The tradition of the Bento box
While the Dutch are used to grabbing a cheese sandwich for lunch, the Japanese have a way more impressive way to present their lunch. The Bento box is a traditional Japanese lunch box with several compartments and sometimes different levels to separate the different bites.
Because the Bento box contains a healthy and balanced lunch, it is ideal to take to work or to school. The box covers a complete lunch presented in the most appetizing way. Japanese mothers seem to compete with each other by filling the Bento box as originally and creatively as possible. A traditional Bento holds rice, fish or meat, with pickled or cooked vegetables. Yamazato offers the traditional Shokado Bento box, which contains ‘Hassun’ Japanese delicacies, ‘Tsukuri’ sliced raw fish, ‘Tempura’ deep-fried shrimps, fish and vegetables and ‘Shiizakana’ grilled fillet of beef with Wafu sauce. The Shokado box is served with Japanese rice, miso soup and a dessert.
Tradition of the Bento box
The Japanese have been using the Bento box for centuries. The origins of the Bento box can be traced back to the Kamakura period (1185-1333), which saw the development of hoshi-ii, which literally means ‘dried meal’. This consisted of dried rice carried in a small bag that had to be rehydrated with hot or cold water. Hoshi-ii was used by Japanese leaving their homes to hunt fish or work the fields. The Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1600) saw the introduction of lacquered wooden boxes, which were frequently used at tea parties and during hanami, the celebration of the cherry blossoms. During the prosperous Edo period (1603-1868), the boxes became more refined and were taken on excursions and to the theatre, filled with delicious treats. The Japanese prepare their Bento box at home, taking great care to get the mixture of different tastes and the presentation just right.
Serre’s Bento box
At the Okura, we have come up with a Western equivalent for the traditional Japanese lunch box. In Serre Restaurant, the signature dish of Chef de Cuisine Marc van der Tang is Serre’s Bento box - an elegantly signed walnut box full of delicacies based on the traditional Japanese lunch box. Serre’s Bento box offers a complete and healthy meal in a single serving, including delicate seafood and meat dishes, garnishes of the freshest vegetables and even a dessert. The complete meal can be enjoyed within one hour and is therefore ideal for a (business) lunch. Treat yourself to a culinary surprise with Serre’s Bento box.*
*Please note that the Bento box is only available on special request.