Monday, August 15, 2011

Bento Bonanza.

Lunchtime Bento from Igibon
There are few foods I won’t eat. I get around a lot and get to try all sorts of different things.

One thing I really like is a good Bento box. Now, there’s the fact I like Asian food for the most part. But with a Bento box you’re not getting your average meal. You’re getting a very wide variety of choices. Sure, the portions tend to be smaller than if you order a regular dish. That’s not the point. The point lies in the variety.

I adore variety.

So I got to thinking about it, and came up with some ideas for Bento boxes for other cuisines. Maybe I’m crazy, but I really think this could work. For instance:

Sandwich Bento: Three or four tea size sandwiches served on different types of bread (think sandwich quarters: roast beef and swiss on rye, small Monte Cristo section, pimento cheese on wheat berry, ham with mayo on white bread), cucumber slices, cold potato salad, cheese cubes.

Italian Bento: Antipasti! It’s perfect for a bento box! Pair a couple of cheese filled toasted ravioli with a sundried tomato bread salad, an olive selection, sliced asparagus, prosciutto, meatball, a tiny insalada misto and some pickled artichokes.

Greek Bento: Pita quarters -- one filled with hummus, one with gyro meat and tomatoes, one with shredded spiced chicken and one melty with Feta, tzatziki sauce for dipping, small piece of baklava.

Chicago Bento: Mini beef hot dog dusted with poppy seeds and celery salt, topped with a little relish and tomato chunks and sport pepper. Salad made from Italian bread and shredded beef soaked in jus and giardinaira. Small gyro salad. Homemade pizza square. Single kraut pierogis and Italian ice.

Chinese Bento: Steamed dumpling, lo mein, steamed broccoli, bok choy in lobster sauce, short spring roll and a small egg drop soup.

Steak Bento: Three ounces of medium rare steak tips, slices of ribeye and a couple of ounces of prime rib, BAKED JoJo potatoes with sour cream for dipping, thin baguette slices and a small tomato salad.

Mexican Bento: Small tostada with beans and lettuce, tightly wrapped soft taco filled with shredded carne asada or al pastor, black bean and corn salad, seasoned rice, salsa for dipping, small cheese stuffed fried pepper.

Indian Bento: Small naan, kachumbar salad, daal makhan, mattar paneer, a small samosa, a piece of chicken tikka, some korma and a side of Palau rice.

Barbecue Bento: 2-3 ounce portions of shredded pork and chopped beef, smoked beef brisket, a smoked chicken leg, a smoked or roasted medley of potatoes and corn, a dollop of potato salad, a small portion of beans and quarters of soft white bread along with barbecue sauce, of course.

Breakfast Bento: Silver dollar pancake, French toast stick, waffle section, orange slices, hard boiled egg, round bacon rasher, sausage link, mini cheese blintz, small scone, mini broccoli cheese quiche, tiny cinnamon roll.

Pub Bento: Pub burger slammer (2-3 ounces), half battered fish fillet, chips, miniature Shepherd’s Pie, cabbage roll filled with corned beef. BEER.

Seafood Restaurant Bento (courtesy Chris Finklea): Catfish fillet, popcorn shrimp, hushpuppies, green tomato relish, coleslaw, onion.

Baby Food Bento: Pureed carrots, mashed potatoes (without extra salt), tiny shredded turkey bits, sweet potatoes, peas, lamb stew, momma spit wet-nap, cereal, bananas.

Southern Food Bento: Pan fried chicken thigh, biscuit, white gravy for dipping, collard greens with vinegar, PurpleHull peas, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, fresh cold watermelon balls or blackberries, mini cornbread muffin.

Diner Bento: Small hamburger steak or meatloaf (2-3 ounces), mini Parker House roll, creamed potatoes with white gravy, small cut honeyed carrots, someone to call you “sugar,” mystery casserole block, macaroni and cheese, thimble pie.

French Bento: 3 ounces boneless Coq au Vin, miniature baguette, sliced radish, ratatouille, wine, fine chocolate, mini mushroom tart.

Cajun Bento: Small link Andouille sausage, mini Natchitoches Meat Pie, beignet, gator bites, Cajun Pastaletta, Shrimp Creole, bread pudding muffin.

Pastry Bento: Doughnut, little chocolate doughnut, mini croissant, Napoleon, Petit Four, mini ├ęclair, Cheddar bread mini-roll, carrot cake muffin.

German Bento: Five different 3” half links of sausages, spaetzle, sauerkraut and a brown bread roll.

Burger Joint Bento: Ground ribeye slammer on custom made soft wheat roll, cherry tomatoes, tiny Kosher dill, chunk of Cheddar cheese, shoestring fries, fresh made pickles, dip of ketchup.

Soul Food Bento: Small hand-rolled half-length tamales, turnip greens, cracklins, ham hocks, 2” Johnnycake, sweet potato tart.

How crazy is this idea?  Have more?  Feel free to add them here!


  1. Now I'm hungry! I'll have an Italian Bento and a Steak Bento, please ;)

  2. Love it. The Indian bento (what I recognize) sounds awesome. My only hold-up is that I'm trying to make this lunchbox friendly, for big kid to take to school. We thought of bento, but were limited to cold foods. So far: red pepper mayo/turkey pinwheels and graham crackers w/PB; fruit salad and nuts.

  3. This is actually a GREAT idea! This would totally sell! I'll take a pastry bento now please. Most of us "foodie types" want to taste everything, so this would be the ticket. I'm totally in on this one!

  4. Could we add a tiny dessert to those bento boxes? Then we would want for nothing more.... :)

  5. Fantastic idea! Every time I go to Cracker Barrel, I want a bento. I want a little bite of ham, a little chicken fried steak, etc.

    Now what about a cocktail bento?

  6. And you could put those crazy bento boxes in furoshiki, a cloth for wrapping and transporting bento. My sister and I make and sell them, with a matching napkin. (Other styles of furoshiki are available too.) It works like a lunch bag or box, except it opens flat, and it accommodates any shape of contents. And you can easily wash it. Our website is; I'll put up a 20% off code for readers of this blog; (just enter 'tdt082111' when prompted at checkout. I'll leave it up until Labor Day.)


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