Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Take-Out Review: Discounted Bentos at Tokyo Central - Costa Mesa

If you stand near the boxed food display case at the Costa Mesa Tokyo Central at around 7 pm, you’ll inevitably hear someone say with disappointment “Oh no! There’s nothing left!” as they approach the dwindling supply. 

7 p.m. is the golden hour here. It’s when the supermarket marks down all remaining inventory of their bentos and sushi boxes with a 20% discount. But by then, you’d be lucky if there’s much to buy other than the sushi hand rolls. 

Most nights, what you see pictured—delicately cooked salmon steaks atop fried rice and served with an immaculately curated array of side dishes—have already disappeared. 

If you’re here for discounted karaage, or actual nigiri and sashimi, forget it. They never make it past the lunch rush. But it speaks to the quality of the food that customers snap them up even before the clearance sale starts. 

These days, I’ve learned that the woman who applies the 20% off stickers actually starts between 6:30 and 6:45 p.m., which is probably why most of the items are gone by 7 p.m. But even then, the pickings are slim. 

Still even if you find that the only things left are those sushi hand rolls, get them. They’re wonderful. 

My favorites are the California roll and the salmon with Sriracha, both packed with flavor I associate with a proper trip to a sushi bar. The best part is that the nori is sealed from the rice so that it retains its crispiness right until you decide to unwrap it and eat.

Tokyo Central
2975 Harbor Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92626