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Japan in a Box

An Oakland catering company brings fresh and delicious into the world of boxed bento


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Aya Brackett

In high school, Sylvan Brackett, now owner of Oakland-based Japanese catering company Peko-Peko, was ahead of his time. “I’d set up a lunch stand and serve homemade pizza, spaghetti, and Japanese beef and potato curry,” says Kyoto-born Brackett of his ill-fated attempt at gourmet street food in his hometown near Nevada City.

Now, all grown up, Brackett has spent more than a decade working in restaurants in Japan, France, and Berkeley, including his most recent stint as Alice Water’s assistant and creative director at Chez Panisse. But his custom bento boxes are what have taken up most of his time in between catering gigs. His stylish creations range from picnic-ready fried pork loin sandwiches, with shredded cabbage and potato salad, to elaborate two-tiered osechi New Year’s boxes, with dried roasted baby sardines, Santa Barbara prawns, and sweet black beans.

“There’s something really appealing about getting a meal that’s pulled together in this way, with something crispy, some kind of starch, and a little bit of sweet, sour, and salty.”

Peko-Peko, (415) 710-3926, eatpekopeko.com.

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