Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

501bentoboxlunches.jpg

501 Bento Lunches: 501 Unique Recipes for Brilliant Bento is a cute little book (about 6 inches / 15cm square, or the size of a small bento box as you can see from the photo). As the title says, it contains 501 bento box meals within its compact covers. If you’ve been a bento fan for any length of time, you’ll probably recognize many of the bentos in the book from blogs and Flickr pages around the web. There’s a brief recipe (in most cases more of an assembly how-to rather than recipes for individual components) for each bento, plus an introductory chapter with a how-to section and more detailed recipes by Amorette Dye, a.k.a. Sakurako Kitsa, one of the better known charaben artists in the English speaking world.

The bentos featured in 501 Bento Lunches lean rather heavily towards the cute and colorful, though not all are charaben/kyaraben. Pros: While you could spend many hours of internet browsing to see all of these bentos online, it’s nice to have them all in one book. Cons: The photos are in full color, but unfortunately the quality does vary a bit, depending on the skill of the photographer. The font used for the recipes is tiny, and to my eyes hard to read. That coupled with the format of the book, which is like one of the pocket-sized art books that make great little gifts rather than a cookbook, it might be hard to use this as an actual cookbook in the kitchen. However, it can provide hours and hours of colorful inspiration for your future bento creations.

(Full disclosure: I was invited to contribute my bentos to this book, but declined.)

  • Format/Size: Paperback, 288 pages, about 6 inches/15cm square
  • Publisher: Graffito Books
  • Amazon.com link; Amazon UK link (On Amazon UK it’s still called ‘500 Bento Lunches’ - they must have added one before the book went to print.)

The giveaway part!

I’m giving away one copy of 501 Bento Lunches, courtesy of the publisher, Graffito Books - the copy you see in the photo, minus the chopsticks. If you’d like a chance at it, just leave a comment to this post. To make it interesting (because as with all the giveaways around here, I think just a bunch of “please enter me” comments are boring) tell us what your one favorite bento making tool is. Is it an egg mold? Cookie cutter? Favorite knife? If you can link to a photo, all the better!

Deadline: Your comment must be posted here on or before 23:59:59 of Tuesday, July 7th.

Eligibility: Anyone!

The giveaway is now closed. The winner will be announced very shortly! Thank you to all for entering!

For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or by email (more about subscriptions).

And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.

213 comments

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Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Oooh I'd love to win!

It's lame and kitsch, but I love my Hello Kitty egg mould. I should add, I'm old enough to know better.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

my favourite would be my japanese picklemaker i bought in tokyo 5 years ago....its plastic with a screw down lid so you can change the pressure you put on the veg to be picked

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favourite tool would have to be my silicone cupcake cases. They are brightly coloured, you can fill them with a myriad of foods and sauces for bentos and still use them for making cupcakes without wasting dozens of paper cases! :3

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

hey maki
One of my bento-toy would be... uh, that's a thinker.
Maybe my rice- sandwich maker. I dont use it too often, but i do LOVE it. And the bf too, now that he tasted rice sandwiches, he loves them too. The other day, we were on the high-speed train back from Paris, and out of the blue, he said - you know what I would loooove right now?
you got the answer, tight?

http://frenchbento.canalblog.com/archives/pas_a_pas__le_sandwich_de_riz/...

bye!
mook from France

cook-toy

hey maki
One of my bento-toy would be... uh, that's a thinker.
Maybe my rice- sandwich maker. I dont use it too often, but i do LOVE it. And the bf too, now that he tasted rice sandwiches, he loves them too. The other day, we were on the high-speed train back from Paris, and out of the blue, he said - you know what I would loooove right now?
you got the answer, tight?

http://frenchbento.canalblog.com/archives/pas_a_pas__le_sandwich_de_riz/...

bye!
mook from France

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I have a whole tonne of bento stuff but my favourite things include: My Hello Kitty Bento Box in the shape of Kitty's head, egg molds (hubby LOVES them!, Onigiri makers (although I have yet to use them completely successfully), and the tonnes of little bottles I use for packing sauces in. I fill them and keep them in the fridge for easy packing and they include Mayo, Ketchup, Soy, Hot Chilli Sauce in pigs, bottles, and fish!

