Obento – Japanese Lunch Boxes
When I’m traveling in Japan, I like to taste-test the Bento lunch boxes.
Bento lunch boxes are just as important to the Japanese and Asian culinary worlds as chopsticks are. Named after the Japanese word bento which roughly translates to “convenient,” these boxes were used as early as the 5th Century, as containers for food taken outdoors by farmers, hunters, and warriors.
Initially, bento was a small bag used to store dried rice that was either eaten that way or rehydrated. Years later, wooden lacquered bento boxes that adapted from farmers’ seed boxes were used to store food at gatherings and parties, tea ceremonies, travel lunches, picnics, and excursions.
The financial insecurities that trailed World War 1 made bento boxes grow to become a status symbol since only the rich could afford them. It being a status symbol affected its popularity but several decades later, much after the Second World War, and the global economy stabilized, Japanese and citizens of other countries adopted bento lunch boxes as a food container of choice.
Today, bento boxes have evolved from the convenient, functional food containers which were made from wooden lacquered boxes to become ornate, plastic containers popular in cultural and social gatherings like festivals, religious holidays or events.
In Japan, there are lunch boxes competition that often takes place. Similarly, one such event “The 51st Lunch Box” was held at Keio Department Store last weekend.
People who can make good lunches from all over the country came there and were competing. The number one place last year was Hokuriku Shinkansen Station. And what a remarkable win – fully deserved. What kind of high-quality fish and crab used to make a bento box; one word – UNFORGETTABLE.
This year who secured the first place is from Hokkaido, He prepared a yummy large bowl of Odama and won to secure this year’s position. I am struggling to find an accurate word to describe the taste, delicious does not to justice to it. Anyways, It was so Ah-mazingly yummy that I was able to eat lunch for five generations without losing hand.
We also had roast beef sushi, steak and rice and rice. My favorite food though is smoked mackerel stuffed with rice and fish, that is, sushi. The last thing we had was a cream paste desert. Cream paste is assembled by divided into two layers, one is milk cream, the other is egg cream. The mixture was super delectable. I highly recommend this place and please do visit this place if you have time by all means.
We cannot control ourselves from visiting these places, last weekend, my friends and I went to the train Station Lunchbox Competition. Obento shops from all around Japan participated in the competition.
I absolutely loved the smoked salmon served at this lunchbox competition.
#2 LUNCH TIME: Bento – lunch box
Lunch box or bento has been a major part of Japanese culture and it is still there. People who travel from one city or another they often purchase bento/lunch box when they ride a bullet train called Shinkansen. On one of my trip from Tokyo to Kyoto I purchased a Yonezawa beef bento or beef lunchbox.
I often try these bento boxes for taste testing or I am travelling. I can rank this Yonezawa bento as one of the best tasting lunch box I ever had. Being so delicious it found a spot in my Lunch box ranking.
If you’re looking to taste Japanese home-cooked food, then these boxes will play their role efficiently.
#3 LUNCH TIME: MATSUZAKA BEEF SANDWICH
Beef and one of the overhyped beefs is Kobe. Undoubtedly Kobe beef is remarkable, and its texture and taste surpass any local or high quality beef around the world but as the diamonds are rare so is this beef quality. It can outrun Kobe in the competition – its Matsuzaka Beef.
Its originates from Mie Prefecture and it is only found in Kyoto and Mie Prefecture. So, finding this beef in Tokyo is not really possible. The bento box of Matsuzaka beef lingered on my mind for months. I cannot wait to travel to Kyoto to just grab these.