Top 5 Vegetarian Bento Boxes in Mississauga

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Being a strict vegetarian is difficult, especially for a person who loves to eat out. When I ask for a vegetarian meal, I always hope that the restaurant offers an option that is made for vegetarians and not just a substitute of a meat item; after all, if a dish is designed specifically for a meat option, any substitution means an inferior meal. Often, a vegetarian will go to a restaurant and be forced to pick between two or three items, usually butternut squash ravioli, a stuffed squash or deep fried tofu. More often than not, vegetarians will find themselves saying, "that’s not a vegetarian dish - it has fish" or asking, "is the soup base made only of vegetables?" Sometimes, we just have to settle for a heaping plate of French fries. I write this review in the fond hope that one day all restaurants will create a couple unique options for vegetarians. Fortunately for the world, some already do.

If you're a vegetarian in the mood for Japanese or Japanese fusion food, you are luck.

The top five vegetarian bento boxes in Mississauga are:

5. Kura Sushi

If you look Kura up online, you will find a rather modest website with a very simple menu. The same could be said for the the atmosphere; it is clean and plain in appearance. Though the food is also a reflection of the restaurant's focus on basics, the food is definitely noteworthy in taste. The vegetarian bento came with the standard starters - miso soup and a traditional salad - both of which were very well made. Inside the box itself were just a few items: two spring rolls, cucumber rolls, rice and tempura. Each item was delicious, with clear care and attention paid to the creation of the meal. It was a simple delight. Situated very close to Kennedy and Britannia, this restaurant is nestled away amongst many local businesses and is very easy to miss. When you visit, look out for the little sign on the curb to help guide you to this hidden treasure.

4. Axia

Found in the Erin Mills Town Centre area in a complex close to Winston Churchill and Eglinton, Axia is a premier spot for East Asian fusion foods. Axia offers a truly beautiful setting for its patrons. The rooms are spacious and lanterns are hung from the exposed support beams of its high ceilings. The rows of tables are all elegantly dressed with neutral linens; all place settings are delicately laid. Axia also has a "create your own bento box" feature, giving customers - even vegetarians - a fair bit of choice. Much like the decor, great emphasis is placed on the presentation of a meal. The best example of this exceptional presentation would have to be the maki roll that came with my bento; it was vivid in colour and high in contrast, with its bright red peppers, white vermicelli noodles and green avocado on top. The roll had a fresh and tasty summer feel; what's more, it was a roll different from your typical avocado or cucumber options. At the end, I thoroughly enjoyed the green tea ice cream included in the meal. That said, those who wish to dine at Axia are paying a bit more for this picturesque venue: you're looking at minimum of twenty dollars for just one person.

3. Seoul House

Located in a busy complex at Kariya Drive and Enfield, Seoul Hose is an exceptional Korean restaurant with several delicious, cost-effective lunch options. The restaurant itself is very spacious, with many nooks and crannies where patrons can be tucked away to have an intimate dining experience. While mainly known for its Korean barbeque, Seoul House undoubtedly serves its many lunchtime clients well with quickly made bento boxes and takeout meals for its working patrons. Among these lunch options are two vegetarian bento boxes, one roll box and another with an assortment of vegetarian treats. I opted for the more varied box, which included glass noodles, avocado rolls, tempura, gyoza and a salad. I especially appreciated that this location went beyond the standard deep fried tofu, which - although delightful - gets a bit tiring after awhile. If you're in a rush or have ample time for a longer stay, Seoul house is a strong bento choice if you're in central Mississauga.

2. Dai Ichi

It is surprising to find a sushi place in the midst of a rather eclectic strip mall, steps away from an outdoor furniture retailer and a horse race betting site. This strange spot, the small plaza just south of Longos by Winston Churchill and Laird, is exactly where you will find Dai Ichi. That said, it would be a mistake to let the unique location persuade you that this restaurant has little to offer. Far from it, Dai Ichi is arguably amongst the best Japanese restaurants in Mississauga. When you walk into the restaurant, you will see simple booths leading to a small sushi bar, and one wall of closed japanese-styled seating. Despite the basic setup, the food experience is a sheer delight. The veggie bento box came with all the staples (and all cooked very well): miso soup, rice tea, deep fried tofu with teriyaki sauce, rice, veggie tempura and avocado rolls. The service was fast, and the server was attentive. With it's fine quality food, it's no wonder Dai Ichi is seen as a local hot spot for Japanese eats in southwest Mississauga.

1. Masamune

As a fan of Japanese culture and general nerdism, I can appreciate the name "Masamune" which refers to a legendary Japanese swordsmith. So, when I approached Masamune, I had an idea already in my mind that this restaurant had lofty ambitions (although, it's possible I was just reading a lot into the name). When I walked into the restaurant, I mistakenly entered the back door, which ended up being a pleasant surprise because right in front of me was traditional japanese style-seating: a beautifully set table, wooden floors, a step where patrons could place their shoes and an elevated platform for seating with a low square table where patrons will sit crossed legged. Having been to dozens of Japanese restaurants in Mississauga, I can easily say I've never seen anything quite like this anywhere else in the city. Though it took a long time to get to me, the bento box was equally impressive. The perfection of the box is best described in two of its main pieces. First, I appreciated the perfectly battered zucchini tempura, something very hard to do: not too soft at all and cooked all the way through. More importantly, at least to me, the best deep fried tofu of my life, thus far. Situated on Dixie Rd, this spot is definitely worth the reservation no matter where you are in Mississauga.

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