Every Friday my gym buddy and I end our session with a meal to recoup our dispensed calories. Our goal, filling and comforting for cheap. Today we made that destination “Manpuku Bento”, knowing we would be in the area on another errand.

The down side, no dine in and it was far too cold to dine outdoors. But once we saw the menu, our hearts were set and we found our selves going in, ordering take out, and waiting in the cold for our order.

The shop is a small corridor. Only permitting room for one. You walk in, choose from their limited menu and order at the counter. For covid precaution sake, they ask you to wait outside. Shame, because there is much to see inside. A collection of premade Japanese sweets from local chefs, and plenty of sauces and sides to customize your meal to come.

The menu is very easy to navigate. Clear to read with plenty of photos, allowing you to let your eyes do the choosing. We got all our favourites below and was not disappointed. Even after devouring it cold. Cold, because I insistent on finding the perfect park for my picnic photo below, only to actually eat in the warmth of my car.

Each order comes with miso soup. Not your standard mix, but an extra savoury and salty broth with plenty of carrot and daikon slices, and onions lingering at the bottom. This was some of the most flavourful miso soup I have ever had.

The Chicken Karaage was declared the best in Vancouver and on earth, (by their own menu). Three large pieces of Japanese style deep fried chicken over rice with a little bit of cabbage slaw and a wedge of lemon. The chicken was surprisingly tasty. We did think it would be good, but was surprised by how good. I just wish it was cut down into smaller pieces for easier eating and sharing. I also would have liked some pickled vegetable or sauce on the side to rejuvenate the taste and add some depth after the first piece.

Although having said that this sort of food is best as one dish in a group, shared so that you can mix and match flavours and not get bored with just eating one item from start to finish.

My guest’s favourite of our three items was the Katsu Don. Pork cutlet, caramelized onion, egg, and their house made donburi sauce over rice. This ate more like a full meal with the sauce and sides I wanted above. The sweet sauce complimented the pork well, it wasn’t too heavy. It and the meat drippings were sopped but by the rice adding to the cohesion of the dish.

I found the Beef curry rice disappointing. It was the sweet sauce I was expecting, but flat. Salt would have helped, but the curry lacked depth. Eating it with the chicken above improved the situation. So if ordering this I advise adding on a pork cutlet or karaage piece.

Overall, for the cost and ease in ordering I can definitely see myself coming back and taking out more to go. Recommended for a quick lunch or for anyone looking for a home cooked-like meal.

Manpuku
288 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T7
(604) 687-0849
manpukubento.com