Bento box review: Gangnam Style! Gangnam bento boxes from South Korea

Unless you were living as a hermit away from any internet connection last year, you have probably heard of Gangnam Style, the phenomenal video sensation by South Korean entertainer PSY, aka Park Jae-sang, that took over the world. But Gangnam is not just the name of a rap song featuring a geeky looking dude dancing like a madman.. It's also the name of a district in Seoul, South Korea, and that's where this interesting line of bento boxes come from.

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You'll notice right away that unlike most reusable bento boxes, these boxes have slanted sides, rather like some disposable bento boxes. This means that they hold a bit less than they seem to - which is not a bad thing, especially if you're using bentos to try to keep your calories down. The Small size holds 500ml, and the Large holds 900ml, although they feel a lot more bulkier than that somehow. On the plus size, the slanted sides make them a lot easier to wash by hand. You don't have to wash them by hand though since they are totally dishwasher-safe, unlike many other boxes where the lids must be washed by hand.

Here's a view from the top. The boxes have clear plastic lids and colorful contrasting color gaskets, which make the lids pretty waterproof. The color combinations may or may not work for you - besides the white and orange and the chocolate and pink combos shown here, there's also a green/green variety. I was a bit taken aback at first at the brightness of that pink, but now I kind of like it.

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The clips are really large and fit securely to the box. They are a bit hard to snap into place the first few times you use the box, but they do loosen up a bit over time.

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The lid is also equipped with a covered steam vent, so you can put the box into the microwave lid and all - although I might be inclined to remove the lid to preserve the longevity of the gasket.

gangnam-5.jpg Inside, each box has two equally sized inner containers that fit snugly into the box. The inner containers are about the same thickness as the outer boxes, which makes them quite solid - but does make the box overall a bit heavy compared to boxes with thinner and ligher iner compartments. But the inner compartments stand up on their own, which is nice.

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The bigger box also has two equal-size compartments.

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Here I've used the larger (900ml capicity) box for a salad bento. I've filled one side with a pasta and chicken salad, and the other with a green salad with corn salad or mâche and boiled egg, with dressing in the small container (not included with this box). It's really great for bentos of this type, since it's nice and deep. Plus, you could put something you want to heat up in one compartment and something you want to keep cool in the other, and just pop the first compartment in a microwave to heat up.

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Here I tried using the smaller box (500ml) for a more Japanese-style bento, with an onigiri on one side. It kind of works, although you need to work with the slanted nature of the box. (Note, I did tuck in the leaves when I closed the lid.)

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The Gangnam bento box: pros and cons

Pros:

  • Durable and solid feeling; feels very well made, with a nice matte finish
  • Totally microwave and dishwasher safe; steam vent in lid for microwave use
  • Slanted sides may make it easier to handwash
  • Design with a difference
  • Two removable rigid inner compartments
  • Big strong clips to hold the leakproof lid securely

Cons:

  • The slanted sides get a bit of getting used to
  • A bit heavy and bulky feeling compared to bento boxes of similar capacity
  • The colors may not be for everyone (I kind of wish there was a black an white or all-black color combination, which I think might be more usable for a wider audience...)
  • No built in utensils

All in all, there's a lot to like about the Gangnam bento box. I think I'm going to add them to my regular rotation.

The Gangnam bento box costs US $32 for the large (900ml) size, and $25 for the small (500ml) size, and is available from Bento&co.

(Disclaimer: The boxes were provided to JustBento for review purposes. We did not receive any compensation for the review, and the opinions expressed are solely my own.)

More reviews of interesting bento products coming soon!