It's the convenient style of lunch box that has been the mainstay of everyone in Japan from school children and college students to office workers – and its success has now started to reach out across the world.
But, like most Japanese creations, there's a true art to putting together a bento box that has the variety you need to include all of the main food groups as well as providing a truly satisfying meal.
The classic ratio followed in Japan is 4:2:1:1 to get the perfect combination of carbs, protein, vegetables and fruit. Fortunately, there are plenty of places nearby which can provide you with everything you need, so let's run through the essentials.
1.Noodles for carbs
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Let's start with the part of the meal that's going to help you store up some energy – the carbs. Any kind of noodles are going to be ideal and Itadaki Japanese is the perfect place to get them from. There's a great choice waiting for you including ramen, udon and yakisoba styles with chicken, vegetable, beef or seafood accompaniments. Of course, it could be that noodles could be a bit tricky to eat on the go – in which case the classic Japanese gyoza dumplings can be the perfect alternative. They're great finger-food and also come with a wide range of fillings.
2.Sashimi for protein
Sashimi is the perfect way to get a virtually pure hit of protein so it should definitely be number 2 on your list of ingredients for the bento box. The thinly sliced fish – or sometimes meat – might sound plain but the combination of its curing process plus the addition of fiery wasabi or rather more gentle soy sauce means it's surprisingly flavoursome. There's also a great variety of choose from. For example, Sushi Counter offers eel, salmon, octopus, tuna, white fish, shrimp and even a finely sliced omelette.
3.Salads for veg
You really need some greenery to make sure that it's a vitamin-rich meal and there are some great typically Japanese options – especially if you go to somewhere like Mori Sushi. One of the most popular is a seaweed salad marinated in sesame oil and which uses two of the key ingredients in Japanese cuisine to create a tasty side dish that's packed with iron and vitamins. Or you may prefer a serving of another classic Japanese food, edamame beans. In their processed form, these are what make soy sauce but dressed and raw they're delicious on their own.
4.Mocktails for fruit
You'll need a drink with your bento box so why not combine this with getting your serving of fruit? Kanpai offers an amazing variety of fruity mocktails including one called Green Dragon that includes kiwi fruit, honey and apple juice. Another favourite is the Tea Punch, a refreshing combination of green apple, green tea, passion fruit and strawberry syrup that's a simply delicious way to round off any meal.
Time to create your very own bento box? Then let Deliveroo sort out all the ingredients for you.