Thinking inside the Bento Box
Like many aspects of Japanese culture, particularly contemporary fads (anime, Hello Kitty, harajuku girls), the bento has become extremely popular here in North America.
A single-portion meal, a Japanese bento typically contains rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables. It’s pretty much on every Japanese restaurant menu or outside billboard (with the more casual places) as a fundamental lunch staple. A little variety of favourites in a partitioned decorative wooden box good for times you’re craving Japanese but you can’t make up your mind exactly what you want to eat, you’re hungry and don’t want to pay a fortune. Usually it’s the expected Western preferences like California roll (boooring), chicken or beef teriyaki over rice, tempura and the tiniest bit of salad. Sometimes miso soup on the side.
Recently I’ve come across some restaurants that offer a bit more creativity to the familiar boxed bento. You can pick and choose your add-ons from a variety of delicacies (usually from looking at photos on the menu). A design your own box lunch. After all Bento (弁当 or べんとう) really means the art of arranging one’s lunch. This is perfect for me.
Anyway, for fun I wanted to share a few of these brilliant or at least cute looking bento boxes and lunch plates. I mean if they can create coffee art, why not this?
Above photos courtesy of Amorette Dye
It brings new meaning to you are what you eat but are you willing to disturb the presentation?