Bento boxes will be joining the suite of fast-casual fare at The Gallery this summer.

Supertoro will open as the eighth restaurant in the Third Street Promenade food hall, which reopened two years ago after extensive renovations, K2 Restaurants announced last week. It will offer customizable bento boxes priced between $11 and $17 that feature crispy rice or wonton tacos filled with different seafood, meat and vegetarian options with sushi rolls and salad on the side.

This is the second original restaurant for K2 Restaurants following the opening of Azulé Taqueria last fall. Founder and CEO John Kolaski said the new concept will round out the dining experience at The Gallery, which is home to five fast-casual eateries besides Azulé that offer pizza, Asian-fusion hot dogs, fish sandwiches and healthy lunch bowls.

“After the success of Azulé and seeing locals start to come back to the Promenade and support us there, we thought we could bring more to The Gallery and round out the experience for a family of four or a work group of six people who might want different styles of cuisine, especially something that’s lighter and healthier,” Kolaski said.

Customers will be able to build their own bento boxes with starters like spicy edamame, shishito peppers, creamy rock shrimp or chirashi with ponzu before adding proteins such as spicy tuna and salmon, shrimp, crispy beef, chicken katsu, portobello mushrooms and vegetable tempura as main options. Bento boxes will also include the usual suspects of sushi rolls and salad options such as seaweed, soba, cucumber sunomono and kale caesar.

“The idea is to showcase what we find to be most popular in Japanese cuisine right now with a couple of flavorful items as centerpieces,” Kolaski said. “It will be an elevated and efficient experience.”

Supertoro is the latest entry into a growing collection of Japanese restaurants in Santa Monica. The higher-end Osen Izakaya opened downtown last December and sushi bar Kanpai moved into Mid-City in February. Another izakaya, Shirubē, is opening its first United States location this summer in downtown Santa Monica. On the ramen side, Ippudo Ramen and Silverlake Ramen are both recent arrivals to downtown.

“We’re more focused on the bento box experience and the simplicity of that, taking into account the Japanese style of being able to do more with less,” Kolaski said. “On the whole, we’re going to tend toward more traditional than new Japanese concepts, so we’re not going to be serving sushi burritos or items like that.”

Kolaski has his sights set beyond Santa Monica, however. Supertoro will launch in at least two additional locations by the end of the year, he said.

“This concept has really resonated with a lot of different partners and that’s been extremely exciting for us,” he said.

madeleine@smdp.com

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