As we all know, during the first lockdown many restaurants had to close their doors, unable to survive with only take-away and home delivery services, others have even opened from scratch and some have decided to change the formula, trying to give a new and temporal course at your service. The latter is the case of Bentoteca, born from the idea of chef Yoji Tokuyoshi.
Chef Tokuyoshi is a celebrity in Milan: after working almost ten years as Massimo Bottura's sous chef at Osteria Francescana, he distinguished himself in the Lombard capital with his namesake restaurant, Tokuyoshi, which in 2016 received a Michelin star. After five years, however, he lost it due to the "formula change": forced to close the restaurant due to Covid-19, he converted it into a Bentoteca in May 2020, not convincing the most important guide in the world.
A hard blow for the chef who, despite adversity, decided to develop this temporary spin-off by designing ad hoc dishes to be consumed at home.
Bento in Japan is the box containing the packed lunch to be consumed at school, at the office, on train or at open air. The versions proposed by chef Tokuyoshi follow the style he proposed at the restaurant, which is an Italian contamination of Japanese cuisine.
In the online menu I found both bento designed for this new formula, and some dishes from the Tokuyoshi restaurant. For this reason I ordered a little bit of everything.
From a restaurant that had a Michelin star I would have expected a more refined and refined packaging, in this case it was really thin and minimal. Inside, however, food was still quite warm, even if the presentation left something to be desired. All quantities were also decidedly sacrificed (the potato salad was smaller than my hand, and I have a small hand) and bento was not served like in Japan, with dividers (however they would have been welcome), but the food it was all arranged together: at a certain point being able to distinguish the flavors was very complicated, also given the considerable amount of different condiments and vegetables inside.
Attached are instructions for heating all the dishes and also how to make the ramen, in case you ordered it.
I very much appreciated the fried sardines, albeit microscopic, whose breading was crunchy and tasty (something that is rarely found in the deliveries that offer fried foods), served with literally a handful of potato salad (whose texture was more like mashed potatoes): it should have had inside the mortadella, but in fact it wasn't there.
The matured Salamanca Black Ox-based sukiyaki bento was perfectly cooked. The recipe also included an egg cooked at a low temperature, inside I found instead a sort of finely cut omelette.
I liked the tonkotsu shoyu ramen, tasty and with well executed noodles, just heating it cost me a disproportionate amount of pots to wash. I was a little disappointed with the egg, I expected it to be soft and marinated like the Japanese one and instead it was at a low temperature (removing the shell was complicated, as it tended to pulp).
Nothing to say about the veal tongue katsusando, really delicious!
Finally I tried the anko yuzu basque cheesecake, simply excellent but finished in a fork and a half! A portion that can hardly be defined as such, perhaps a taste. Here, too, an ingredient was missing: anko not received.
This experience left me with a big question mark. I found a great disorganization in terms of composition and perhaps also of the idea of the dishes. What I am totally sure about is that the price is exorbitant to say the least and does not align at all with the formula offered, only for this reason I would not order it again. What a shame!
📍 Via S. Calocero 3, Milan
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