Toronto's secret new Japanese restaurant does bento boxes almost too pretty to eat
Toronto has a secret new Japanese restaurant that only serves 10 bento boxes a day, and not only are they almost too pretty to eat, they're also highly sustainable and seasonal.
Jon Klip staffs the stealthy Instagram account @toronto_bento, through which he sells his intricate creations. The Culinary Institute of America grad is applying his five years of experience mostly making kaiseki at Japanese restaurants in Manhattan and Kyoto to this current pandemic project.
A west-end Toronto boy, he got back from Kyoto in November 2019, just in time for the pandemic.
"The incredibly rich food culture in Japan inspired me to try and build something more meaningful and culturally relevant in Toronto," he tells blogTO.
Bento menus change every two weeks to reflect the change of seasons. Klip's most recent jewelry-box bento cradles octopus, pickled tomato and okra; oyster nitsuke with nori rice and ginger threads; bamboo shoot with daikon and shrimp dashi; and lake trout with baby sweet potato.
These boxes aren't beautiful for nothing, though: Klip's obsession with presentation is born out of an extreme respect for ingredients.
"Although finding good locally produced fruit and vegetables is getting easier and easier in Toronto, the fish scene here is abysmal," he says. "Everything in both retail and wholesale is old, and mishandled, which is such a shame because the fish swimming in our oceans and lakes are fantastic."
So this past June, he started @affinityfish with his business partner Matt Taylor, working with Chippewa fisherman Guy Nadjiwon. They're using the Japanese ikejime method to kill fish humanely while maintaining the quality of the flesh.
The bento boxes sell for $75 each, all orders are taken through Instagram DM and they're available for pickup only at Ossington and Dundas.
Klip says that once the pandemic is over, he hopes to get back to working in restaurants. "My dream is to be part of a richer Canadian food culture."
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