Quick tip: Cubed bento rice

In a recent Japanese magazine article (more about the magazine below), there was a tip to put crisscross lines on top of the rice packed into a bento box, to not only make the rice look a bit prettier, but to make it easier to pick up with chopsticks.


The article didn’t say how to form the lines, so I tried a couple of implements including chopsticks and a silicone spatula. In the end I found that a moistened table knife (with a rounded tip) works the best. Also, for maximum effect I ‘cut’ the rice to the bottom of the box, to form little cubes. This makes it a lot easier to pick up each section of rice. We field-tested it in the last couple of bentos, and it gets our stamp of approval.


You can use the rice-grid as a guide to decorating the top of the rice as I’ve done here—I just sprinkled every other square with a bit of furikake.

So if you or the person you’re making bentos for has some trouble picking up rice neatly with chopsticks, try this out! It will only work with Japanese style or sticky rice however - other types of rice, or fried rice, won’t retain the cubes.

Tsucione and Daichi o mamoru kai

The magazine I saw this tip in is called Tsucione, and it’s issued by a cooperative called Daichi o mamoru kai (Association To Protect The Earth) which connects small scale organic farmers and fishermen to consumers, mainly by home delivery of what they produce. It’s a bit like a CSA (you have to become a member to take advantage of the home delivery and so on), but with much more variety—you get to choose from what a variety of producers produce, instead of just one farm or so. Daichi o mamoru kai also engages in various activities to support organic/sustainable farming and fishing, and small scale producers. If you live in Japan you may want to give them a look (though their site is only in Japanese unfortunately).

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rice bento help

i was wondering, if your not making and using the rice at that moment, how do you keep the rice from drying out? or would you keep it out if you made the rice the night before? i am wondering about how to keep the rice soft, but worried about food safety issues. my step mom puts a umiboshi in the bento and my dad does not refrigerate it (even if it has egg or spam) but i wonder if that is enough.

I never, ever leave rice

I never, ever leave rice out, especially not in the rice cooker (with or without the ‘keep warm’ setting on). I take it all out and wrap it up completely in plastic wrap. At that point you can refrigerate it, and it should be ok the next day; for safety and for texture you may want to microwave it in the morning before using it for your bento. I prefer to freeze rice rather than keeping it in the fridge though. Umeboshi can help keep rice fresher longer, but I would still not leave it out overnight (especially in warm weather).

This page may be of help in regards to bento safety too.

Does it have to be plastic

Does it have to be plastic wrap or can you store it in a plastic container? I hate to throw away plastic wrap/baggies etc it seems so wasteful.

Re: Does it have to be plastic

Hi Jessica,

In my rice-storing experience, wrap or baggies do a better job of holding the moisture in -- I'm not sure if it's because there's more rice and less air, or because the seal is better, or what.

Personally, I am not above washing and reusing plastic baggies ... ;)

here we are!!! xD well,

here we are!!! xD

well, because the rice is in squares, you can design them to look like monokuro boo! :D

just a suggestion

Re: Quick tip: Cubed bento rice

I think my kids would love the little rice squares, and will use this idea when I'm in a hurry. We have a couple of the rice molds that imprint hearts, etc. on the rice.... but sometimes I just don't have time to deal with that! I would probably do a checkerboard pattern using soy sauce for them (they don't like seaweed...). Thanks for the idea :)

Re: Quick tip: Cubed bento rice

I have to admit, this is one of those ideas that I haven't really continued to use myself...though it does do what the package says (it does make rice easier to pick up with chopsticks)! I'm just usually in too much of a hurry when I'm packing bentos...and The Guy actually can use chopsticks better than I can! So there isn't much of a need to cube the rice.

Re: Quick tip: Cubed bento rice

I just wanted to say thank you for all the information on your two sites. I am planning on starting to make Bento for my husband and I for lunches and I have been powering my way through your sites link by link hoping to learn enough to get started.

Thanks for sharing such good clear information, I am certain you have given me enough to get off to a great start!

Re: Quick tip: Cubed bento rice

I have a bento box that actually came with a tool that presses down and divides the rice up into neat squares. It took me a while to figure out what it was designed to do (lol) but it's a quick & easy way to divide the rice rather than using a knife or chopsticks!

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