso, salad, gyoza, sushi, and sashimi.

Raw Bar

Bondi

Raw Bar is a bona fide Eastern Suburbs Japanese dining institution. Opening in 1995, the award-winning Bondi restaurant has carved out the perfect beachside spot for itself as an absolutely local’s favourite. Head chef Shintaro Honda’s menu offers an incredible range of sushi, sashimi, tempura, and udon (make sure you try the signature spicy tuna roll) alongside a few bento options. The lunch bento box should definitely hit the spot, with assorted sashimi, inside-out rolls, tempura, teriyaki chicken, miso soup, and gohan.

Oishi-Billi

Milsons Point

Oishi-Billi isn’t your regular takeaway Japanese joint. Opened during Sydney’s lockdowns, the Milsons Point shop looked to fill a gap in the local market, delivering restaurant-quality sushi and sashimi for the at-home experience. The “carousel of nigiri in a box” filled with seasonal fish is definitely a must-try. Lucky for us, they’ve also expanded that concept to bento with their teriyaki salmon bento and their unagi eel bento, both served with vegetables, nigiri, tamago, edamame, pickles and rice. 

Hiroya Japanese Restaurant

Darlinghurst

Darlinghurst’s friendly neighbourhood restaurant Hiroya offers a truly mind-blowing selection of food. The gigantic (no complaints here) menu offers absolutely everything from ramen, udon, curries, burgers, bao buns, and sashimi to tempura, desserts, salads, and every sushi imaginable. Squeezed between that are a few knock-out bento boxes ideal if you’re hungry and looking to try something a little different. Options include teriyaki duck, black pepper wagyu, kimchi pork belly, white fish and sushi or sashimi offerings.  

Still hungry? Check out Sydney's best omakase restaurants

Image credit: Raw Bar

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