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Lunch, Anyone? Basho Express

Modern Japanese fare for on-the-go diners comes to Warren Towers

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When Dining Services needed to choose a vendor to replace the Subway that had been in Warren Towers, it did extensive research, including student surveys, traffic studies, and focus groups. The result: the new dining location needed to be a quick-service restaurant with a focus on takeout and needed to offer something other than traditional salads and sandwiches, already readily available along Comm Ave’s 700 block. Research showed a high demand for fresh Asian cuisine available to go. So Dining Services partnered with the folks behind Fenway’s Basho Japanese Brasserie, which had already teamed with BU on the popular Basho Sushi in the George Sherman Union three years ago.

The result is Basho Express, which opened last month. The new eatery offers both ready-to-go and made-to-order sushi wraps and bowls and caters to folks looking for a quick, light, and healthy lunch (it’s open for dinner as well).

At noon on a recent Monday the small spot was already crowded. The long line moved quickly, though, and we ordered and got our food faster than expected and found seats at one of the few tables in the sleek space.

Diners at Basho can choose from a variety of predetermined combinations—notably different from those offered at Basho Sushi—or create their own meals. Either way, you have to decide on a wrap, or for $1 more, a bowl. There are also several grab-and-go side and sushi options, although a few, like takoyaki, savory pancake balls filled with octopus ($5.95), and shumai, shrimp dumplings ($5.95), are made to order.

Salmon Tataki Wrap at Basho Sushi Express at Boston University

At Basho Express, items like the salmon tataki wrap offer diners a lighter, but still convenient, alternative to heavy fast food standbys like burritos and burgers.

We started off with a bottle of the popular Japanese bottled beverage Ito En Green Tea ($2.25), a refreshing, palate-cleansing accompaniment to our meal. After gazing over the lunch options, which include a sashimi trio wrap—salmon and tuna sashimi with seafood salad, jalapeño, avocado, cucumber, and wasabi mayo ($12.50)—and kimchee bulgoki—grilled marinated beef, kimchee salad, green leaf lettuce, and a sweet chili sauce ($9.25, wrap, $10.25, bowl), we chose two: the curry tofu bowl ($10.25) and the salmon tataki wrap ($9.25).

The tofu bowl—a mix of golden fried tofu, green leaf lettuce, avocado, cilantro, and curry sauce—comes with white or brown rice. We opted for brown rice ($1 more). The bowl contained a generous amount of delightfully chewy tofu covered with a spicy curry sauce. It balanced well with the creaminess of the avocado, but didn’t mesh quite as well with the fresh lettuce. Cooked greens or other vegetables might have been a better pairing with the thick curry sauce. Overall, however, the vegetarian dish was tasty and filling.

The salmon tataki wrap was filled with crispy shallots, spring mix, mango salsa, and teriyaki sauce, wrapped in nori, or dried seaweed, which provided a nice texture. The nori is a great option for those looking to cut calories or searching for alternatives to flour-based products. We also enjoyed the crunch of the crispy shallots, although we found the wrap itself a bit salty. Next time, we plan to try the backdraft tuna wrap ($9.25), spicy tuna, tempura crunch, kimchee salad, cucumber mix, jalapeño, and sweet chili sauce.

While it’s still working out a few kinks, Basho Express has already become a solid addition to the Charles River Campus lunch scene.

Basho Express, 700 Commonwealth Ave., is open Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday. 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; phone: 617-358-2881. There is no delivery, but takeout is available. It accepts cash, BU convenience points, and all major credit cards. (Note: It does not accept dining points.) 

This is part of a weekly series featuring Boston lunch spots of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the Comment section below.

Kylie Obermeier can be reached at kylieko@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @kyliekobermeier.

3 Comments

3 Comments on Lunch, Anyone? Basho Express

  • Anon on 02.04.2016 at 10:10 am

    Can anyone who’s been there fill me in on whether they sell lo mein/noodles?

    • Anon on 02.04.2016 at 9:12 pm

      They don’t have lo mein. Just sushi, sushi wraps, sushi bowls, and snacks like sriracha popcorn.

  • Michelle Johnson on 02.04.2016 at 10:16 am

    I’ve been here twice but was disappointed each time. It’s expensive and I don’t feel like I’m getting much for my money except a lot of rice. For instance, I got the “crunchy shrimp” bowl yesterday. It came with two puny pieces of shrimp on top of an enormous pile of rice with a smattering of avacado and some unidentifiable other stuff piled on top. A day glow orange sauce smothered the whole thing. I got a drink, but they have no ice. Final tab: $15.46. That’s a lot for what was primarily a bowl of white rice.

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