I would love to have a copy of this book, as I think it would be good for inspiration!
Thanks for putting together the contest Maki!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I have this tray with little compartments that I use to hold the food before actually putting them into the lunchbox. Great time saver and very convenient. I also love using steel chopsticks to prepare my dosirak.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I'm totally in! My favorite bento tool you say? Hmm... Probably my onigiri shaper, I would have yucky looking rice without it, and where's the fun in that?

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Hi!

I have been snooking around at Just bento for quite some time now, and have been enjoying it extremely much! I love making bento, and your site has given me so much inspiration. When I get home from my vacation I feel ready to make a lot of new dishes and brighten up my bento!

I just wanted to say that first, but to the point: I think my favorite bento tools right now are some colourful ice-cream cups chaped like flowers that I collected by eating enormous amounts of ice-cream some time ago. They are the perfect size for my bento box, and have an extremely cute shape and colour. I fill them with everything from frozen fruit to veggies to egg to meat. They are perfect!

Ana

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

my girlfriend's ceramic bladed mandoline slicer

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I have two favorites. They are my cookie cutters and egg molds. My kids really enjoy having fun shapes in their lunches. When I don't put their food into fun shapes, they are really disappointed.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I've never made a Bento before, in fact I'm very new to this but I think if I was going to use something I'd most likely end up using my Bench Made Mini Ambush knife. http://meaganlupin.deviantart.com/art/Mini-Ambush-117433204 There is a picture of my knife. =]

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I like my silicone cups. Bright fun colors always look good.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

my favorite bento tool is miniature anything! mini is so cute! I love the mini spice holders, mini pans, mini onigiri molds, mini cutters, mini chopsticks, etc.

it is hard for me to keep remembering to make time to make bento, but whenever I do make bento, it is so fun!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

i haven't had much luck and patience creating a complete bento box. but looking at the neat and appealing picture on the cover of this book, I'm starting to get hungry and am motivated by hunger! my favourite tool would be a makisu, a sushi making mat! what a simple yet amazing tool to keep u rolling!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Hi! I just started making bentos, and I live in a place where I don't have many special tools. But after reading the article about it, I love using Ziplock bags to make onigiri. I've never made them before, and the method was really easy! So I guess a ziplock bag is my favorite tool. Does that count? ^_^

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite bento-making tool has to be my new non-stick skillet. I tried to do the cute things featured here on the site with my old skillet, and it just became a stuck-on burnt mess. But ever since I got my new skillet, I've been making dumplings and tamagoyaki and everything else with ease! I can't believe I tried to stick it out so long with something that grabbed hold of everything I tried to cook!

If I could find them again, I have a set of small sakura-shaped cookie cutters that I'd really love to employ in my bento-making, but they seem to have disappeared since my wedding... :(

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I have yet to make a Bento, but I am planning on buying a few things soon to try making one myself. I think if I had made a Bento my favorite tool would either the pot sticker maker that I'm planing on getting OR my Bench Made Mini Ambush Knife. I know it's not the greatest knife ever but it works pretty well. =] Here's a picture!

Photobucket

^_^

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

wow, so many interesting comments^^
my favorite bento making tool is a small colander strainer which I use every day. As I try to make healthier meals and therefore use as many parboiled vegetables, I keep it easy to access and in sight all the time, to remind me to use it when draing the veggies. It makes the task easy and quick and what's more makes me cook parboiled veggies more that fried.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My Zojirushi rice maker is my best friend, for bentos and so many other things (polenta, oatmeal, cracked wheat, rice pudding, poached fruit...). I definitely wouldn't make bento all the time if I had to babysit a pot on the stove. And I especially love being able to set it the night before.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Hmmm... I tried adding the page for my Facebook bento photo album, not sure if you can access it or not ^^

I would love to win the book, I haven't done much (or any really) charaben... the face cutters/accessories are so expensive and I'm not sure I'll spend more than 20 minutes on each bento, putting eyes using tweezers!

