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Yakisoba noodles with beef, vegetables and sticky rice at Lil Orchid Bento & More. Photo by Jordan Marie McCaw

Bentos and more at Lil Orchid in Medford

Left with too little time to prepare meals or too little money to dine out, some holiday shoppers have discovered Lil Orchid Bentos & More offers fresh and hearty Hawaiian-style bento dishes at reasonable prices.

Specializing in dishes that consist of rice, meat and macaroni salad, the restaurant, situated at 1850 Biddle Road in Medford, is a location that’s been home to several previous eateries. Lil Orchid welcomes diners inside with sweet smells of teriyaki and a simple and clean interior.

Customers can order at the front counter, and meals are called out when ready for pick up. At the counter are bottles of Sriracha, teriyaki sauce and soy sauce that can be taken to the tables along with the food.

The counter staff greeted us with warm smiles and gave us plenty of time to look over the menu posted above the counter. The place wasn’t busy on the windy afternoon we arrived, so we didn’t feel rushed by anyone waiting in line behind us. The restaurant wasn’t empty by any means, however. A few small groups of people enjoyed their lunch in the dining area behind us.

We ordered yakisoba noodles ($7), with beef for an additional $3, teriyaki chicken bento ($8) with a side of sweet potato fries ($2.50). Fries may sound like an odd side to a Hawaiian-style menu, but they were sweet, crunchy and delicious with ketchup. The yakisoba noodles were doused in a sweet and salty sauce and topped with broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and beef and came with a modest mound of white rice on the side. The wheat noodles were soft, and the tender beef was thinly sliced and tender. The vegetables weren’t served in any sauces except for what one might want to add to them. However, the soy sauce on the noodles was enough for the vegetables, as well. Adding a little Sriracha sauce provided just the right kick for the dish. The white rice was sticky and was a perfect side to the beef.

The bento was served with a generous amount of teriyaki chicken covering more than half of the plate, with the other half holding mounds of brown rice and macaroni salad. Perhaps the best part about bento dishes is the tender meat. The teriyaki chicken in this meal was no exception. The marinated meat melted with each bite and tasted even better with the brown rice.

Adding Sriracha to the chicken and a little teriyaki sauce to the rice brought out even more tropical flavors. The macaroni salad was stirred together with generous amounts of mayonnaise and contained crisp, green onions and carrots. The only thing I wished for by the end of the meal was for a second mound of macaroni salad on my plate. I don’t know who cracked the code that a sweet pasta salad is the perfect pairing with tender meat, but Lil Orchid Bentos & More is carrying on the delicious tradition well, and while the brown rice may be healthier, in my opinion white sticky rice is definitely the way to go when it comes to bento.

Something that is well appreciated amongst diners tired of over-sized portions is the satisfying amount served at the eatery. We were pleasantly full by the end of our meal, but not stuffed. For those who prefer heartier portions, the restaurant offers larger dishes, such as the Lunch Plate and the Aloha Plate ($10). The Wrap ($8) also offers more food — filled with swiss cheese, pineapple, mango salsa, a choice of meat, and served with a side of fries.

Kalua Pig is just as tender as the chicken and served shredded and full of sweet teriyaki and soy sauce. Other meat offerings are Katsu (panko-breaded chicken), Maui Wings ($6), and Coconut Shrimp ($7). Oriental Salad ($8) is served with Chinese noodles, toasted almonds and toasted sesame dressing. Adding more rice, macaroni salad or more steamed vegetables is an additional $2. The menu also has bentos for children, and dessert is a choice of Lava Cake or Kona Coffee Ice Cream ($4).

Each bite of macaroni salad and teriyaki chicken shows the pride Lil Orchid Bentos & More takes in itself by offering tasty Hawaiian-style dishes at reasonable prices, making it an ideal destination for those looking for a quick bite during the holiday season.

Lil Orchid is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call 458-226-4010.

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