By PK, We Live Concepts
Bento is a Japanese cuisine style in which food is prepared in single-portions for take-away. The containers, bento boxes, are usually of box-shaped, and are found ranging from disposable plasticware to hand-crafted lacquerware.
In the effort to create a healthy lunch, and put an end to stuffing food in plastic bags, I wanted to try this Japanese bento-box system. So off to Japan Town I went, on a mission to find a good bento box.
The prices ranged from $3 to $40 per box, the designs ranged from kids to grown-ups. Inside one of the gift shops, I found some very well-crafted bento boxes, and l spotted the one I wanted. However, it was a bit pricy. So as usual, I began asking the store manager a lot of questions about the selection and use of bento boxes before investing in a bento box. Not only did the manager surprise me by showing me how knowledgeable she was about bento boxes, but she also showed me a supplier’s catalog that showcased how the Japanese transformed boxed lunch into an art form.
From talking with her, and through some more research I did later, I learned some basic tips for selecting bento boxes.
Sizes and material
- Bento boxes come in different sizes for different appetites, including ones that are made for sharing lunches.
- High-end bento boxes are lacquered and therefore should be protected from scratches.
- Lacquered bento boxes are best for lunches that can be assembled the night before or in the mornings and later consumed at room temperature. Some lower-end models are microwavable.
- Check for stickers that tell if the bento box is microwave-safe.
Using the bento box
- To minimize shifting when transporting the food, you may line the compartment with lettuce leaves or simply baking cups. They bunch up and fill the gaps between the food.
- One should remove the top cover where the intricate designs are usually found, and microwave only the compartment that needs to be heated.
- Sauces and salad dressings should be stored in condiment containers until right before eating. (such containers can be found online, with department store food storage supplies, or in camping supply stores)
- Hand-washing is recommended, especially for the high-end boxes.
- There are mini lunch chopsticks, forks and spoons in box-sets available also, but I have found carrying a regular fork and spoon, and some extra napkins in a sports water-bottle works well for me too.
- Some bento boxes even have accessory compartments.
At the end, I did buy a nice lacquered-box and a fork-spoon-chopsticks box set to go with it. Later, I also discovered that camping supply stores sold some great tiny condiment containers in their cookware/foodware section…sweet!
Sure enough, I bought the bento box and some accessories I needed and planned on experimenting with it with some recipes.Pin It