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Bento, Delicious Bento

The bento, or boxed meal, is like a tasting menu of Japanese food and is a great way to sample a variety of different foods without making a huge commitment to one dish. Bento are commonly available at most grocery and convenience stores throughout Japan and are a staple on many restaurant menus. The contents of a bento box can vary greatly but they usually contain small portions of fish and/or meat, rice and vegetables. Tempura, sushi and noodles can also be found in many bento boxes.

Formal bento meals in restaurants are served in black, partitioned, lacquerware boxes that are very beautiful to behold.  They can be a bit pricey but can be worth the outlay as only the freshest seasonal ingredients, prepared perfectly, are included.

Those purchased at local grocery stores are much more economical and are served in disposable containers that can be easily transported to work or a picnic in the park on a sunny afternoon.

But bentos aren’t just purchased, many people make and take their own bento to work or school with them on a daily basis. Many homemakers take great pride in the bento they prepare and get really creative with the presentation.

You may not know what you are eating, and you make not like everything in your bento box, but there is a good chance that you will discover a new favorite or two, so don’t pass up the chance to eat a bento when you are in Japan.

Photo Credit: FLickr, Cooking Lecture: Japanese – 松花堂弁当 Shokado-style Bento Box (Japanese “Lunchbox”), Bento Panda, vive le food art & … by puzzlegaze