May 18, 2022

Toronto’s new secret Japanese restaurant makes bento boxes almost too pretty to eat

Toronto has a new secret Japanese restaurant that only serves 10 bento boxes a day, and not only are they almost too pretty to eat, but they are also very durable and seasonal.

Jon Klip runs the stealthy Instagram account @toronto_bento, through which he sells his intricate designs. The Culinary Institute of America graduate is applying his five years of experience making kaiseki in Japanese restaurants in Manhattan and Kyoto to this current pandemic project.

A boy from western Toronto, he returned from Kyoto in November 2019, just in time for the pandemic.

“Japan’s incredibly rich food culture inspired me to try and create something more meaningful and culturally relevant in Toronto,” he told blogTO.

Bento menus change every two weeks to reflect the change of season. Klip’s newest jewelry box bento rocks octopus, pickled tomato and okra; oyster nitsuke with nori rice and ginger filaments; bamboo shoot with daikon and shrimp dashi; and lake trout with baby sweet potato.

However, these boxes are not beautiful for nothing: Klip’s obsession with presentation was born from an extreme respect for ingredients.

“While it’s getting easier and easier to find good, locally produced fruits and vegetables in Toronto, the fish scene here is appalling,” he says. “Everything in retail and wholesale is old and poorly managed, which is a real shame because the fish that swim in our oceans and lakes are fantastic. “

So, last June, he launched @affinityfish with his business partner Matt Taylor, in collaboration with Chippewa fisherman Guy Nadjiwon. They use the Japanese ikejime method to kill fish humanely while preserving the quality of the flesh.

Bento boxes sell for $ 75 each, all orders are placed through Instagram DM, and they’re available for pickup only in Ossington and Dundas.

Klip says that once the pandemic is over, he hopes to return to work in restaurants. “My dream is to be part of a richer Canadian food culture.