I have to say for my "practical" bento boxes, my favorite tool has to be egg shapers or the dinosaur crust cutter (supposed to be for bread but I use it on omelet and rice!) ^^

Thank you!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite tools are the bento boxes themselves. I have several real cute ones that I like to use. The only other specific tool I use are my sushi/onigiri molds. I have other bento tools but they just collect dust in my bento drawer.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite tool is this mini mircowave steamer I swear this thing has saved my bento more times than I can remember.

It's tiny enough it only takes 1 or 2 minutes to steam veggies or reheat buns. And you can make just a little (perfect for a bento).

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I love bento because it takes the meal up another notch. I try to look for inspiration via other creations fellow bento crafters share in their blogs. I am always amazed with all the skill and food combinations!

My favorite bento making tool would be the shamoji/flat rice paddle. I can easily shape and place my rice and some other creations without destroying the food. I also enjoy using it because, somehow, it makes me feel I am cooking from the heart and my bento is a presentation of my heart's efforts.

Here's a link to my fav shamoji and the last bento box I used.
*I love the Cookie monster!

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y228/kozajp/DSC01232.jpg

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I'm in. I'd be happy to be the lucky one! :)

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite bento tool has to be my little rice molds. I have some miniature triangles (they work best for making bite-sized onigiri) and more whimsical fish and car shapes which are actually boiled egg shapers repurposed.

I really love my cute chopsticks with little chibi Zebras on them, but I don't suppose those are as much a tool!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Hi--I'm a sansei whose never made bento boxes before but my 3-year-old is now going to summer camp and I must pack his lunches everyday. He usually only eats pb&j on picnics because he's incredibly picky but I can't give him that 5 days in a row! So I've been looking on the web for inspiration and stumbled upon your site. I remember how my mom used to pare my apple quarters to look like a bunny and am trying to devise ways to make his lunch more appealing. Even the comments on your site have been very inspiring to me! I'm going to break out the cookie cutters and try and find a Totoro bento box. It's his favorite movie! I would love to have the book because I need more ideas to try and broaden his diet. He does love rice with furikake so that's a start!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

i am just starting out in the art form of bento making. i'm a HUGE foodie and LOVE to cook at home. i'm looking into books and blogs to help teach and inspire me. i'm really excited to explore this new art!!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

It doesn't really count as a tool, but I love my http://lunchsense.com/ lunch boxes! I'm so much better at packing my lunch AND actually eating it now that I have these! Oh, yeah, and I'd like to enter the drawing :)

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite making bento tool is my hands ^ ^ I dunno when I make rice balls I know there homemade (duuh) I know it sounds silly but it is:P oh and my second is my star cutter which I also make for rice star !!:D

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favourite bento making tool would probably be the onigiri molds! I love onigiri! They're so yummy :3

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favourite bento tool would have to be....

Nori - you can make so many designs with it!!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Best time saver tools for making bento are the various shaped vegetable cutters. A sharp chef knife is a must too.
Tweezers make life a lot easier when decorating with small cutouts.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I love the small pan my parents gave me for x-mas, since it belongs to me, and is just small enough to cook for myselfe, or my sisters. :D

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite Bento tools will be the smiley face nori punches, food picks and any two tier bento boxes. The first two brightens up the appearances of any ingredients instantly and they are easy and quick to use and for the Bento Boxes, more compartments is always better! Making Bento is a very fun hobby and packing up one makes me feel content and the person eating is appreciate me more!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I would really love a copy of the book!!!
My favourite tool would definitely be my 20cm Kasumi knife which made dicing meat and slicing vegetables a breeze :)

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I really don't have any interest in picking up the book, but my favourite bento tool is the Internet.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favourite kitchen item is a very good sharp knife those silicone cups that makes bentos more organized ^^
I also love my pancake frying pan. Basically i love my kitchen!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite bento-making tool is probably the square "sushi" press my Mom bought me for Christmas. I do have the bamboo mat too, but for time, and precise measuring (restricted diet), I really enjoy using the square "sushi" press - it makes "sushi" making very easy for me.

