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Less Fat, Still Ono

By Barbara Burke
and Joannie Dobbs

Wednesday, March 8, 2000

Delicious, healthy
food to take out

IMAGINE take-out food that is bursting with color, tastes as good (or better) than a home-cooked meal, and is low in fat and loaded with essential nutrients. No, you're not dreaming. You've just discovered The Well Bento, a small, family-run restaurant near the corner of Beretania and University. Whether you are a vegan, a steak-lover, or someone who simply enjoys fresh, healthy food, this eatery is for you.

Chef Harris Brazina and his wife, Miyuki, divide their menu into two groups: plant-based plates and transitional plates. Plant-based options include a zen macrobiotic bento as well as a variety of tofu, tempeh (nutty-flavored soy bean cake) and seitan (wheat gluten) dishes.

Alternatively, you can choose from grilled chicken, salmon, steak or hamburger steak. All bento plates includes brown rice, broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, gobo (burdock root), red potato, coleslaw, pasta salad, bean salad, and seaweed. The most popular dishes at The Well Bento are probably the Louisiana Style Chicken or Seitan with Cajun Seasonings and the Grilled Salmon with Olive oil and Organic Tamari.

YET, despite the abundance of food on the plate, a typical Well Bento meal contains only 650 to 750 calories and approximately 10 to 15 grams of fat. The calories and fat for the salmon plate come out a little higher, but the dish is rich in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. A smaller quantity of food at a fast food restaurant could easily account for more than 1,000 calories and 50 grams of fat.

Chef Harris is sensitive to the special food needs of individuals, and will make dietary modifications whenever possible. For example, you can request that your bento be prepared with no added oil. Menu items at The Well Bento are made without the use of eggs, refined sugar or dairy products. Care is taken in this spotless kitchen to keep plant- and animal-based cookware separate.

Like any popular restaurant, The Well Bento has its regular customers, including David Littman of Honolulu, who said, "It started about a year and a half ago when I had gotten out of shape. My cholesterol, blood pressure and stress levels were high. I wasn't exercising. I had put on about 60 pounds in the past six years since getting out of college. Then, I met a nutritionist who said if I ate the right foods and exercised, my health would improve. This (The Well Bento food) is like my daily medicine. The food is delicious! I lost 50 pounds, have more energy, and am training for the Ironman competition in Florida."

THE Well Bento is at 2570 South Beretania St., second floor, and is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 pm. You can phone in your take-order ahead for fast pick-up. Walk-in orders generally take about 10 minutes, as everything is cooked fresh to order. Call 941-5261. Free parking is available.

The following Tofu Sour Cream recipe, used in making coleslaw and pasta salad at The Well Bento, is a versatile and flavorful alternative to sour cream. Try adding chopped fresh herbs to this sauce.


From The Well Bento

12-ounce package EACH of Mori Nu firm and soft tofu
1/4 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup brown rice vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil

Approximate nutritional analysis for 1 tablespoon of Tofu Sour Cream: 20 calories, 1.5 g fat, 0.5 g sat fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 50 mg sodium.*

Health Events

Barbara Burke is a Hawaii-Pacific University instructor who has been teaching
and writing about food and nutrition since 1975.

Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S., is a food and nutrition consultant
and owner of Exploring New Concepts, a nutritional consulting firm.
She is also responsible for the nutritional analyses
indicated by an asterisk in this section.

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