Bento box and accessories review: monbento bento boxes and accessories from France

As the popularity of bento boxes spreads around the world, bento box and accessory manufacturers are also becoming more international. One of the most interesting bento box makers is monbento. Their headquarters are in Clermont-Ferrand, France, and their site proudly proclaims that their products are designed in France.

monbento boxes come in a variety of chic, modern and bright colors, and you can even specify your own color combinations (more on that later).

Everything about a monbento box is classy, even the box it comes packaged in. This is a red 2-tier model; each layer has a 500ml capacity, for a total of 1000ml for both layers. (They also have single-layer 500ml boxes.)

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This is an orange model, that was sent to me by monbento for review. (I actually bought the red one for myself.) I’m not an orange kind of person but the orange that monbento uses is really nice. What makes the bentos look and feel even nicer is that they have a gorgeous matte finish. (Note: the standard bento band color is now grey instead of the black shown here.)

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Here’s the bento un-stacked. There’s an outer lid, plus an inner lid for both of the layers. (Note: the inner lids are now grey in the standard configurations instead of the black shown here.)

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The inner lids have small capped lids so that they can be vented when you want to microwave your bento. The lid is color coordinated with the bento, which is nice. The entire box, including the lids, is microwave and dishwasher safe.

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This is the inside. It comes with one moveable divider in one of the compartments.

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monbento sauce cups

The monbento sauce cups are also very well made. They come in sets of two in a variety of color combinations that match the bento boxes. Each pot holds 20ml.

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What makes these pots special, besides their cuteness, is that the lids screw on securely and have 2 little silicone gaskets, which make them pretty leakproof. They will leak if you carry them sideways or upside down for a length of time, but if you carry the bento box right way up (as you should really, to avoid a mess) they are about as secure as any sauce pots I’ve seen.

monbento-saucepotlid.jpg

monbento cutlery set

monbento makes two kinds of utensils: color coordinated chopsticks, and a metal cutlery set. I was sent the cutlery set for review. There’s a fork, spoon and knife, all packaged neatly in a plastic case with a snap-on lid.

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The cutlery is small, but not too small as to be unusable. It kind of reminds me of the nice cutlery you used to find with airline meals. They are also very sturdy metal, so you don’t have a feeling they’re going to bend or anything while you’re using them.

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a packed monbento

So here I filled up a monbento with a fairly standard bento for me. The two tiers are quite easy to pack. I put things I might want to heat up in the bottom compartment, and salad and fruit type things in the top compartment. (The sauce lids are off just to show the insides.) One thing to keep in mind is that if you pack both layers very tightly with calorie-dense foods like rice and you are trying to watch your intake (i.e. you’re on a diet), 1000ml is quite a lot. So you’ll want to pack those dense foods in maybe just one layer, and fill up with vegetables or something.

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Cleanup was very easy too since I could just throw everything in the dishwasher. I put everythning in the top rack, with the little bits in a basket.

monbento mold/inner divider set

This last accessory is brand new and very interesting: the monbento mold set. The set comes with 3 pieces: 2 small cups and a larger one, all made of silicone that is heat-safe up to 240°C/464°F. It comes in this classy grey, blue and fuschia combination.

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The smaller cups fit perfectly into one of the monbento box layers, so they can be used as dividers.

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The bigger mold however does not work as a box liner, since it has a big lip all around.

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This mold is meant for cooking things in, that fit perfectly into a monbento box. It has a slightly smaller capacity than the box itself at around 450ml. You could use the small molds/cups for cooking too, since they’re made of the same heatproof silicone material.

Now, monbento used to make a double-mold, which I have in my collection, but they no longer manufacture it. It’s the fuschia one here. I’ve been experimenting with cooking things in the molds - here I’m trying out cake salé, a savory “cake” (like a quickbread in the U.S.) of the type you see sold quite often at markets in France.

monbento-molds4cake.jpg

As you can see, the mold produces a flat little cake that fits perfectly in the boxes. (I’ll have the recipe for the cake up on the site soon.) I can see the mold being used for many other things…what about a baked omelette for example? I’m going to continue experimenting and post the good results.

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I guess the one quibble I have with the mold is that it’s small, so baking something in it in a big oven feels very wasteful somehow. If you have a toaster oven with baking functions that might work out better. I may try using it in a frying pan too, as well as the smaller cups. In any case it’s a really good idea in principle.

