One of the problems with living on the East Coast, is there are no Japanese department stores.
If there were -- or so I hear tell -- we northeasterners would be able to go to the bento floor and buy a lot of cute plastic stuff to pack our family's lunches. Okay, so this would be totally evironmentally incorrect... but it would be so fun. And who doesn't need a little more fun at 7:05 a.m., while cramming turkey sandwiches and yogurt squeezies into a couple of battered Tupperware containers that have seen better days?
But anyway, no dice. In New York, Pearl River is the closest we have to a Japanese department store, being a Chinese department store that sells Japanese stuff. I headed over there last week, having heard there were bento supplies. I'd heard wrong.
Pearl River does not have a bento section. They have rice cookers and Chinese pajamas and silk slippers and cheong-sams and litchi candy and journals and lamps and buddha statues and pretty everything else you can think of, but no bento section. But there are some lunch pails, and they sell some cute things for lunchboxes and for making rice balls.
Of the lunch pails, I couldn't resist this two-tiered melamine pail. It is the perfect size for my lunch at work. Every since I got it, I have been storing dinner leftovers in it. I put it in the fridge, and it's ready to go in the morning. Plus... so cute. I wish it had a sealed top, because I don't totally trust the metal contraption. I pack it in a plastic bag to make sure I don't get some kind of lunch-juice seepage. So far, so good.
The kids' version is pretty cute, too.
Just to clarify, I am not suggesting anyone -- most especially not myself -- turn into one of those type A-bento packers. Dude, I am not getting up at 5 a.m., no matter what kind of magic I might be able to spin with a couple sheets of nori and some hard boiled eggs. But if I can make our home-packed lunches a little more exciting, I'm all for it.
If you're ready for some of that 7:05 a.m. fun I'm talking about, check out Ichiban-Kan, a brand new on-line Japanese store.
You can go to one of my favorite lunchbox sites, Lunch in a Box, where Biggie gives her review of Ichiban-Kan's products.