Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

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501 Bento Lunches: 501 Unique Recipes for Brilliant Bento is a cute little book (about 6 inches / 15cm square, or the size of a small bento box as you can see from the photo). As the title says, it contains 501 bento box meals within its compact covers. If you’ve been a bento fan for any length of time, you’ll probably recognize many of the bentos in the book from blogs and Flickr pages around the web. There’s a brief recipe (in most cases more of an assembly how-to rather than recipes for individual components) for each bento, plus an introductory chapter with a how-to section and more detailed recipes by Amorette Dye, a.k.a. Sakurako Kitsa, one of the better known charaben artists in the English speaking world.

The bentos featured in 501 Bento Lunches lean rather heavily towards the cute and colorful, though not all are charaben/kyaraben. Pros: While you could spend many hours of internet browsing to see all of these bentos online, it’s nice to have them all in one book. Cons: The photos are in full color, but unfortunately the quality does vary a bit, depending on the skill of the photographer. The font used for the recipes is tiny, and to my eyes hard to read. That coupled with the format of the book, which is like one of the pocket-sized art books that make great little gifts rather than a cookbook, it might be hard to use this as an actual cookbook in the kitchen. However, it can provide hours and hours of colorful inspiration for your future bento creations.

(Full disclosure: I was invited to contribute my bentos to this book, but declined.)

  • Format/Size: Paperback, 288 pages, about 6 inches/15cm square
  • Publisher: Graffito Books
  • Amazon.com link; Amazon UK link (On Amazon UK it’s still called ‘500 Bento Lunches’ - they must have added one before the book went to print.)

The giveaway part!

I’m giving away one copy of 501 Bento Lunches, courtesy of the publisher, Graffito Books - the copy you see in the photo, minus the chopsticks. If you’d like a chance at it, just leave a comment to this post. To make it interesting (because as with all the giveaways around here, I think just a bunch of “please enter me” comments are boring) tell us what your one favorite bento making tool is. Is it an egg mold? Cookie cutter? Favorite knife? If you can link to a photo, all the better!

Deadline: Your comment must be posted here on or before 23:59:59 of Tuesday, July 7th.

Eligibility: Anyone!

The giveaway is now closed. The winner will be announced very shortly! Thank you to all for entering!

For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or by email (more about subscriptions).

And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.

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Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Im in! ^_^

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I don't know much about bento box lunches but have been following your blog for a few months. My husband just had 3 stents put in (2 arteries blocked 99% and 1 90%). So we are trying to make a huge lifestyle change. I am thinking that this way of eating has to be better than the fast foods and fried foods everyone in the US eats.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite bento tool is my metal half-cup measuring cup. When my rice comes out of the rice cooker, I line the cup with plastic wrap (thank you SO much for this method!) fill the cup and twist the wrap tightly. I freeze a bunch of these. They come out of the microwave the *perfect* shape to fit into my bento box with a sprinkle of sesame seeds on top for plain rice, or I put the rice-ball back in the cup, scoop out a bit of center, drop in some tasty filling (tuna with mayo and soy sauce or your yummy bacon furikake are my favorites), replace the plug of rice, twist the wrap again to restore the shape, and it's ready to go. I've made a ton of these!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

ooh fun! I love giveaways and that book looks like the kind my kids would like to look through.
I make bentos for my kids and hubby. My favorite tool for the kids is a set of fondant cutters that make shapes like paper dolls. There is a girl and a boy along with their clothes, hats, and shoes.
I cut a bread doll or shape some rice in it, then use the clothing and face as toppings. The kids love it, the hubby not so much, LOL.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Hmmm. My most used bento accessory is my round onigiri shaper, which I use to make great chicken salad onigiri. But I think my favorite accessories are my nori face punches. Everyone loves a silly face on their rice!!!
Jody