The monbento bento boxes and accessories: Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Beautiful coordinating colors, sleek, chic designs, nice matte finish
  • You can create your own color combinations on their site
  • Microwave and dishwasher safe
  • 2-tier design of boxes is easy to pack
  • Everything feels solidly made

Cons:

  • A bit expensive (but you get what you pay for)
  • It would be nice perhaps to have the possibility of buying the big grey mold only for multiple baking

All in all monbento makes great stuff. Besides the items reviewed here they also have bento bands in many colors, bento carrying bags, chopsticks and a few other things.

Where to buy monbento

There are several options for buying monbento products:

1. Directly from monbento

For the biggest selection, go to the monbento online store. This is where you can create customized bento boxes for example.

Shipping costs vary depending on where you are. If you’re in France you get free shipping if your order exceeds 60 euros. Note: If you live outside of the EU, e.g. in the U.S., you can subtract 20% of the listed price, which is the VAT. You may have to pay customs in your home country but do keep that in mind.

2. From Bento&co

Bento&co carries a good selection of monbento items, starting with their bento boxes of course, as well as sauce pots, chopsticks, the cutlery set and more. If you’re on a shopping spree there anyway, or if you’re in Japan, it’s a good option.

3. From Amazon

The Amazon stores carry a limited selection of monbento items:

(Disclaimer: Some of the items reviewed were sent to us by monbento for review purposes. (The other items were purchased.) We did not receive any compensation for the review and the opinions expressed are my own. The links to the sellers are affiliate links. By making your purchases via these links you help to support the site at no additional cost to you. ^_^)

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.

18 comments

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Re: Bento box and accessories review: monbento bento boxes ...

These new accessories look great!

I love everything about Monbento except the price.
It's a shame because they're great but I'm sure the price puts a few people off :(

Re: Bento box and accessories review: monbento bento boxes ...

1000ml is a good size for people like me, who work physically and thus do need more food. Most nice looking boxes are simply to small. This one is not and looks gorgous too! :)

Re: Bento box and accessories review: monbento bento boxes ...

my grey and white monbento is my first and (so far) only bento. I rely on it daily! I have the cutlery set too and although I always carry it, I usually end up using a normal fork at work. Since following just bento, I now use only one tier (500 mL) for lunch. That space under the top lid comes in handy too, sometimes I carry tea bags or dried mango slices in it. Seeing as how eating lunches out can cost more than $10 here, I think it's more than repaid its rather high price. My only quibble is that its soft feel exterior is starting to wear off.

virtually leakproof!

I also wanted to add that it's really leakproof. The gasket seal is so tight I often have trouble opening it!

Re: Bento box and accessories review: monbento bento boxes ...

I actually bought one of these when I stumbled across it on a trip to Paris last November. I totally agree it's expensive, but the amount of money I've saved bringing my lunch (it's so much more fun to pack a lunch when it goes into such a cute container!!!!) has more than paid off for me... I actually just bought my husband one a few weeks ago when I found it on sale online because he kept wanting to use mine.

Also, I just wanted to note that the silverware comes in a little tray, and when you take it out of the clear plastic box, it fits on top of the black lid and below the top domed lid of the bento, so it's all one little unit (leave the actual silverware snapped into the colored tray). Nothing slides around, nothing goes missing. I have to say I just love the whole thing and still get excited to make my lunch in the mornings.

Re: Bento box and accessories review: monbento bento boxes ...

I love my monbento boxes, but the matte finish has its downsides. My husband was not careful with his and spilled soysauce over the box. The white container has now some nasty brown spots, which were not cleaned by the dishwasher. I've put it out in the sun, which helped. But the spots are still visible.
Our boxes' inside still look like new, even after a year of nearly daily usage and don't smell strange, like some other containers do.

Re: Bento box and accessories review: monbento bento boxes ...

I love my Monbento! I bought it from Amazon a couple of months ago and it is now my favorite Bento box. The lids fit securely and tightly, allowing me to be a bit careless in carrying them. (This is necessary because I have a long commute and between the motorcycle and the train, things always get a little jostled). I don't have any of the molds, dividers, or sauce cups. I've been using muffin liners (which are slightly too tall and need to be squished down when sealing) and the little squeeze bottle type sauce containers. It holds enough for lunch, snacks, and breakfast, when supplemented by staples I keep at the desk. The space between the top liner lid and the outer lid - meant for the cutlery set, I think - is perfect for a few crackers and a bit of cheese.

