Thursday, 4 August 2011

Bento Box Battle of the Sexes

By Claire Williams.

There are many situations in life that divide men and women. Some situations crop up every day: arguments (men tend to want to walk away to avoid any confrontation whereas women would rather try and talk it out); going out (when a man says he is ready to go out he is ready to go out immediately, whereas when a woman says she is ready to out it means she just has to find her shoes/jewellery/dress or have another glass of wine); or even basic communication (a man’s scribbled note of apology doesn’t pair well with a woman’s heartfelt sharing of thoughts and feelings over dinner).

The differences between men and women are tenfold. My partner and I argue about all sorts; divided on where to go in the evenings and what colour to paint the new flat, amongst other things (don’t get me started), but most importantly, we argue about what to eat in the evenings. He likes big, wholesome dinners; even in the midst of summer when the sun is still high in the sky when we get home and the only thing I fancy is fruit and bread because I’m too hot and tired to cook. Which is why we were separated in our opinions on the new bar bento boxes at Cicada.

The Cicada restaurant is popular with London visitors to Clerkenwell because of its Pan-Asian cuisine and cocktails. It was the first of Will Ricker’s restaurants (who is, perhaps, arguably more well-known for the Great Eastern Dining Room) and it recently launched a new concept, a ‘bento’ box filled with small portions of Cicada’s signature dishes. We were recently invited to sample these boxes along with two similarly invented cocktails one soporific night. And here’s where the differences between men and women (or perhaps just my boyfriend and I) became apparent (for the first time that day, anyway).

We both sampled the Tori Bento (the meat-eaters bento), a box filled with edamame, soy mirin, vegetable tempura, Vietnamese prawn salad and a Thai green chicken curry with rice, and passed on the vegetarian version, the Yasai Bento (with Vietnamese salad and a lychee and aubergine green curry as substitutes). I tucked into the edamame beans, pulling them one by one out of their pods as we sat chatting to the girl opposite. My partner however dug straight into the Thai green curry, spooning salad onto his fork at the same time and watching as I podded peas next to him.

As I moved onto the salad, he had finished his box and was sitting back in his chair, trying to catch the attention of the waitress for another cocktail. By the time I had eaten all I could, he had gone to the toilet twice and mentioned three times that he was still hungry. Sipping my cocktail (we tried two cocktails that night, a Shanghai freeze vodka cocktail and a Rose Petal Martini gin based cocktail), my boyfriend looked longingly over at the two blokes who sat near us with two frosty lagers whilst simultaneously disagreeing with me (and the girl opposite coincidentally) about which cocktail was the nicer of the two. I preferred the silky smooth Rose Petal Martini whilst he chose the Shanghai Freeze, the fruitier and less alcoholic tasting cocktail.

Perhaps my boyfriend and I just don’t agree on many things. But what we did agree on was that the food at Cicada was great, the cocktails outstanding and the concept of small bar bento boxes worked; but next time he’s agreed he’s going to eat two of them!

To book a table at Cicada simply use the handy widget below.

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