Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Kawaii Bento Boxes: Cute & Convenient Japanese Meals on the Go review

Kawaii Bento Boxes: Cute and Convenient Japanese Meals on the Go

The Onigiri above has an umeboshi inside (another had pickled ginger for Kat's friend - they needed a pre-shopping snack!), formed into a ball with hands wet with salt water placed on top of pink denbu, egg sheet cut with a flower cutter and edamame on plastic wrap, which was then wrapped around the rice ball so that the toppings were pressed onto the rice. 

You may choose to leave the plastic wrap around the onogiri until ready to eat so it stays moist.

She also made them tamagoyaki and threw on a couple edamame pods - What a treat for the eyes and tummy :)

Months ago I was sent a review copy of Kawaii Bento Boxes: Cute & Convenient Japanese Meals on the Go -- I am finally getting around to reviewing it, with the help of my daughter, Kat, who made the Onigiri pictured here. As you can see from the cover of Kawaii Bento Boxes, she has been inspired by the Onigiri in this book.

I think the cover represents what you'll find inside fairly well. There is no shortage of kawaii (Japanese for cute) bento in the book, but there are also simpler bento and even speed bento.

I want to show you just a few pages from the book so you can see what it looks like and get a feel for what it has to offer.  A few more pages can be seen on

This shows the page with the onigiri Kat's was based on, packed into a bento, still wrapped in plastic wrap.

These pages have some very cute onigiri ideas - two of which Kat has used already - the boy and girl and the panda.  It really makes me wish Rob would like onigiri in his bento - so adorable!  One of these days I may just have to sneak a small onigiri into his bento - hehe :)

Here we have snipets of pages dedicated to giving you some ideas for bento foods to help you get those 5 colors into the box.  There are 2 pages for each color shown above.  I think this could be useful especially to newer bento packers :)

Now tell me the pages above don't make you just squee ;)  The cuteness continues on the next 2 pages.  Plus all the other cute ideas throughout the book.

While the bento I pack are filled with predominantly typical American lunch foods, you may have noticed that I slip in Japanese ingredients here and there.  If you don't have an Asian grocery in your area, some of the things in this book may be difficult for you to locate.  Some are available online, some may not be.

Another reviewer, Pikko over at pointed out that the musubi in the book is shown with uncooked spam (though it is fully cooked in the can) and found this unappetizing, as you would never actually see it that way in Hawaii.
(Note: I read her review back in Aug/Sept when the book was about to be released - I have not re-read the review so that I would not be overly influenced in writing this one - to read Pikko's review:

I was a little thrown myself by the Scotch Egg (using a cute little quail egg) in the book wrapped in ground beef - Being a Scottish family, we would have to use sausage! :)

I am also unsure of the times shown for the bento packing.  Perhaps it is accurate for a seasoned bento packer, but I feel for a novice, the times may be way off.  It seems cooking time may not have been included in the times for the box?  Perhaps the times shown are only for packing the bento.

The recipes Kat's tried have been simple enough and her results were good.

Overall, I really like the book and think it is well worth the $12.89 has it listed for (note: added Associate link for the book on, just in case you plan to purchase it anyway).  I'm not sure I would pay the $18.95 list price, but maybe I would, after all, I've paid more for a few of our bento boxes...

I included the picture above from a previous bento I packed simply because the radish carving was from this book.  And come on, isn't that bunny egg just adorable too? ;)

Happy Bento-ing!!

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