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Cool contest!
My favorite bento tool has to be my silicone muffin cups. While not a food prep tool, it is really helpful in making *bento* lunches, as opposed to merely lunch-in-a-box. I always have a smile on my face when I put vegetable pickles or carrot kinpira in a cup.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite Bento making tool is my smiley face nori punch! Brightens up any day:
http://www.ecrater.com/product.php?pid=2926672

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Heh, no chance of anyone one seeing this ^^;. But hmm... fave bento making tool has to be my plastic fruit cups. Recycled from the fruit cups, I use these things for fruit, mini pancakes, anything I want to keep seperated for any reason. Second place would have to be the rubber bands I use to keep my eatting utencils attached to my bento so I don't have to go digging into my bag for them. ^^

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Hmm my favorite tool with bento making... I guess that would have to be the 20cm pan I use for most of the frying and so on.

Tefal Bienvenue 20 cm FryPan

Making tamagoyaki with it is really nice and easy ;)

Thanks for another contest ;)

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

DOH. I should have finished reading! well honestly I do not have a bento box yet! but I will be buying one soon. I guess I do not deserve it as much as you pro bento makers but I am really excited to start doing this!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite bento tool is a cookie cutter! :) Easy to use and cute!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I tend to make my bento boxes quite simple. A couple of pickled vegetables (aubergines, cucumber), rice, an umebushi pickled plum and wilted spinach with a dash of soy sauce. So please enter me as your book would bring me some inspiration. Thank you, Nic

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Argh! Too hard to pick one thing! My favourite bento lunch tool would be my Zojirushi neuro-fuzzy rice cooker - I couldn't live without it! After the rice cooker, it would be my ultra-sharp santoku knife, my scanpan small frying pan that is such a breeze to clean, and then into the dedicated bento gear - rice molds, boxes, wraps, chopsticks and cutters - everything to brighten up a dreary work day! :-) And of course - my bento-supervisor - Gingy!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I'd have to say I've never made my own bento meal before. Well, I've packed stuff into a million little plastic tupperware but I've never put the effort to make it aesthetically appealing. You must have a lot of patience!! I'm never sure how they are done anyway. There's an art to it, right?
= ]

I'm usually one to eat the bentos versus one to make them.
I would love to join the giveaway though. *wave* Please and thank you.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite bento tool would have to be my collection of silicone cups. It's amazing the way their bright colors just light up my lunches.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

BENTO what is that, i have no idea what a bento box lunch is all about and the dishes you mentioned in your post, i have never heard about them,Also am learning Japanese for past 6 months but i have never heard about this term till now, I must mention i am a big foodie but i have no idea what you talking about so i think the best way out is, you send me that book, i'll read it and make whatever is inside it and will invite you on lunch!!!
What an IDEA right??

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I'm in, too:

My fave tool is probably my flower, heart, bunny, chickie shaped onigir molds... that makes me want to make onigiri on a daily basis haha

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Sounds like a lovely book. I really enjoy some of the very creative people who post on Flickr.

As for favorite tool? I haven't been able to make many bentos, but I really like using my "egg" slicer when I do. It's great for cutting and dicing all kinds of things. Makes it so easy.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

hello! I'd have to say my favorite bento is my trusty little chopping knife. Being a student, it was one of the only things i really spent some money on!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I wanted that book since it popped up on amazon.de, but they simply don't have it. I preorded it, but the order got cancelled since they apparently never even got any.

I guess my favourite tool are chopsticks. I prefer to do easy bentos without a lot of cutely shaped stuff, so I don't need uncommon tools. But chopsticks are really practical for stirring and flipping stuff in the pan and for arranging it nicely into the box.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Hello,

I've heard a lot about this book but I never got to see how it is. Anyway, I don't have a lot of tools devoted to bentomaking (no accessories here...) so I'd say that my muffin molds are my favorite tool at the moment. I use them a lot to divide my dishes, but also to put some mayo in my bentos (don't have mayo containers neither). But if I could have a new one, I'd go for the sandwich maker, I'd really like to try it out !

