We Tried It: Do Hanai’s bento boxes fit the corporate lunch criteria?

The Hawaiian restaurant on Commercial Drive recently launched a catering and events division

Hanai Vancouver, the latest and only Hawaiian restaurant on Commercial Drive to be recommended by the Michelin Guide, recently launched a new catering and events division called Let’s Kau Kau (“let’s eat” in Hawaiian). We at BCBusiness had the great fortune of trying its corporate bento boxes to see if they do what they’re meant to do: fuel professionals at events and/or offices.  

To do that, the bentos should be healthy, balanced meals that taste good. They should look clean and appetizing, and be filling enough to get back to work but not so filling that we would need a cat nap to recover from lunch. Most importantly, they should be easy to eat.

With those very well-defined criteria in mind, we dug into some bentos that Hanai co-owner Miki Ellis was kind enough to drop off at the office. Here are our thoughts. 

  • Flexibility: The ability to accommodate dietary restrictions is a must for any catering service, especially one serving corporate settings. We particularly appreciated how Hanai prepared soy and pork-free boxes for celiac and Muslim people in the office without compromising on flavour or portion. Win-win! 
  • Compartments: If you don’t like the various ingredients in your lunch touching each other, Hanai is the way to go. In any case, there’s no reason to have to deal with kimchi on your cake at a corporate event. Lunches with compartments (a given for any bento box) are a great way to ensure balanced portion control, clean presentation and easy consumption. 
  • Temperature: The bentos came with sides like dashi potato salad, furikake rice, pickled radish and chocolate mochi cake. Delicious cold or at room temperature, there’s no need to flood the microwave line at lunch time like it’s a washroom at a concert. 
  • Price: This is where Hanai takes a hit. $25 a bento is a high price to pay. Having said that, the ingredients are clearly fresh, healthy and maybe even innovative—the dashi potato salad with green onions had everyone ooh-ing and aah-ing from the first bite. 
  • Quantity: Size matters.There’s nothing worse than spending $25 per person for a corporate lunch and still having to stop by McDonalds on the drive home. In this case, Hanai filled our bellies and hearts with its light and refreshing flavours. Nothing greasy or gassy—the perfect way to close a Friday.  

“We created Let’s Kau Kau because guests have been asking us about our catering services for a while, and we thought it was about time,” said co-owner and chef Tess Bevernage. “Our aim is to offer delicious plates and more for friends, families, and coworkers to celebrate over good food and even more amazing company.” 

Well, they checked off that box for sure.