Bento means portable food that can be eaten outside.
There are two kinds of bento; one is homemade and the other is sold at stores.
Different names are given depending on the purpose of the bento. Ieben are carried from home. kaiben is bento that is bought. Aisai bento is made by a loving wife. Soraben is bento sold at the airport to be eaten on an air flight.
Bento culture in Japan is long and waka poetry of the Heian era (794 to 1185 AD) described how cooked rice was carried. The origin of the word is a slang word “bentou” that meant advantageous or convenient in China’s Nan Song period (1127 to 1279 AD).
Bento is made of rice and dishes
Rice in bento is usually plain rice, but can be takikomi gohan (boiled rice seasoned with soy sauce and mixed with meat or seafood and savory vegetables), maze gohan (rice mixed with seasoned and cooked ingredients), or black sesame, seaweed or food boiled down with soy source on plain rice.
Usually small amount of many non-wet dishes are packed. Typically they are fried foods such as tonkatsu, croquettes, or tempura; broiled dishes such as yakitori, grilled fish, or ginger pork; salads such as potato salad, vegetable salad, or harusame (vermicelli) salad; Japanese dishes such as nikujaga, gomokuni, boiled beans, or simmered fish; western dishes such as hamburger steak, stuffed cabbage, cold beef, or chicken cooked in tomato; and Chinese dishes such as pepper steak, twice cooked pork, gyoza (jaozi), or sweet-and-sour pork.
Some households hand make every dish, but others often use ready-made frozen dishes. Some parents put a lot of effort in making so-called artistic “Chara ben” (bento made to look like the characters of manga or anime, etc.) using ingredients to portray characters or letters.
In case of purchased bento, kaiben, many people buy it from bento chains like Hot Motto or Origin Bento or convenience stores, but food trucks offering restaurant-quality bento have started to appear in busy business areas.
Bento prepared by cater