Thanks for the review and the giveway :).

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

my favorite tool for bento making: onigiri molds! they can make otherwise plain lunches look like you put more effort into them, even leftovers. ^_^

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My aspic cutters! A tin full of tiny cookie cutters - 10 shapes, at least.

I wish I could find a channel knife I liked half as much.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I just bought 2 boiled egg moulds - a star and a heart, so they are my current favourite.
I am still trying to master the art of making a nice looking heart egg! My son told me it looked like a bum!

Kyla

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite tools for packing bento - my imagination & my hands. I haven't done many charaben bentos, (that's next on my list) but I do enjoy making my food fun to look at. Egg smiley faces, Tomatoe catepillar, Rice bunnies & cheese stars - all done free hand.

Thank you for the wonderful giveaway & maintaining this VERY informative blog.

I have tried to order this book like 5 times. Each time the order has been canceled for some unknown reason. Twice from amazon, once from BAMM, and two more times from Barnes & Noble.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Oh Maki.. it is really hard to leave your giveaways pass by ... (tho I didn´t take part on your last ones :)) . So friendly from you to do such!
Well.. I don´t make obentos so often as I wanted. My girls don´t need it yet, neither hubby.. so, occasions when I make then are resumed to picnics or when I want to pamper my family (and myself ^_^)
Using bento tools at home are extended to presentation on normal plates too. It is fun , delights my daughters and they really like when their food is "pimped out".
Favorite ones: cookie cutters, picks, nice boxes and my head :)

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Hmm my favorite tool with bento making... I guess that would have to be the 20cm pan I use for most of the frying and so on.

Tefal Bienvenue 20 cm FryPan

Making tamagoyaki with it is really nice and easy ;)

Thanks for another contest ;)

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favourite tool would have to be a sharp paring knife. Helps making the interesting shapes that little bit easier.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Ooh, can't resist a giveaway!

My favourite tool is my set of Hello Kitty boxes which I use for my daughter's lunches.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My veggie cutters and sauce bottles...and my cute little food cups and picks. I love all my little Bento gear!!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Hewo!!

My favorite tool for the actual making of a bento would be Saran/Plastic Wrap. I use it to make maki-sushi neatly, and particularly for figuring out how to make onigiri neatly. It also helps keep the freshness in, preventing drying out later.

You may, or may not, be familiar with the Store bought onigiri http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/37/Onigiri_Bought_at_a_C...
. But, I'm trying to make my own version from Plastic Wrap (Yes, not very original...but I'm trying to perfect it for convenience's sake, travel, and for Otakon '09). It's involving a lot of folding of sticky plastic, lol.

Thank you!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Count me in! :P

I'd say my favorite tool would be my onigiri mould, as it allows me to make lots of cheap lunch for myself, which is a big plus, being a student and all

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favourite bento-making tool would be.... my bento container itself, I guess. It's a blue "Lube Sheep" that a friend brought back from Japan, and at first I thought it was too tiny to use! (I'm used to big North American tupperware leftovers, I guess.) It never looks like enough food to me, so it forces me to think carefully about my ingredients... is there enough protein? Enough vegetables? Where do I put the sweet? And if I do think about it carefully, it is just enough food. Imagine that.

My bentos are usually very utilitarian, which is why I don't post them, but I love looking at the ones everyone else sends in! They are like food sculptures.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Would love to be entered. As for my favorite tool - I am still a newbie at making bentos :)

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Favourite tool is a tough one. I like my cookie cutters because the help make the ordinarily look special easily. But I also really like my onigri molds because I've had zero luck making them by hand and they look so great coming out or the mold.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite "tool" is...a pair of chopsticks! I love switching it up from day to day.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favourite has to be my cookie cutter, but as a newbie that's pretty much all I have.. I've ordered some more moulds and things off the internet so we shall have to see how they are when they arrive :)

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Totally brand new to the Bento world, but my 12 year old foodie daughter and I quite enjoy looking at them! Since I don't have any Bento tools, I will have to say that my "favorite" will be the cute Bento box I get . . . someday :)

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I've been subscribed to your bento blog for almost two years now, and you've really helped me get started in bento-ing! I love the pics and variety you have, and have started my own bento collection. My favorite bento tool would have to be my egg molds - as I eat eggs quite a bit even without making a bento lunch. I have several of the molds, and am always looking out for new ones.

