Having worked my way through the recipes of the Just Bento Cookbook, I thought it was about time I added another bento book to my collection. From the title, this book seemed to promise recipes that would be quick and easy - just the thing for making a quick and delicious packed lunch.
Indeed, there is a good variety of recipes in the book, many of them along the lines of 1-pot stir fries with rice, that are tasty and take, if not quite the ten minutes promised in the title, at least no more than twenty minutes to prepare and assemble. Even so, the book is far from perfect. A lot of the recipes are impossible to reproduce because they require highly specialised ingredients that even those with a local Asian food store may find hard to source - see, for example, swordfish or fiddlehead ferns. I did my best to substitute for similar, available items where possible, but this just led to a lot of sub par dishes that probably didn't resemble what they were supposed to be.
If you're just starting out with bento, then this probably isn't the book to get - I would instead point you to the fabulous Just Bento Cookbook, which has a lot more in the way of introductory tips, plus a wider variety of delicious yet achievable recipes. Nonetheless, there are some good recipes in this book, so if you're looking to expand an existing collection of English-language bento recipes, this is a worthy addition to your bookshelf.
on 18 November 2013
I had heard good things about this book, so as a newbie to the world of bento I thought it would be a good place to start. I was looking for healthy, one-serving bento meals. The Amazon blurb tells us that the author is a "nutritionist and TV chef"--yet there is absolutely no nutritional information in the book, not even an approximate calorie count. Which is odd, if the author is really a nutritionist, she should have at least the calories at her fingertips.
It's a beautiful book to look at, but some of the recipes are a bit nebulous (how much is "one serving" of ramen?) unless you have some cooking experience. Lots of lovely photographs, but few recipes for the size of the pages, and very little in the way of concrete information. Fortunately I have been cooking for many many years, so I can tweak and guesstimate, but for a young person or a new cook, it wouldn't be quite so useful. Over half the pages in the book are given to photographs, with no recipe. It's a paperback, and I don't think it will stand up to much rough handling.
To be honest, I expected a bit more information. Even the appendices are scant. I think more thought was given to the photo layout and quick-prep aspect than anything else.