In the search for something light to eat after an afternoon of consuming delicious snacks at work, I found a Japanese place called Fresh in the Box in Culver City. Now let’s be realistic, who doesn’t want to get fresh…in a box? And if I told you I was going to some Asian place called Fresh in the Box, you’d probably think I was in for more than just a bite to eat. Yet, there I found myself at a pretty legit Japanese restaurant.
You might be one of those people who thinks “fresh” translates to vegetables and unfortunately that is usually how people interpret it. Thankfully, Fresh in the Box was not one of these places. In their case it meant organic, free-range and all that fun stuff that can often translate into some really tasty meat. Fresh in the Box covered a good range of Japanese food, from curry to sushi to udon and I decided to go with one of my favorites: Chicken Katsu Curry with brown rice. I also ordered some Melon Soda (aka the nectar of the gods) to accompany what I hoped would be a delicious Japanese delight.
When my chicken arrived, I was surprised to find a pile of fried chicken upon my pile of brown pile. I was perfectly fine with the whole “chicken on top” thing they had going on, but it was the chicken itself that had me concerned. The word “katsu” literally means cutlet and these were no cutlet. Instead, the chicken had been chopped up before being breaded and fried, which gave them a whole different look. Sadly, this gave them a different flavor as well. What happened was that while the breading was crispy and delicious, the interior of the chicken was not as juicy and tender as it would be if it had been fried whole as a cutlet. The curry was pretty good, but lacked some heat. They didn’t have different heat options, but the waitress was nice enough to bring me some chili oil to add some kick to my curry.
Was Fresh in the Box good? Yes, it was. Could it have been better? Also yes. You see, Fresh in the Box seemed to do too much. I loved that they kept strictly to Japanese food and didn’t bring in random Korean or Chinese, but they also tried to cover a whole lot of Japanese cuisine (where was the okonomiyaki?). Unfortunately this left my dish (and my buddy’s udon) leaving a bit to be desired. It’s definitely a good, light meal if you need a Japanese fix, but if you are looking for a specific Japanese dish, you may want to make your way to more of a niche restaurant.