Thank you for the notification that Ichiban Kan was stopping their online store - I was able to make a final purchase to stock up on some items in my wish list! Looking forward to more bento blogs from you - keep up the good work!

Happy Bento!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I have an egg mold that I bought t the thrift store (new) for 25 cents. I have, however, never made a bento box lunch/meal so I REALLY need that book for some inspiration!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Not really sure if this counts as a tool, but I love using little silicone cupcake molds to hold dressings, dips, specialty sides, etc. It's so useful and mine come in pastel colors so they always add a little pop of color to the meal.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite bento tool would have to be my onigiri mold...followed by my musubi mold. I love rice molds in general, they make it so easy!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

The bento boxes I make are seldom "cute" in the all-around definintion, but my friends always comment on the absolutely awesome blue wave box I found in an online store when I whip it out. Most of the time when I am home for lunch (it's summer and I'm a college kid), I just make bento-inspired items for my lunch rather than making a bento for travel. I think my favorite utensil in the kitchen is my travel chopsticks by Yamazaki. They elicit all kinds of comments such as "Ian you're so Asian!" from my Asian friends, though I am indeed not Asian at all except in soul : D. This being said, I'd like a chance to win that book for some inspiration when I go to university this year!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Well, it may sound silly but my favourite bento making tool would actually be that pretty picture of a bento that makes me think "I'm so doing this tomorrow" and inspires and gives me great ideas ^^
When I see a tasty-looking bento I try to make something inspired by it, like the time I saw a bento with steamed fish rolls and two days after I made my own bento with steamed tuna rolls (I do love tuna :p ).
So the best tool for me is a nice picture of someone else's bento!
Cookie cutters, onigiri molds, nori punches... Those things, when I don't have them, I can just use a knife or scissors, but the ideas you get from the pictures are irreplaceable for someone like me who can only cook so well when following a recipe :p

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Maki, that last post that was from anonymous was actually from me (Ian) the kid with the Yamazaki chopsticks...sorry about the double-post, but I was not logged in and didnt realize. Do you think you could edit that so that that post is from this account?

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I became interested in Bento as a way to make my 3 year old daughter's lunches more appealing. I purchased a bunny egg mold to try and interest her in hard boiled eggs, a great protein addition to a bento lunch. It turns out that the bunny egg looks just like her favorite cartoon character "Max" from the "Max and Ruby" show. She will sometimes even request a bunny egg and is amazed that "Max has a yellow ball inside his head (the yolk), although she rarely eats this part.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My mr bento and my brain.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I have yet to be able to afford any "official" bento making accessories, so instead I go scrounging in the local bulk food store's baking aisle. My favourite tool that I've found would have to be the chocolate/candy mold in the shape of turtles that I use for making turtle shaped onigiri. They make me laugh everytime I pop them out and into my bento box, so they're a perfect display of what attracted me to bento making in the first place =)

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I LOVE the Bento Box! I started my daughter just this last school year on it. I really like it for the pure fact that it helps me make her lunch nutritionally sound. When you have to fill each space and actually plan and think, it just works. It's also fun to put it all together, like a food puzzle! I really enjoy your blog. The ideas & recipes are yummy!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite tool demonstrates just how crazy I have gone over the whole bento thing. Keep in mind that I only started making bentos this last week. However, while waiting to get my first bento box from the UPS man, I went out and bought tools (and more tools). I knew I had a new addiction when I bought a Play Doh set because it came with cookie cutters in the shape of small animals. These are my favorite tools...thus far :).