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501 Bento Lunches: 501 Unique Recipes for Brilliant Bento Paperback – April 1, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Long on ideas but short on recipes, this guide to eye-catching bento box lunches delivers its promised 501 variants on the iconic Japanese single-portion takeout meal, even if the final product may be out of reach for its readers. Roughly organized by theme-art, cute, colorful, traditional, stylish, holidays-contributors provide plenty of ideas for vibrant, healthy lunches. After a brief overview of basics from Dye-quick assembly, packing for maximum efficiency-the volume sets some high standards with showpieces featuring edible geese made out of mushrooms and a whimsical green eggs-and-ham meal, before moving to more traditional fare incorporating sushi, teriyaki chicken and yakitori. Menus stretch beyond the Pacific rim, with easy-to-assemble staples like beef stew and, for younger diners, sandwiches in the shape of scowls or grins. Some empty-the-fridge scavenger hunts (wraps, taco kits) can feel like little more than repackaged leftovers, and some impractical suggestions (french fries, eggs or pancakes, arcane ingredients) prove misleading. Still, these are the exceptions to the rule, which includes practical instructions, emphasizes assembly rather than preparation, and employs a wide range of kitchen tools. Those well-versed in Japanese cuisine and who own lots of culinary doodads will benefit most; novice cooks looking for simple, whimsical school lunches will likely be overwhelmed.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Most Americans may be unfamiliar with bento boxes. Ubiquitous in Japan, these lacquered boxes or partitioned trays serve to pack lunches or dinners for easy transportation. Mothers pack bento boxes with children’s school meals, and travelers grab prepackaged boxes at station kiosks before boarding trains. This little book aims to educate Westerners in the art of the bento box. Although it has a few brief recipes for the pictured foods, they are too abstract for those not adept in Japanese culinary practice. The book’s real value lies in its illustrations, which show what the fertile imagination can do to turn the bento box into a panoply of artistic invention. Rice takes on fantastic hues, vegetables get carved into just about every conceivable shape, and meats combine to create animal shapes, flower arrangements, echoes of museum paintings, and many, many more. Food stylists can glean plenty of ideas here. --Mark Knoblauch
Top customer reviews
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In buying this book, I was hoping for good pictorial ideas in laying out my bentos, as well as more suggestions, much like some of the Japanese bento books that were published (sections on actual bentos, what goes in them and recipes for the main stuff in them. then a seperate section on "fillers" on the side). And of course, I constantly buy recipe books and foodie books for the sake of the photography on them.
On those aspects, I was mostly disappointed. While it did fulfil my need for ideas, which can also be easily quenched online, the photography was a sad failure. I have seen some of the photos online before, and expected the book to at least replicate the quality of the pictures. what turned out was darker, sometimes murkier, than the original photos on the internet.
The recipes were almost non-existent. what is there is a bare, rushed "how to throw this together" type of instructions that is no more than 30 words or so on an average. and sometimes, not even that.
While sections were divided up into cute bentos, pictorial bentos, etc, there really isn't much difference between one section to the other.
yes, there is 501 bentos in there I believe, but I think I get more out of surfing the internet and copying and pasting them into word documents than having this book.
This book is a tiny gem, with every dish a work of art. If you like to cook, especially if you are a fan of Asian cooking, particularly Bento style, BUY THIS BOOK.
I LOVE this bento book, it is really a bento idea book and does a remarkable job at that. I highly recommend this book and I have been making bento and collecting bento boxes for many years. This has some cute bento but also other kinds of bento too. The idea is to stimulate YOUR OWN CREATIVITY which this does in spades.
I am so happy I ignored the other reviews here and hope that bento enthusiasts will ignore them too and buy this book. You will not be disappointed and you will find the urge to create bento increased by tenfold!
That's right, this is a food-art book for kids. Not a recipe book. Now if you are into making some nauseatingly cute lunches then you NEED this book! If you are looking for creative recipes that work in bento boxes? Save your money, this book has nothing to offer you at all.
Most recent customer reviews
That being said, I am not happy at all with the way the book turned out.Read more