Ask Takako Boyle how her mother in Tokyo feels about the recent launch of her home bento box business and she’ll tell you that she is over the moon.
For two months now, Boyle has been preparing tasty, handcrafted bento boxes in her home-based professional kitchen space.
She uses recipes that her mother taught her. They include her love of pickling and simmering foods for each box made.
Takako arrived from Japan in 2011, eager to learn English. She met her husband and has settled in the South End with her three small children.
After cooking traditional Japanese food for her family and friends, she decided to take it a step further with a professional space that required Public Health Sudbury approval.
“I am trying to make simple Japanese food in a beautiful artisanal way. My goal is to start small and share my love of Japanese food,” she said.
“I also use ‘washoku.’ These are two words put together to mean ‘harmony’ and ‘food to eat.’ I mix a variety of everyday dishes and traditional meals, carefully selected ingredients and homemade ingredients with beautiful presentations. This approach to harmonious food is very important to how I prepare meals,” she said.
Takako has partnered with The Nickel Refillery shop in Sudbury as a location to have orders picked up. Customers can visit the store’s website or her own to see what is on the menu each week. She also does a pop-up at the Farmer’s Market and will deliver orders when time permits.
Orders can be prepared in takeout containers or in a prepaid zero waste reusable Bento Box.
“I can only make 25 bento boxes in a day. It is a labour of love. I have tried making 35 in a day but I lose my attention and focus. I do feel bad when the orders sell out,” she said.
Takako feels that the venture has brought her closer to the Japanese community of Sudbury and beyond. She regularly prepares orders for about 15 Japanese families in the city.
Recently, a 90-year-old man drove from his home in Elliot Lake to meet her and pick up bento boxes. Isamu Eto told her he had not had a traditional Japanese meal in 10 years and asked her to call him “Ojisan,” which means grandfather.
Takako is hopeful that more and more Sudburians will explore bento boxes loaded with beautifully crafted daikon summer radishes, tempura and pumpkin squash balls.
She’s also added sweet treats to her repertoire. Customers can try wagashi, which are mochi rice cakes using fruits and bean paste. Wagashi also comes in the form of a fruit bowl of sorts containing aduki beans, plant-based jellies, black cane sugar and fruits.
“People in Sudbury often tell me that when they think of Japanese food, they only know sushi. There is so much more than sushi and a bento box lets you explore that,” she says.
During the pandemic, Takako says her family ate local food each week to be different. She admits she loves Tucos Tacos and has recently discovered she has a palate for Indian food. She hopes that others are willing to sample her food and try something new.
For more information, or to order from Takako, visit the Kako’s Kitchen website.
Anastasia Rioux is a freelance writer and good food lover in Greater Sudbury. Let’s Eat is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.