For those who never heard of bento, bento is a Japanese home-packed meal (mostly lunch). What sets this apart from our regular is not only the fact that they’re various small Japanese dishes into one, but also that they’re aestethically pleasing.

I sometimes wonder whether there are school battles about who has the best bento!

A few years ago I bought the book Bento Boxes: Japanese Meals on the Go (click link for review), which was abit disappointing. Even though it gives you great ideas for making your own bento meals and is written by a Japanese person (so it seems to be authentic), the translation isn’t really on par and most recipes following the same structure using the same basic Japanese ingredients: soy sauce, mirin and dashi. And vinegar seems to some up a lot too. Nevertheless, even though this makes it a bit simple, it doesn’t mean it’s not going to be yummy!

But on the web there are several sites dedicated to bento recipes, like Cooking Cute (which is really good) and My Lunch Can Beat Up Your Lunch!.

Here are also two blogs dedicated to bento: one is Just Bento, which has not only recipes, but also posts about the “bento lifestyle” (like boxes and such matter). And another great one is Bento Challenge, which is all about the visual aspect of bentos! The pictures posted are not just pics of people who made bento, but also results of a weekly challenge where people have to make a bento meal that visually corresponds to that theme! There are some really cool, creative bento meals made that way!

Now if you want to start making your own bento meals, prepare to wake up an hour earlier!

Doug