These ultra-practical compartmentalized serving vessels have been used in Japan and other Asian countries for centuries. Now with today’s demand for customized meals, bento boxes are making inroads into other culinary genres.
The name is derived from an ancient Song Dynasty slang word for convenient.
Most foodservice establishments fill the compartments with different foods like salad, noodles, vegetables, and dessert, while some are catching onto the trend of kyaraben (edible fantasy creations—cute characters like riceball baby pandas) that are irresistibly Instagrammable.
The format lends itself to just about any cuisine or restaurant type: school lunches, office deliveries, on-the-go sushi, and barbecue.