Re: Bento box and accessories review: monbento bento boxes ...

Do you use silicone muffin liners? I used to squish mine too until I saw somewhere that recommended just taking scissors and cutting the cup height down. It was a bit of a "duh" moment for me as I had never considered doing that but in the end a very elegant solution.

Re: Yay! Monbento.

The quality of this box is amazing. My wife settled on them as a supplier, and after I saw hers, I ordered one from France. Price is correct for the quality of what you are buying, imho.

Features that sold me were:
- really nice, soft to the touch finish.
- highly sealable lids
- ability to buy what you want and get replacemnt stuff (I have dogs).

Above all, this bento has the right amount of elbow room for me. Nice to pack main meal plus starch in the bottom and have ample room for the lower cal, but nutritionally important vegies/salad in the top.

Probably my favorite bento to date. Seems less frantic. Delivery to US was unimaginably fast; 5 days from order.

Re: Bento box and accessories review: monbento bento boxes ...

For the small size of the molds, you could use them like you would any other mini bento dish. When making a larger batch of baked goods, put some of the dough into the mold and bake it with the rest of whatever you happen to be making at a reduced time.

Many bread doughs freeze quite well for up to a month, so you could also portion mini loaf packs to bake fresh little bread loaves in a toaster oven, or in the regular oven whenever you have another meal that requires the use of an oven.

Re: Bento box and accessories review: monbento bento boxes ...

I was delighted when I first got my MonBento box (two-tier, purple and white, no accessories), but haven't been quite so impressed over time.

The coloured parts have faded and marked badly, and the matte plastic has gone strangely tacky/sticky in a way that won't wash off. The lids fit so tightly that it's quite a fight to get them on/off, and the rubber lug at the corner that you use to remove the lid has split, so using it just rips the gasket.

Having said that, it is a lovely, sturdy and sizeable box that I do use a lot!

Re: Bento box and accessories review: monbento bento boxes ...

I love that red, white and black one in the top pic. Why? Because it looks like a Pokeball! ^^

Re: Bento box and accessories review: monbento bento boxes ...

I was gifted a monbento (purchased off of Amazon) for Valentines Day and I love it. I use it nearly every day. I really wanted the little sauce pots, but didn't want to pay the shipping from France or somewhere else. I happened to find them being sold in a set with the egg molds on fab.com though! Looks like they have a few of the boxes right now.

Re: Bento box and accessories review: monbento bento boxes ...

I have one of the older monbento boxes and agree that the top lid is a very tight fit. However, the design has been modified for the newer boxes (there was a ridge on the top lid that went all the way around, now the lid has 4 gaps).
Having tried many kinds of bento boxes over the years our store (except for a few smaller examples for our young daughter, mostly from Thermos JP) only has two brands now - Lock&Lock and Monbento.
My husband ends up having to transport a lot of technical equipment to and from work and will sling his bento into a large bag. For this reason he is not a Monbento fan as the box isn't leak proof enough for his needs. Lock&Lock has yet to fail him. I've personally never had a leakage problem with Monbento and this will be the first box I reach for when preparing my own lunch.
I've even found the one accessory I really wanted to make my Monbento collection complete - a Pillivuyt ceramic square dish that now fits perfectly into a Monbento. The sides are a nice snug fit so it won't rattle around, but I did have to grind a couple of millimetres away from the bottom so that the Monbento sealing lid would fit over the top.
I'll be using the ceramic square to make tarts, quiches and suchlike soon so I'd love to see recipes for mini baked goods. Until now it's been great for small salads, means I can have some fruit and a container with dressing in the same tier and the rice, vegetables and protein in the other tier

Re: Bento box and accessories review: monbento bento boxes ...

Oh my goodness...I'm torn between the Monbento and the Gangnam box. I really want to make bentos for my bf who is trying to lose weight and eat healthy and both of them are so gorgeous in design!

Re: Bento box and accessories review: monbento bento boxes ...

I love mine. They also offer a Mother's day, and Father's day special.

Re: Bento box and accessories review: monbento bento boxes ...

I've been looking into getting one of these but i've read a lot of reviews saying that Microwaves and dishwashers warp them...It just makes me worried because it's not like they're cheap.

Re: Bento box and accessories review: monbento bento boxes ...

Do you have a link to a review that says it warps? In my experience there's no warping to speak of. I've only had the boxes in the microwave for brief heating up though, not cooking for several minutes (except for the silicone baking mold that is).

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