Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop rice) Bento, a higher end takeout bento

I’m busy getting ready for the photo shoot for the bento cookbook, which starts next week, so I don’t have a lot of time for long posts at the moment. So I thought I’d do a brief write up of this bento I had for lunch today. It’s a good example of a higher-end takeout bento, of the kind you might buy in the food hall of a department store, at specialized stores or stalls in the bigger train stations, and so on. They are of a much better class of bento than supermarket bentos or combini bentos. They are also more expensive of course - the one here is 1,000 yen, compared to the 400-600 yen you might spend for a supermarket or combini bento.

Kiyoken hotate (scallop) bento

This bento is from a famous Yokohama establishment called Kiyoken, spelled in kanji 崎陽軒 (Japanese only website). Their primary claim to fame is shumai/siumai dumplings, but they also make other foods, including bentos. Kiyoken bentos and shumai dumpling gift sets are available in some department store food halls (I got mine in the fabulous food hall of the Yokohama Takashimaya department store, of which I’ll have a lot more at a later time), as well as several major train stations in the Tokyo/Kanto region, including Tokyo, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Shinagawa, Shin Yokohama and of course Yokohama stations.

The hexagonal bento box is held together with a gold elastic band. The box is made of microwaveable polyurethane type material that is printed with fake wood grain. (I guess real wood is too expensive these days…) The lid is printed with the name of the bento (Hotate Gohan Bento) and the Kiyoken name/logo.

So let’s open up the box…

Kiyoken hotate (scallop) bento

The contents are protected by a thin plastic sheet that is stuck onto the rim of the lid. Chopsticks and a smal otefuki (moistened napkin) are included.

Kiyoken hotate (scallop) bento

In the leftside top section are: Two of Kiyoken’s famous shumai dumplings, a piece of salted salmon, some kind of sesame-flavored side dish with crabstick (surimi), a small soy sauce bottle and a mustard packet for the shumai. In the rightside top section: A tiny pink gyuuhi maki (mochi dumpling filled with sweet azuki paste), a whole fried shrimp, a steamed satoimo (taro root) with miso, stewed carrot (cut into a flower shape of course), shiitake mushroom, konnyaku and whole scallop, and a small tamagoyaki. In the center compartment is a shrimp mixture wrapped and steamed in a yuba (a type of slightly chewy tofu skin). And in the big compartment is some steamed sweet or mochi rice that was redolent with the flavor of scallops, the star of this bento.

The bento was absolutely delicious, and well worth the 1,000 yen price. Here’s a closeup of the shumai:

Kiyoken hotate (scallop) bento

The tiny dessert dumpling perfectly formed, soft and sweet without being cloying.

Kiyoken hotate (scallop) bento

When you consider the price of eating lunch in any major city, 1,000 yen doesn’t really seem that high to me - what do you think?

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22 comments

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Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

Wow that is absolutely amazing... Thanks for sharing, it's inspirational.

I'm not shure about the cost for I don't know how much a yen's worth...

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

I love how it looks like ! That seems to be so tasty !!
As you said it's inspirational.
loi scellier

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

Hi mombento!
a yen is worth (very roughly) a US cent, so 1,000yen is currently just under 10 dollars - sorry! I meant just over $10

Maki
Even though 1,000yen represents value for money for this kind of bento in my book, I have to admit that I've only ever bought this kind of high end box when its been heavily discounted just before the store closes at night. Your photos are reminding me how well one can eat on a budget in urban Japan - I'm seeing a 600yen evening supper! No wonder I always gain weight whenever I go to Tokyo...

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

Wow, that, to me, seems very cheap for that great food....

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

I love this! It's so inspiring and I would happily pay 1000yen for it! Id buy something like this much more often!
I think I am going to make some bento this weekend! I miss it! I wish that there was more of a culture of this kind of food being widely avaliable in the UK, it so EXCITING!

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

I think it looks absolutely delicious!!
My mouth was watering just with the pictures, but when I read the description, I was truly jealous!!

