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.

An onigiri bento box usually comes in two parts: the bottom part with its own lid, which can hold your okazu or side dishes, and the triangular shaped lid which accommodates the onigiri. They come in many sizes, from small ones that hold a single onigiri to large ones that can hold 4 or more. This one holds 2 onigiri (each with about 3/4 cups of rice) comfortably.

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The trick is to form your onigiri so that they will fit fairly securely inside that lid. This does mean that your onigiri must be triangular.

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Here it is, filled and secured with a bento box band.

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These onigiri bento boxes do do the job. The two onigiri in the photo survived being carried around in a backpack. I made the onigiri using the plastic wrap method, and used the wrap to protect each onigiri. (The cut nori sheets are packed separately so they don't get too soggy.)

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Onigiri bento boxes are very cute, and do protect your onigiri well. There are a few drawbacks however. First, they are not easy to store, since you can't stack other boxes on top of them. Also, the onigiri compartment is big compared to the side dish compartment, so you may end up eating more onigiri (= more rice) than is ideal. Finally, it's not that versatile. I've trying cutting small sandwiches and fitting them in the onigiri section, but it doesn't quite work.

I would recommend buying an onigiri bento box only if you bring onigiri for lunch fairly regularly. It probably shouldn't be the very first bento box you should get for everyday use, especially if you're trying to watch your rice intake.

However, if you suffer from low blood sugar and/or need small snacks or meals throughout the day to supplement your lunch, bringing along one or more small single-onigiri boxes with a small onigiri and some cut up vegetables, fruit, nuts, etc. in the bottom compartment might be a good idea.

(See the onigiri bento box in action in bentos no. 36 and no. 37. )