In Japanese gastronomy, the visual aspect is just as important as the taste... That's why the dishes are always presented with great care. This aesthetic obsession can also be found in Japanese bento boxes... remember these lunch boxes for the whole family that are eaten at lunch time.
The kawaii bento represents a whole art in the Japanese culture. In Japan, moms prepare lunch for their children with the leftovers of the day before. To make this meal more appetizing and to show their love, they prepare pretty bento boxes full of tenderness known as " kyaraben ". These are decorated with cute characters and animals. The shapes and colors are mixed like a cartoon universe that makes your mouth water.
If you have also fallen for this famous Japanese lunch box, here are some ideas to brighten up your meals with a kawaii bento box.
😻 Get equipped with kawaii bento accessories
Bento accessories on Japan Avenue
First, you'll need some adorable kawaii accessories like onigiri rice molds, cookie cutters, mini sauce bottles and decorative picks!
Onigiri rice molds
Japanese people have the habit of making filled rice balls with the leftovers from the fridge. These are the famous onigiri. Usually, they are round or triangular, but there are different molds that can be used to create kawaii characters. For example, there exist onigiris in the shape of a cat's head, a bear, a panda or a smiling fish, with big round eyes.
These tools are ideal for effortlessly cutting your sandwiches, vegetables and fruits in the shape of hearts, flowers, little stars or even bunnies. Any firm food such as cheese, hard-boiled eggs or cold cuts can be sliced with a kawaii cookie cutter. Well, that's something to make your meals a lot less boring!
Mini sauce bottles
Like a doll's accessory, the mini sauce bottle allows you to pour your dressing or soy sauce at lunch time. This way, you will avoid wilting your salad or any sealing problem. You'll find elephant, mouse and other baby animal caps in abundance in our store!
There you go, your kawai bento box is ready. To add that final touch, remember the decorative picks in the shape of cartoon characters or small animals. These accessories will liven up your lunch break.
💫 Let your imagination run wild
Have you gathered all the necessary elements to make a kawaii bento box? Now it's time to use your imagination to compose your meal and create a world worthy of a Japanese anime. Feel free to sketch your composition using a sheet of paper and a pencil just like a true artist.
A well balanced meal
In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, your Japanese bento must also be balanced. Generally, a Japanese meal consists of 40% rice, 20% fresh vegetables, 30% protein and 10% macerated fruits or vegetables. Seasonal products are also a must and do not hesitate to mix textures, shapes and colors. Finally, we opt for a variety of cooking methods with raw, grilled, fried or steamed foods for example.
Cutting the ingredients
Japanese rice, hard-boiled eggs or sandwiches are perfect for creating kawaii characters with the help of molds or large cutters. Cats, pandas, teddy bears, little fish... it's up to you.
To bring these characters to life, draw eyes and a mouth with a bit of sauce or with pieces of nori seaweed for example. Some tools allow you to make very funny facial expressions.
Vegetables, fruits, cheese and cold cuts are cut into small parts: slices, sticks, small cubes. You can use cookie cutters in the shape of hearts, stars or animal heads in order to create small, childish decorations.
Dividing the kawaii bento box
The bento box is compartmentalized in order to organize your meal while avoiding mixing the various foods. After cutting your ingredients with your cookie cutter or your kawaii molds, arrange them in the different compartments harmoniously. The portion of rice on one side of your Japanese lunch box or in a separate compartment, followed by the pieces of meat and fish, usually larger, and the side dishes (vegetables, raw vegetables). Next, the decorations are carefully arranged to fill in the empty spaces. Note that your bento must be well filled so that it does not move during transportation.
🌈 Adding color to your bento
A kawaii bento is bound to be colorful. So, go for seasonal ingredients, with bright colors and tones in order to liven up your Japanese lunch box.
Orange / yellow food
Carrot, clementine, pasta, potato, corn, egg yolk, lemon...
Red / pink food
Tomato, radish, beet, watermelon, sausage, ham, bacon, red onion, strawberry, raspberry, pomegranate, kidney bean...
Salad, cucumber, green beans, spinach, avocado, cabbage, kiwi, grapes...
Rice, tofu, cheese, cauliflower, pear, apple, chicken, white meat...
🐳 Some examples of Japanese kawaii bento
Are you lacking inspiration? Here are some particularly delicious Japanese bento recipes.
The cat bento box
An onigiri in the shape of a cat's head with star-shaped broccoli and carrots and breaded pork (tonkatsu). In a separate compartment: sushi with soy sauce.
The teddy bear bento box
A rice or onigiri bear with chicken, green beans, an omelette, tempura and gyozas (Japanese ravioli).
The fish bento box
A hard-boiled egg in the shape of a fish, semolina, cucumber, avocado, tomatoes, accompanied by a mini-bottle of vinaigrette and yakitori skewers.
The Totoro bento box
A dumpling with tricolored rice in the shape of the famous Miyazaki character with some zucchini or eggplant cut in hearts and an omelet decorated with small drawings with ketchup.
The sandwich bento box
A whale or baby seal sandwich with cherry tomatoes, salad leaves and carrot sticks.
The sweet and colorful bento box
A fruit salad with yellow peaches, apples, pears, strawberries, plums and watermelons cut into flowers. Raspberries, blueberries, cherries and dried fruits like almonds. A small colorful pastry like mochi or dango and animal picks.
Forget about your old Tupperware and turn your meals into a magical moment and surprise your children. By following our tips, you will become an expert in kawaii bento! Watch out, your kids will love it!