review

Halloween bentos galore!

spooky cat onigiri bento

I haven’t had any time to make a Halloween themed bento this year, since I’m still working on the recipes for my book. But many talented bentoists in the Just Bento flickr pool have been busy making some really scary-cute bentos! It just goes to show that, contrary to some misplaced assumptions, it’s not just Japanese moms that can get very creative with bentos. Here are a few that caught my eye. continue reading...

A Trio of Bento-Themed iPhone Apps

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One sign that bentos are becoming trendy, if they aren’t already, may be that they are being made into iPhone apps. There is of course the database app from FileMaker, Bento (which messes up searches for bento recipes!), which uses the divided bento box as a metaphor for organizing data. But there are a few apps that actually use the edible box of food we love as the main theme. Here I review three of them - A Bento Box: Virtual Sushi; Obento!; and Charaben. continue reading...

Bento box spotlight: The Goodbyn lunchbox

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When I saw this unusual looking lunchbox via the delicious bento tag stream, my first thought was, “Wow, that looks so cool”. The Goodbyn™ Lunchbox is a one-piece, molded plastic container with fitted lid, that looks like an odd/cute (or in anime parlance, kimo kawaii) space alien or animal. continue reading...

Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

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A review of a new bento book in English, plus a giveaway! continue reading...

Just Bento Recommended Shopping

Amazon astores, J-List, bento box sellers, and more: where to get bento stuff! continue reading...

Review of Saisai Lunch, a new vegan bento and quick lunch book by Yumiko Kano

saisailunchcover.jpgI’ve mentioned quite a few times both here on Just Bento and on Just Hungry about my admiration for the work of Yumiko Kano (or Yumiko Kanoh), who has written several vegan cookbooks. When I found out that she was coming out with a new book in her “Saisai” series dedicated to bentos and one-dish lunches, I knew I had to get it. The book, titled Saisai Lunch: Quick bentos and at-home lunches made with vegetables (菜菜ランチ 野菜でつくるクィック弁当&おうちごはん) came out on Monday and I received it yesterday, and it looks very good.

Yumiko Kano specializes in “no meat, no eggs, no dairy products, no sugar” vegetarian cooking. (‘No sugar’ means no added white sugar; she does use maple syrup quite a lot, especially in her dessert recipes. She also has a disclaimer that sugar may be present in some flavoring ingredients. Otherwise, she uses the natural sweetness of vegetables, dried fruits, sweet wine and so on.) Her recipes are mostly vegan - she uses vegan konbu seaweed based dashi stock instead of the more usual bonito flake based stock. And unlike most other Japanese cooks, she doesn’t put mirin or sake in every single dish. Most of her recipes are very easy to make, since she only uses a few ingredients.

The bentos in Saisai Lunch have one or maybe two okazu (side dishes) besides the main carb (mostly rice, but she sometimes uses noodles or pasta, and there are a few sandwiches). This keeps things very simple and quick, and it’s the approach I take with my bentos too most of the time. The presentation of each bento is beautiful yet simple - no trace of kyaraben-style cuteness here! And most of all, everything looks so delicious that even the resident diehard omnivore (or as he calls himself, the “bovo-vegetarian”) around here is drooling over each page. continue reading...

Bento boxes of the week: Onigiri bento boxes

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This week’s bento box is an example of a type of bento box which is designed to hold onigiri or omusubi (rice balls) securely.

While onigiri are very portable, they can get smashed around if you just carry them loose, and fitting them in a regular flat bento box can be a bit awkward sometimes. This is where the onigiri bento box comes in. continue reading...