The last day that I visited Kokugikan during the recent Natsu honbasho was actually also the first day I had ever had the fortune of sitting in one of the “masu” boxes on the ground floor. It felt appropriate to celebrate the moment by engaging in one of the time-honored sumo and uniquely Japanese experiences: purcashing a proper bento box for lunch and enjoying a meal while watching some feisty lower division matches.
Given that Natsu was the first basho following the promotion of Takakeisho to Ozeki, it was a good moment to explore the Takakeisho bento box. As covered previously on the site, there are bento boxes for sale which contain selections from all of the Ozeki and Yokozuna (as well as some other generic boxes). This also means, that following the demotion of Tochinoshin to Sekiwake before the Natsu basho, that the previously available Tochinoshin bento was no longer available (and presumably, as the man himself resumes Ozeki duties, will be making a return for Nagoya).
The Takakeisho bento included the following:
- Umeboshi rice with black sesame seeds
- Katsu pork with sauce and mustard
- Soy sauce egg hard boiled
- Tempura thing which seemed to be a fish cake
- Broccoli and corn
- Mushrooms (buried under the egg – they really pack a lot of stuff in there)
- Carrot cut into the shape of a flower
At ¥1150, it’s an insane bargain (as much food is at sumo), especially by western standards. The box feels like it would easily be a $20+ package here in the States.
It should be pointed out that if you want to get your hands on one, then you’d better arrive well before Juryo: all of the sekitori bento typically sell out on a normal day at the basho, and the new nature of the Takakeisho box and popularity of its curator meant that his were flying off the shelves quicker than usual. A further pro tip for our readers: if you’re seated on the ground floor and all of the bento have sold out, more may be available in the gift and snack stands on the second floor of Kokugikan.
Takakeisho has done a great job on the whole of choosing very attractive – especially for sumo – and filling ingredients. As a very hearty bento, I actually think it is a box that would be very suitable especially for the Hatsu basho in January.
Let’s get into the taste. The dried marinated fish element is probably better suited to the start of the meal. And if we’re talking tactics, I’d probably eat this from the left, the right then the center.
The broccoli and corn were surprisingly flavorful – moist and incredibly well seasoned, very peppery. These were among the standout items of the dish. Conversely, if I have one complaint, it would be that the rice was somewhat cold and hard, although I don’t know that that can be helped in the bento format. The egg was extremely delicious and a perfect caramel shade.
It was a bit a bit early in the day for me to imbibe when I was eating it, but Takakeisho’s bento would be a very nice accompaniment for any beer. The tempura item was a bit bland, but the mustard packet helped.
Four very generous cuts of katsu were included, and the accompanying sauce was very rich. I recommend using it sparingly.
No wonder Takakeisho came back early from kyujo! if I knew this was at Kokugikan…
Tachiai’s Rating: ⚪️⚪️⚪️⚪️⚫️