Bento box and accessories review: monbento bento boxes and accessories from France
As the popularity of bento boxes spreads around the world, bento box and accessory manufacturers are also becoming more international. One of the most interesting bento box makers is monbento. Their headquarters are in Clermont-Ferrand, France, and their site proudly proclaims that their products are designed in France.
monbento boxes come in a variety of chic, modern and bright colors, and you can even specify your own color combinations (more on that later).
Everything about a monbento box is classy, even the box it comes packaged in. This is a red 2-tier model; each layer has a 500ml capacity, for a total of 1000ml for both layers. (They also have single-layer 500ml boxes.)
This is an orange model, that was sent to me by monbento for review. (I actually bought the red one for myself.) I'm not an orange kind of person but the orange that monbento uses is really nice. What makes the bentos look and feel even nicer is that they have a gorgeous matte finish. (Note: the standard bento band color is now grey instead of the black shown here.)
Here's the bento un-stacked. There's an outer lid, plus an inner lid for both of the layers. (Note: the inner lids are now grey in the standard configurations instead of the black shown here.)
The inner lids have small capped lids so that they can be vented when you want to microwave your bento. The lid is color coordinated with the bento, which is nice. The entire box, including the lids, is microwave and dishwasher safe.
This is the inside. It comes with one moveable divider in one of the compartments.
monbento sauce cups
The monbento sauce cups are also very well made. They come in sets of two in a variety of color combinations that match the bento boxes. Each pot holds 20ml.
What makes these pots special, besides their cuteness, is that the lids screw on securely and have 2 little silicone gaskets, which make them pretty leakproof. They will leak if you carry them sideways or upside down for a length of time, but if you carry the bento box right way up (as you should really, to avoid a mess) they are about as secure as any sauce pots I've seen.
monbento cutlery set
monbento makes two kinds of utensils: color coordinated chopsticks, and a metal cutlery set. I was sent the cutlery set for review. There's a fork, spoon and knife, all packaged neatly in a plastic case with a snap-on lid.
The cutlery is small, but not too small as to be unusable. It kind of reminds me of the nice cutlery you used to find with airline meals. They are also very sturdy metal, so you don't have a feeling they're going to bend or anything while you're using them.
a packed monbento
So here I filled up a monbento with a fairly standard bento for me. The two tiers are quite easy to pack. I put things I might want to heat up in the bottom compartment, and salad and fruit type things in the top compartment. (The sauce lids are off just to show the insides.) One thing to keep in mind is that if you pack both layers very tightly with calorie-dense foods like rice and you are trying to watch your intake (i.e. you're on a diet), 1000ml is quite a lot. So you'll want to pack those dense foods in maybe just one layer, and fill up with vegetables or something.
Cleanup was very easy too since I could just throw everything in the dishwasher. I put everythning in the top rack, with the little bits in a basket.
monbento mold/inner divider set
This last accessory is brand new and very interesting: the monbento mold set. The set comes with 3 pieces: 2 small cups and a larger one, all made of silicone that is heat-safe up to 240°C/464°F. It comes in this classy grey, blue and fuschia combination.
The smaller cups fit perfectly into one of the monbento box layers, so they can be used as dividers.
The bigger mold however does not work as a box liner, since it has a big lip all around.
This mold is meant for cooking things in, that fit perfectly into a monbento box. It has a slightly smaller capacity than the box itself at around 450ml. You could use the small molds/cups for cooking too, since they're made of the same heatproof silicone material.
Now, monbento used to make a double-mold, which I have in my collection, but they no longer manufacture it. It's the fuschia one here. I've been experimenting with cooking things in the molds - here I'm trying out cake salé, a savory "cake" (like a quickbread in the U.S.) of the type you see sold quite often at markets in France.
As you can see, the mold produces a flat little cake that fits perfectly in the boxes. (I'll have the recipe for the cake up on the site soon.) I can see the mold being used for many other things...what about a baked omelette for example? I'm going to continue experimenting and post the good results.
I guess the one quibble I have with the mold is that it's small, so baking something in it in a big oven feels very wasteful somehow. If you have a toaster oven with baking functions that might work out better. I may try using it in a frying pan too, as well as the smaller cups. In any case it's a really good idea in principle.
The monbento bento boxes and accessories: Pros and cons
- Beautiful coordinating colors, sleek, chic designs, nice matte finish
- You can create your own color combinations on their site
- Microwave and dishwasher safe
- 2-tier design of boxes is easy to pack
- Everything feels solidly made
- A bit expensive (but you get what you pay for)
- It would be nice perhaps to have the possibility of buying the big grey mold only for multiple baking
All in all monbento makes great stuff. Besides the items reviewed here they also have bento bands in many colors, bento carrying bags, chopsticks and a few other things.
Where to buy monbento
There are several options for buying monbento products:
1. Directly from monbento
Shipping costs vary depending on where you are. If you're in France you get free shipping if your order exceeds 60 euros. Note: If you live outside of the EU, e.g. in the U.S., you can subtract 20% of the listed price, which is the VAT. You may have to pay customs in your home country but do keep that in mind.
2. From Bento&co
Bento&co carries a good selection of monbento items, starting with their bento boxes of course, as well as sauce pots, chopsticks, the cutlery set and more. If you're on a shopping spree there anyway, or if you're in Japan, it's a good option.
3. From Amazon
The Amazon stores carry a limited selection of monbento items:
(Disclaimer: Some of the items reviewed were sent to us by monbento for review purposes. (The other items were purchased.) We did not receive any compensation for the review and the opinions expressed are my own. The links to the sellers are affiliate links. By making your purchases via these links you help to support the site at no additional cost to you. ^_^)