Just last night for "lunch" at 2am, I had "sushi" made with a total of 1/2 cup of rice, and a strip of steak with some wasabi dabbed on top before putting on the top layer of rice. I also like making a "dessert" version with umeboshi paste as the middle layer. And of course, all have the nori exterior. My fish-fillet knife makes quick work of slicing through the layered combinations without tearing the nori up.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

Hi,
I was very surprised when I got the newsletter. Some weeks ago I made an acquisition request to our library. Last Friday one of the librarians came to me waving with the book. The book is really cool, so many bentos, my head is full of new ideas (and my writing pad, too!) As I am from Germany it is kind of difficult to understand some of the words, because the ingredients are not sold here. Too bad the book itself is already sold out here... :(

Our favourite tool are the rice moulds. We have every form we could find on j-list, because my sister loves to make onigiri (especially in heart shape for her boyfriend). When we are in a hurry its a fast way to make nice rice balls and so on for our bentos. :)

~Nadine

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

A cute little book. I have it. But the cute size is somewhat of a hindrance to be of any use, and the typeface is indeed tiny. Not something that you could actually cook from. It's also more about the cute Bento than the traditional ones. A little bit of a disappointment to me. I do have other Bento cookbooks. And unless you are already well acquainted with Bento recipes, like the ones you get on this site, the book is more like a compilation of suggestions and pretty pictures.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I just started making bentos, and my fav tool is still the onigiri rice mold. Happy rice shapes!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

While I have a lot of cute & coloriful bento-making tools, the one I use the most is my roll of 15 cm plastic wrap that I bought at Daiso. It's just right for wrapping musubi, lining a mold, or wrapping a small portion of food for the freezer. No waste. No wrestling with cling wrap as it comes off of the roll. I have a roll of 22 cm plastic wrap, but some how, I don't use it as often.

The brand is Asahi Kasei. Does anyone know if this is microwaveable?

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My hands! Esp. in the mornings there is not much time to take out all the appropriate equipment, sometimes in my haste I even attempt to flip food on the frying pan- ouch! Ofc, hands are always washed with Dettol before cooking/assembling commences!

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite tool would be my sushi mold--it makes rice logs for me. :D

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

My favorite bento item is my organizer. It's an old discarded department store display fixture for "Spanx" bras. I rescued it from the trash bin and decided to recycle and reuse. Now it's an excellent storage tool for all the bento tools I use. Picks, cups, cutters, etc.
This box keeps me organized and my tools sanitary which speeds up my bento making process.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/hapabento/3606678696/in/set-721576171147224...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/hapabento/3606559292/in/set-721576171147224...

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I have an old sandwich press that has been re-purposed. It has four little triangle compartments (well, technically two square compartments, each subdivided into two triangles for American-style grill-cheese sandwiches). They are absolutely perfect for won ton wrappers with leftovers, frying chicken, heating up rice, etc. My other favorite tool is a silicone ice-cube tray that is awesome for molding rice into faux onigiri.

Giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I know this is horrible and sushi masters would be *scandalized*, but right now my favorite little tool is a makizushi roll. I can pack in the rice, the insides and more rice-- tah dah! A whole roll ready to wrap up with nori.

Hey, I'm an uncoordinated beginner. I'll eventually stop cheating. ;)

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

definitely my hello kitty bento box made out of bamboo.

Re: Book review and giveaway: 501 Bento Box Lunches

I was thinking that the rice cooker would be my favored tool, but in reality, I think it's my heatproof spatula and a pair of chopsticks. Both are things to cook with, and then manipulate and place the food.