Bento Boxes have a rich history in Japan. Looking back to the 5th century, Japanese workers used to pack their lunches in boxes and bring them to the fields. It is designed to be like a seed box, similar to what farmers use to drop seeds in their fields. It features multiple compartments to hold different types of food, such as rice, vegetables, and fish. Eventually, there were workers from other countries using the bento boxes. Workers from China, Korea, the Philippines, and more were carrying these convenient boxes to hold their meals. In fact, “bento” comes from a slang term which means “convenient.” The bento boxes had variations between regions and countries, and they became a popular phenomenon. They started to become prominent at cultural gatherings, festivals, theater, and holdiays.
Bento was originally made from wood or basket material, but in the early 1900’s it transitioned to aluminum. During this time, bento was considered as a status item that showed luxury rather than a convenient lunch. After World War I, Japan was wrought with economic troubles and inequality. Rich families could send their children to school with these aluminum bento boxes, but poor families could not afford such a luxury.
Eventually, in the 1980’s, bento surged back to popularity as TV dinners surged in sales. Convenient dishes were the new norm, and bento had the perfect formula. Fast-forward to the 90’s, and bento boxes were being used to create art, with faces and pop-culture icons being recreated in the food. Still today this is a cultural phenomenon that surfaces on Instagram and Pinterest daily.
Here at Lucky Samurai, the bento box is served traditionally with a wide variety of food to choose from. The bento box is served with the familiar compartments to hold various types of food, such as rice, meat, and vegetables. The boxes come in two different sizes, small and large. Within these sizes there are many combinations, some focusing more on vegetables or sushi, and some focusing more on the teriyaki items. Each box is served with a choice of an extra appetizer or side. These delicious choices are items such as edamame, Thai chicken peanut salad, Thai cucumbers, and sweet potato fries. The bento boxes are a deal that no one should pass up. There are so many combinations you could make that you can share or eat yourself!