Support a true Atlanta artisan with these beautiful bento boxes

Two bentos from Sushi Hayakawa: beef donburi (left) and sake ikura don (salmon with salmon roe).
Two bentos from Sushi Hayakawa: beef donburi (left) and sake ikura don (salmon with salmon roe).

Credit: Henri Hollis

Credit: Henri Hollis

Dish of the Week: Bento from Sushi Hayakawa

Chef Atsushi Hayakawa’s attention to detail, along with his insistence on the best ingredients and precise execution, have powered his eponymous restaurant’s rise from an obscure strip-mall sushi joint to a James Beard Award nominee.

As the restaurant industry has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Hayakawa’s unwavering attention to detail is easy to see in both the safety precautions he and his staff take to serve their customers, and in the gorgeous bentos he’s been serving for lunch and dinner.

First, the process: Sushi Hayakawa has used the reservation system Tock for a while, and it is well-suited for the challenges restaurants are facing during the pandemic. Using Tock, customers put in their credit card information, reserve a bento, and agree to be charged if they don’t show up, or cancel their order. This allows the restaurant to plan its ingredient ordering around actual restaurant traffic, so it is less likely to run out of menu items or waste unused ingredients. Sushi Hayakawa’s Tock reservations for bentos are limited, and are released every Monday at noon. They quickly sell out.

The curbside pickup station at Sushi Hayakawa.
The curbside pickup station at Sushi Hayakawa.

When you pick up your food from Sushi Hayakawa, you pull your car up to a table at the front door and call the restaurant. An employee, dressed in protective gear, will walk outside with your food and confirm your order, then leave it on the table and return inside — completely contactless and safe.

The salmon with salmon roe bento from Sushi Hayakawa.
The salmon with salmon roe bento from Sushi Hayakawa.

Credit: Henri Hollis

Credit: Henri Hollis

The bentos are just as precisely crafted. These traditional Japanese boxed meals change each week, and the ones we ordered were beef donburi and sake ikura don (salmon with salmon roe). The sushi bento is pricey, but it’s worth it — $38 bought a feast of perfectly balanced sushi rice; bright, saline salmon roe; and the most velvety, melt-in-your-mouth salmon you could ask for in a takeout lunch. Hayakawa’s bento boxes are a reminder that, even faced with remarkable challenges, enough talent and care can produce an unforgettable dish.

Sushi Hayakawa. 5979 Buford Highway NE, Atlanta. 770-986-0010, sushihayakawa.com.

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