Lunch is an important affair, and the Japanese have always mastered the art of it. You can say Bento Boxes are basically lunch boxes but they’ve got so much more to it than just a lunch box. Behind even bento box comes with meticulous attention to detail, carefully curated combo, and an emphasis on fresh quality food. Issho-Ni has said it best, “Bentos are the quintessential essence of Japan encapsulated in a box” and they have launched their very own build-your-own bento lunch concept at their restaurant.
Issho-Ni: The Neighbourhood Japanese Restaurant
Issho-Ni means “together with” in Japanese and is a neighbourhood Izakaya restaurant in the heart of Shoreditch. The restaurant is founded from a keen love for Japanese cuisine. Claire Su, founder of the restaurant, has taken over the spot where her parent used to run a neighbourhood noodle bar to start Issho-Ni. It is a place for people to meet and enjoy good food and atmosphere together.
Arriving at the restaurant, we immediately loved the chic design and the chilled atmosphere. Maybe it was the festive lights but it’s got a cosy vibe to it as well. The lunch menu is available every Wednesday to Friday between 12 to 3.30 pm, with the build-your-own bento box option as well as donburi, maki rolls, and a selection of sides and desserts. Chicken is halal.
The Food: What We Ordered
Build-Your-Own Bento Box (£8)
Essentially, you pick one each from the cold and hot section of the menu and then two sides to make up your own bento box. Our favourite was most definitely the seared butterfish, which had us fighting for the last piece. Dressed in a simple ponzu sauce, it was refreshing to taste and the sauce complemented incredibly well with the buttery melt-in-your-mouth sensation of the butterfish. The other half went with the salmon, which was good as well – featuring thick salmon slices that were soft in texture and got a subtle buttery touch.
For the hot option, we both went with the Chicken Teriyaki. The chicken was generally tender to bite but we felt it needed a stronger glaze and sauce as flavours were rather weak – it’s there but needed more of it. We both also opted for prawn tempura for one of the sides. The tempura was light and crispy, served with a mild tentsuyu sauce.
Last but not least, I had the rice and the other half ordered kimchi for the second side dish option to complete our bento boxes. The fragrant and sticky Japanese rice with sesame toppings had been the perfect carbs to fill up my belly. The kimchi was a lovely pick too, with a sharp piquant edge of flavours and simply refreshing to the palate. All in all, for the quality it offers, £8 is an absolute steal!
Miso Soup (£3)
The bento boxes aside, we also decided to get a miso soup each. The miso soup carried quite a deep flavour, a little more intense than what I’m used to, but nice nonetheless. It’s got silken tofu, seaweed, and spring onions in it – simply wholesome and satisfying.
Veg Gyoza (£5.50)
There are chicken or veg gyozas to choose from and we went with the latter. The gyozas come in five pieces, fried to golden crispiness and served with a dipping sauce on the side. Admittedly, I couldn’t taste much of the veg fillings, but the gyozas were nice regardless.
Genmaicha / Sobacha (£2.90)
Last but not least, I had the Genmaicha while the other half went with the Sobacha. If you’re not familiar with either, Genmaicha is a roasted rice tea whereas Sobacha is a roasted buckwheat tea. Both are nice and soothing to taste. Personally, I wouldn’t mind if the roasted rice flavour could be a bit stronger. But all in all, it’s good quality green tea there.
Issho-Ni is such a lovely neighbourhood gem that, without a doubt, it would become a regular spot if we lived in the area. We would definitely recommend the bento box, which offers great quality food at a very good price. It’s a fantastic lunch option – just easy, casual, and delicious!
Chicken is halal. Pork and alcohol are served at the restaurant.
Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street / Bethnal Green