Bento Box Rules
Bento boxes have recently become a culinary fascination in the US, but the Japanese tradition dates back centuries. The term bento derives from a Chinese word meaning “convenient.” The packed lunch boxes may be convenient for eating on the go, but the care that goes into preparing a bento box is far from quick or trivial.
Traditionally, these edible works of art contain items prepared differently—something steamed, something pickled, something grilled, and something sautéed—and of different colors—something white, something black, something red or orange, something yellow, and something green—resulting in well-balanced meal with a variety of textures and tastes to stimulate the palate with every bite.
While visiting Tokyo, Phil joined food writer Yukari Sakamoto in tasting the delicious offerings of a bento box from Takashimaya Nihonbashi. But to enjoy the Japanese lunch box, you need only travel to your pantry. Get started with a few of the bento box ideas below, or put your own creative twist on this time-honored Japanese tradition. Itadakimasu! (Bon appetit!)