Bento Boxes Explained
For people who aren’t Japanese, many will be familiar with Bento boxes but you may not know exactly what they are and what goes in them. A bento box is essentially a convenient lunch box. If you visit Japan for any length or time, you will find Bento boxes in all shapes, sizes, prices, and for all appetites all over the country.
Where to buy Bento Boxes
All Japanese convenience stores will have a selection of Bento boxes at reasonable prices and locals are usually seen eating homemade bento boxes at lunchtime. Such is the popularity of this way of eating, Bento boxes are now very popular in Japanese restaurants across the world to both eat in or take away.
Bento boxes are a long standing Japanese tradition, and a way of enjoying food that looks pretty and is easy to eat on the go. Bento boxes also tend to be very healthy, usually containing many different foods such as fruits, vegetables, meat, rice, and fish.
Take Away Bento Boxes
Originally, Bento boxes were almost exclusively a homemade lunch, made by working people before their day, or made by mothers to give to their children before school. Today, if you step into any convenience store or supermarket in Japan there will be a whole section devoted to Bento boxes. Most of these Bento boxes are made fresh each day. In the past, Bento boxes were served in wooden lacquer boxes but nowadays they usually come in plastic containers.
Many take away restaurants also offer Bento boxes at lunchtime and the evening.
Unlike many other ready-meals across the world, Bento boxes tend to be very healthy. They are made up of different food groups using quality, fresh ingredients including fresh fish, vegetables, fruit, and lean meat
The Japanese have a saying that ‘you eat with your eyes’. This means that food should good as well as taste good. A trend that has grown in popularity is that of Kyaraben (or cute character Bento). The original idea behind this was to make lunch boxes look attractive so that children were encouraged to eat properly.
It is not uncommon for a housewife to get up early in the morning especially to prepare wonderful looking boxes for her husband and children. Characters including cartoon characters, animals, people, and landscapes are often included in the boxes.
How to Make a Bento Box Meal
If you want to create your own bento box meal, you can use a normal Tupperware, or buy a specially made Bento box, available on-line, that has a fitted lid and several compartments.
Then work out your ratio of food. The traditional method is the 4:3:2:1 ratio, which is 4 parts rice, 3 parts side dish, 2 parts vegetables, 1 part pickle. The side dish is the protein part of the meal, which will be fish or meat. If you don’t like pickles, the last part can be made up of a small dessert!
Bento Boxes from Tenkaichi
At Tenkaichi, we serve a range of Bento boxes to our customers including boxes filled with salmon, tuna, seafood, pork, chicken and a vegetarian option.
We also serve our very own Tenkaichi box which offers a choice of fish, meat and vegetarian choice.
Check out our full Bento box menu here. and you can call us on the number below to make a reservation at Tenkaichi: