food-trends Why the Japanese bento box trend is appealing to Kolkata
The culture of post-pandemic delivery loves nothing more than a well-stacked meal that saves time, effort, and money. And nothing beats a bento box. In recent years, this effective Japanese technique of pre-portioned serving has become a cultural phenomenon, on Tik Tok, meal prep routines and in Studio Ghibli films. Bento boxes are usually plastic or wooden wrapped boxes that are compartmentalized to serve multiple dishes together. It makes portion control easier and helps people prepare a balanced meal.
Kolkata recognized this trend a few years ago, and over the past year, bento meals have become popular as they provide a way to have a meal at home without having to go out or spend too much. Park Street’s new all-day Asian restaurant Octa briefly featured travel-friendly bento boxes when it launched earlier this year and independent kitchens like Girish Park-based Bring Your Bento have started. to offer a series of bento options starting in November.
Authentic Japanese hotspots like Ajisai, Haka, Pa Pa Ya offered bento options from the get-go. But many other restaurants in Calcutta have been able to adopt the bento to fit their menu. The popular Hoppipola resto-bar offers casual dining combos in bento boxes as part of their delivery menu, while Camac Street’s gourmet bar What’s In D Name offers an Indian bento box that lines up one serving. of kebab, with a starter of sauce, Indian bread and dessert.
“We sell the most bento boxes during the lunch rush, even though it’s on our menu all day. We also serve a classic Asian bento box that contains raw papaya salad, Korean babycorn, a serving of noodles, Thai red / green curry, and a brownie. The non-vegetarian box contains a nam prik pao chicken, ”says Angad Walia of What’s in D Name.
Royal China Bento Box
“Bento meals are basically combo meals, which is why they sell so well at lunchtime. We only offer it for dinner, from Monday to Friday until 4 pm ”, explains Sania Sheikh of Pa Pa Ya. High-end restaurants like Royal China and The Park’s Asian Fine diner Zen use the bento style to serve up easy-to-deliver sushi boxes that are ideal for business lunches and a good way to experience high-end sushi without burning out. a hole in your pocket (Royal China’s sushi bento has six pieces of sushi and starts from Rs. 395, while Zen’s sushi box has 12 pieces at Rs. 2,000).
“We just introduced bento boxes in our delivery menu a few weeks ago, they are available from 12pm to 5pm. They are already very popular, we get around 35 to 40 orders per week, mostly for lunchtime deliveries, ”says Abhismita Bhattacharjee of Royal China.
The bento-baking trend has also taken off, as modest-sized cupcakes (also known as lunchbox cakes) are a big hit at mini-parties, where hosts prefer a variety of flavors rather than a cake. normal size. A set of three bento cakes (each weighing 350-400 grams) is ideal for a gathering of 12 to 15 people. They are also much easier to personalize and transport, making them ideal gifts.
“Most people just want something cute that’s smaller too. They usually go for chocolate because they want the color profile that only comes from buttercream, so chocolate truffle with buttercream frosting sells the most on my menu. All the cakes on my menu are available in bento format, ”shares Priyanka Nahata, who runs Kolkata-based home bakery The Baking Girl.
Khadeeja Banu, who runs The Brownie Factory, started making bento cakes after several customer inquiries. “My label specializes in brownies. I started making bento cakes only three months ago. Right now, customers prefer smaller, cheaper versions of large cakes. I recently received an order for five bento cakes for one occasion, so my customers generally prefer the sense of variety and the bento cakes are quite economical as well. My bento cakes weigh around 300 grams and can cost you around Rs. 350-400, ”the baker shares.
DIY alert: Bento boxes are readily available online and you can use them to plan your meals for the day or even host a bento party!