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What Is a Bento? January 7, 2019

Honolulu, Honolulu
What Is a Bento?, Honolulu, Hawaii

Whether you’re eating at a sushi bar or catering from a Japanese restaurant, ordering a bento box is one of the most fun and attractive options. This way of packing and presenting food is traditional in Japan and loved around the world. Here’s what makes this approach unique.


The idea of a portable meal was born over 800 years ago in Japan, but bento boxes in their modern form took several hundred years to appear. The first lacquered bento boxes were designed and used between 1568 and 1600. They became much more popular during the Edo period shortly afterward. Today, you can still find traditional, decorative wooden lacquered boxes, or opt for colorful, washable plastic ones.

A Japanese Meal in a Box

cateringA bento box is a dish which may be divided into compartments, each filled with different types of food. It generally includes rice, a protein, and pickled or fresh vegetables. The box itself can be an attractive, reusable dish or a disposable plastic one. Bento boxes can be packed at home, but they’re are also served by restaurants and catering companies. This traditional meal style is convenient, provides a balanced meal, and is fun to make and eat.

Catering to Your Tastes

Bento box meals are frequently designed into fun characters or scenes. One popular approach is to use the rice, vegetables, sauces, seasonings, and other elements of the box to create a picture such as a landscape, a building, or an object. Animals can be created by shaping the rice and using the pickled vegetables and nori clippings as features.


For bento boxes and other authentic Japanese dishes, visit Natsunoya Tea House in Honolulu, HI. With almost 100 years of experience, they have earned a reputation for maintaining traditions and indulging nostalgia. Available for lunch and dinner, guests can enjoy a meal at the sushi bar or dine in a private room for an event or banquet. Send a message online or call (808) 595-4488 to speak with a team member about catering and reservations.

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