Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fried Rice and a Smart Bento

Have you ever packed your lunch box all just-so, then had to tilt the box to get it to fit in your backpack or briefcase and felt all the contents shift? Well, Japan has the answer! The Smart Bento is designed to fit upright in a bag instead, so contents stay just the way you packed them.

The box has two long, thin layers held together with a matching band. My favorite details include the clever chopsticks that disassemble and fit inside the top lid, and the little touch of sparkle in the plastic.

When I Love Obento! first sent me the Smart Bento to review, I wasn't sure what to pack. I decided that whatever I packed in this small of a bento had to be calorie dense or I wouldn't have enough to eat, so I went with fried brown rice with edamame, grated carrots, and hijiki seaweed.

I used a recipe for Natto or Tempeh Fried Rice from Just Bento. I had planned to use tempeh, but the two stores I usually go to for tempeh were both out (horrors!), so I went with edamame instead.

(The health food store actually had natto, but I've never tasted it before, have heard nightmarish things about it, and at $15.50 a jar I couldn't bring myself to give natto a chance. Anyone want to persuade me?)

In the smaller bottom layer are baby cucumbers, grape tomatoes, and some fresh berries from my garden.

Verdict: I must say this bento box is adorable. I loved the clever way everything fit together and the neat way it stayed upright in my bag. However, on its own this wasn't enough to fill me up, and there's no way I could use it to pack my usual lunch of a large green salad. I can see this box working for those with smaller appetites, or perhaps packed alongside a thermos or another bento container. 4 stars.

(Thanks to Michelle for taking the pictures!)