Bento boxes are great fun if you pack a lunch, and there is now a local source for boxes and the crazy Japanese accessories in the new Hanoori Home Plaza opened in Catonsville.
Bento boxes are little plastic boxes that often come with dividers or little cups to separate your food. You pack lunches with a bunch of little items -- a little meat, some rice, some vegetables, a salad, a sweet, etc. I have had a ball re-packaging our leftovers into lunches. Save some cash. Enjoy good food. Some people even say they lose weight.
You could spend hours reading about bento lunches on blogs like Lunch in a Box or Just Bento. They each give tips about how to pack bento lunches. Lunch in a Box talks often about packing lunches for a toddler. Just Bento has great organization and many tips -- from bento basics to decorative cutting techniques. The coolest photos are complex bentos that look like art, but Biggie on Lunch in a Box emphasizes that she spends 10-15 minutes on a lunch. I pack in boxes, but I don't make anything look like art.
Hanoori Home Plaza opened in the shopping center with H Mart on Rte 40 in Catonsville. It's part of the "Hanoori Town" complex, and it's a Korean "Bed, Bath and Beyond" -- all kinds of kitchen items, appliances, and soft goods like blankets. The kitchen goods are worth checking out for anyone looking for bargains -- knives, plates, bowls, peelers, Lock & Lock brand containers. Mrs. HowChow had her eye on
some stainless steel bowls and chopsticks, and there are tons of decorative tea cups, sake pitchers, and gift sets.
Among Hanoori's bento boxes, Mrs. HowChow saw the box that I love but hadn't found anywhere but Los Angeles. It's a 950 ml box that says "vive" on the bag and "Asvel" on box -- white with three interior pieces and a snap-on top. I fill each section, then cover them with "Press and Seal." It's overkill, but I carry my lunch sideways in a shoulder bag. I can't afford a leak. I bought them originally at a Japanese market in LA, and my friend was nice enough to ship me more when I lost the originals to snapped tops and lunches forgotten in the office fridge. Hanoori sells them for $12, but that pays for itself in a week's lunches. Hanoori sells a bunch of other boxes, including small ones for kids.
Hanoori also sell silicon shapes that people use to separate one dish from anyone. I have cupcake liners from Target, and I'll fill one with sliced vegetables or pickles or something. The Japanese items are precious, and they'd probably be great fun if you were trying to get your kids into the bento program.
One thought: We're unclear if the bento boxes will survive for long in a dishwasher. My favorite box seems to warp slightly even on the upper level, but I use one or two every day so it's such a luxury to throw them in the machine. Consider hand-washing.
If you visit Hanoori Home Plaza, you should also check out the H Mart, my favorite place for food. (Click here for all the H Mart posts.) You'll also see Mangoberry inside Hanoori and Golden Krust for Jamaican takeout down the row. If you're interested in cooking Japanese food, check out my review of Kimiko Barber's cookbooks.
Hanoori Home Plaza
822-828 N. Rolling Road
Catonsville, MD 21228
NEAR: Hanoori is in the shopping center with H Mart at Rte 40 and Rolling Road in Catonsville. From Howard County, talke Rte 40 east from Rte 29 and then watch for the Starbucks on the right. Turn there. The "home plaza" is on the lower floor of the Hanoori section. You walk into Hanoori past the Mangoberry, then down the stairs to the Hanoori Home Plaza. Kitchen goods are right at the bottom of the stairs, and bento boxes are on the back side of one of the kitchen goods displays.