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

oooh, lovely!
i wonder what the green herb sprinkled on the rice is?
rehfilet

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

The green stuff was aonori, a type of bright green nori seaweed that's often sprinkled onto okonomiyaki, takoyaki, yakisoba and such.

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

For $11.00 US its a bargain for something so beautiful and tasty! And I'd resue the box for home bento if I could.

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

This looks lovely! I haven't been to Japan in the past 5 years, but for a big city, 1000 yen seems fine (there are obviously cheaper lunch options, but once in a while...). Then again, I live in New York, so my general idea of what is expensive/not expensive is pretty skewed. :D

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

Just googled 1000 yen = 11.00 US Dollars. I live in Dallas & I try not to go over $12.00 for lunch (tip included) so $11.00 for take out is fabulous. I love the bento container if I could reuse it, that would be a plus. It's so pretty. I love your blogs & have posted your blog address in my last blog post. I wish you the best of luck, I hope to complete my cookbook by June 2011.
ps what type of camera did you use for these photos....their great.

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

Hi Darlene, for these photos I used my trusty little Sony DSC-W300, because I was in a hurry to eat :) I did a bit of Photoshopping to adjust the color balance etc. later. Some other shots or when I have the time I use a Nikon D700.

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

So pretty! Here in Santa Barbara, Ca. where I live, and everything is a bit pricy because it's a tourist-town, I'm happy if I can get a fast-food meal for under $10 (well, happy may not be the word when I'm forced to fast-food eating, but I digress...). I would *love* to have the opportunity to eat that wonderful looking meal instead!

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

That is a gorgeous bento! Both food- and presentation-wise. Before getting on a train in Japan, my husband and I often splurge on a bento like this, and then share it. It is a lot of food. Luckily, he likes some items and I like others; so nothing goes to waste. I like to travel with a small bento box packed with plastic flatware, collapsible chopsticks, festive cocktail napkins and packaged wet wipes. Add a couple of drinks from the train cart lady and we dine quite nicely.

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

Beautiful! Now I'm hungry.
I would be willing to pay that price or even more for the lovely setup only. I bought that kind of bento a few times from food halls when visiting Tokyo and they were well worth the money every time!
What I like about the high-end bentos is that you get so many different things in one box so it's an opportunity to taste lot of flavors by buying just one box!

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

this looks absolutely delicious! I would have never thought to look at these since they look so expensive, but the price is actually great!

I would say the odds and ends I wound up getting @ the konbini were about the same price, and never as delicious as this looks! (in fact, I got sick from a konbini bento once)

yummy!

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

that is beautiful. i'm really enjoying your posts from japan. like little postcards.

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

Hi Maki,

This is absolutely tantalizing. I just wanted to drop you a note and let you know I just remembered what you said about your Mom. I definitely don't mean to pry but I hope she is all right and recovering from whatever was happening.

MBK

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

Hi Maegan, thank you for your concern! My mom is back from the hospital after major surgery, and recovering very well!

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

Amazing! Not expensive at all for what you get: variety, presentation, quantity, taste, etc. It would be worth more in the US for sure. Thank you for the post. It's my first time seeing this and I really want to try it!

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

That bento looks sooo good. Amazing site, by the way! You've inspired me to make bento every day before I go to college. Thanks for all the great tips/recipes. :D

Re: Bento tidbits from Japan: Kiyoken Hotate Gohan (scallop ...

That looks absolutely delicious. And it does seem like a reasonable price for something so fancy - I can get a dine-in bento style lunch of SLIGHTLY lower quality (the food is AMAZING but there just isn't as much variety) here in Detroit for about 2/3 the price from Wasabi, which is a lovely Korean/Japanese fusion restaurant. Nothing like the variety in that box though! I love bento lunches where you end up with one of each of what seems like EVERYTHING. The one I just made myself just has tamagoyaki and broccoli and rice, none of which I will be very happy about when I eat it because I have a swollen tonsil :(

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