2010 Holiday Gift Guide For Bento Fans Part 2: $10-$50
Welcome to part 2 of the 2010 Holiday Gift Guide for bento fans! In Part 1 we covered $10-and-under stocking stuffers.
This time, we get the the price range where you can pick up a serious, high quality bento box and more. Selecting individual bento boxes is really a matter of individual taste, so I've selected a few that caught my eye for various reasons. (Again, prices do not include shipping and customs duties.)
Pre-assembled bento sets for the bento beginner
If you're shopping for someone who is just starting out with bento making, or thinking about it complete bento box sets are a great way to go. For example, this Blue Rabbit and Moon set fhas just about everything they would need. There's a 2-tier leakproof bento box with inner divider cups, a pair of chopsticks that can be stored in one of the inner lids, a bento band, and even a matching drawstring bag to carry the box in. The total capacity of the box (720ml) is big enough for most adults. Plus - bunnies! It's $22 from J-List/JBox.
The bento box kit from Bento&co assembles all the items you need in a coordinated set. There's a large (800ml) capacity, sleek modern bento box with bento band, a compact cutlery set, two silicone bento cups, and drawstring bag. The Bento&co Bento Kit is 36.80 Euros, about US $49. (If you prefer a more traditional Japanese look, check out the Kaze Black set for 31.80 Euros (about US $42).
For something much cuter, here's an adorable bear themed bento box with bento band and matching drawstring bag from CasaBento for 16.19 Euros (about $21.50). Check out the whole Field of Animals line for coordinating items.
In Japan, the "slim" or narrow, long and multitiered style of bento box is really popular, especially amongst working people, since they are easy to carry in a briefcase. Here are some "slim" style bento boxes available from worldwide-shipping merchants.
This woodgrain-look bento box is only 6.5 cm/2.6" wide, but still holds 840ml and includes a pair of chopsticks. Available from Japonmania for 24.95 Euros (about $33).
The Ojue box by Osaka design company Metaphys is an even narrower 3-tier box (total capacity 740 ml (2 compartments with 300 ml capacity, 1 with 140 ml capacity)), that only measures 5.5 cm (2.16") in width. It also includes a pair of folding chopsticks. The box itself is a modern work of art, that you could just leave out for display when not in use. Available from from Bento&co and CasaBento.
I saw this narrow bento box at LoFT (see Where to buy bento boxes and supplies in Japan) It's an ultra-slim (only 5.3 cm/2.1") wide, 500ml capacity 2-tier box, and also includes a pair of collapsible chopsticks. The sparkles in the plastic adds antibacterial qualities to the box, apparently. Available from CasaBento for 19.99 Euros and from I Love Obento for $16.99.
Stainless and Thermal
The LunchBots line of stainless steel boxes is well within this price range, and the 20% off coupon code for JustBento readers mentioned here should still be valid.
The 10 ounce (about 300ml) capacity lunch jars from Thermos called Funtainer, Foogo and so on are sold as being for kids an babies, but the capacity is great for a warm bento lunch. (Thermos makes really good thermal containers, better than their competition in my opinion.) Just pack some soup or stew in the thermal container, with some bread, a sandwich or onigiri rice balls on the side, and you're all set.
I think this Hello Kitty Funtainer ($13.83 from Amazon.com) is perfectly appropriate for a corporate office, but if you disagree go for a plainer Foogo - or if you prefer to feel the Force, why not a Star Wars version. For larger appetites there's the 16 ounce (470ml) Stainless King food jar for $19.99. (Note to non-American shoppers, I apologize for the US-shipping only Amazon links. Let me know if you spot any sources for these lunch jars elsewhere.)
Just for fun
Finally, just some fun, cute or weird bento boxes...
Duck Duck Pig? These pig and duck bento boxes from Japanistic are for fans of either. The coordinating bento bands are especially cute. ($19.78 each).
For diehard Pokemon fans, here's a small (170ml) capacity lunch box...ball...what would you call this? Anyway it comes with its own bag and is a lot of fun.
So far, I have resisted buying these Block Bento boxes myself, because I know that once I get one, I'm going to want about a dozen more to stack up and play with. If you're made of sterner stuff than I am, they're really hot right now in the bento box world, and are available from Bento&co in many colors. Also available from J-List (and other sellers too I think). Each Block Bento box has 2 tiers that total 480ml in capacity, good for kids or small appetites.
There are really so many different bento boxes out there nowadays, just go ahead and see what strikes your fancy. Be sure to check the Recommending Bento Shopping page.
...and a book to fill them all
Finally, since the brand new Just Bento Cookbook is in this price range too, I thought I'd mention that it would make a perfect holiday gift! ^_^ Available from Amazon.com, or check out the worldwide sources page.
So, in part 3 we'll wrap up the Holiday Gift Guide with some special over-$50 gifts for the bento lover in your life.