Thursday, January 29, 2009

How do I love thee, Mr. Bento?

Let me count the ways, since Avie owns Mr. Bento too and we will be sharing our Mr. Bento secrets before too long I hope.

There are two styles of Mr. Bento, a thermally insulated lunch 'system' made by Zojirushi (you love their rice cooker, and their seed grinder; now own their lunchbox!).

The photo above shows both; the one on the left is Jan's and has 4 compartments & a 'spork' eating utensil along with a handy carrying case; the one on the right is 3 compartments with a space-age chopstick carrier outside. Very nice chopsticks with hatching on the tips to make it easier to pick up noodles.

Here are the inner containers, the same general type for both:

The bottom two have insulated lids, which when combined with the insulation in the outer canister, will keep foods hot for long hours. They should stack up inside the container from hottest to coolest: soup on the bottom, rice and veggies and/or meat, salad or fruit, and the all-important DESSERT.
I hope I have not indicated my personal priorities for lunch with this cool and objective listing.

Actually that little soup container is the best thing about Mr. Bento. It does not leak, it holds soup hot, and it holds just enough miso soup to be the perfect lunch accompaniment. You need to clean its gaskets now & then. In addition to the pop-out steam relieving gasket in the center of the lid, there's a ring gasket around the edge.

A chopstick is the perfect instrument for removing the gasket, since you can't cut it as you could if using a knife or fork tine. In the photo just above, my chopstick is pointing at the little notch where you place the chopstick and press gently and pry up to pop out friend gasket.

You can also use that chopstick to press the gasket back in:

Everything gets hand-washed by me even though the containers (not the lids) are dishwasher safe. I don't trust my violent and psychotic dishwasher. Once a week I pop gaskets and let all the components air dry. When spring comes I will place them in a sunny window sill once a week to freshen. (They carry a lot of different foods and spices in a given week.)

Mr. Bento packs a decent amount of food, usually well enough for a morning and afternoon snack plus the centerpiece: your lunch. I love this because I loathe and detest the institutional food of my workplace - it is overpriced and of ghastly quality - and there's nothing else nearby so what I eat in the workday is what I bring. I also love the temperature conservation: hot soup and cool yogurt in the same Mr. Bento, it's delightful.

It is not however very cute. Even my husband is getting interested in adding cuteness to his bento, and wondering whether there's a more cheerful carrying bag, some decals, etc.

We will have to work on the aesthetics of Mr. Bento another time. Spray paint? Glitter glue? Green Bay Packers details? Hello Kitty Brett Favre silhouettes? I see some possibilities.

Here's another photo of the canisters, with my cell phone standing up beside to show scale (they aren't as huge as they look in the top photos):


  1. Thank you oh, great Lily-Sama!!! This is exactly what I needed! I have the Mr Bento like Jan's - the 4 tier type. I will be using it soon now that I know what to do with it! :P

  2. Avie, I'm really glad you have a Mr. Bento. Now I can get inspiration from you! You have the fun concept down. I think the 4-one is best.

  3. Thought that you might be interested in this stuff! I ordered the little "I HEART BENTO" pin to put on my new Mr Bento bag :)