Start simple with Cute Bento

Upon seeing cutified bento, a normal reaction, aside from the usual “How can you eat that? It has eyes looking at you!” question is, “That must’ve been so difficult to make. I don’t have the patience to do anything like that.” The notion that kyaraben is difficult tends to stop people from trying, but it shouldn’t. Sure, a lot of really good kyaraben makers use so much time, effort and skill with their creations but the truth is, if you’re all right with starting with something simple and basic, anybody can prepare make their lunch cute.

Chickie Bento

22 August 2008 • Bento #215

One easy way to prepare a cute lunch is to mold your rice into a cute shape. You don’t even need special molds; in this case, I simply used a piece of cling film to help mold my buttered rice into a circle. Because the buttered rice is yellow, I figured I can transform it into a chick. After molding the rice, I simply added green pea eyes and a small carrot slice fashioned into a beak. Very simple, right? What’s important is imagining what you can make with what you have.

I then built the rest of the bento around the chick, adding some fried pork belly, sautéed shiitake mushrooms, jullienned carrots, chikuwa stuffed with mayo and garnished with peas, a bottle of soy-vinegar dipping sauce for the pork, and a piece of umeboshi, mostly to add color. It’s also important to fill your box and to make sure there are no gaps to ensure that your cute creation will reach school / work with the design intact.

I’m sure you’ll agree that this simple approach is very doable. Of course that still doesn’t answer the question, “How can you eat something that’s making googoo eyes at you?”

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10 Responses to Start simple with Cute Bento

  1. Suzanne says:

    With this post, I’ll surely try to make a kyaraben in the near future…

  2. khursten says:

    Chikuwa with mayo and peas. That’s a bright idea kao! >w< Excited to try that out! ~~~~\o\

  3. Liz Tolentino says:

    cuteness naman ng bento na ito Kaoko :)

  4. Team Onika says:

    We’re headed to Singapore later and your food finds is already on our list! Wish us luck! :) Thanks by the way for the tips!

  5. Tara says:

    love that lunch cute! hope I can have same bento…:( been on a diet so no rice for me..

    I really love this site.

  6. BarbaraB says:

    I adore your blog and even though I am in the US I am relatively conversant in many Asian cuisines. But you have stumped me. I assume that the little things that look like Ice Cream cones are the chikuwa, but I have no earthly idea what that is.

    Possibly you could elaborate for those of us who are a little slow?

  7. kaoko says:


    Give it a shot, it’s easier than you think.

    Peaaaaassss, peassssss…

    Hehe, thanks Liz! Make one for your kiddie!

    @Team Onika
    Glad to help! Singapore is soooooo much love when it comes to food. <3

    Thanks Tara! Glad you like it 😀

    Thanks, glad you're liking the site. You're not slow at all, I just forgot to define what chikuwa is. ^_^;; It's a steamed fishcake that comes in a tubular shape. Much like imitation crabsticks 😀

  8. alcyone says:

    so cute!

    btw, where do you get your containers for the dipping sauces? i’m having a hard time looking for containers that are small (and cute!) enough. thanks! :)

    • kaoko says:

      Hi Alcyone!

      I usually buy mine from Japanese groceries but it usually involves a lot of looking because they’re stocked very rarely. Are you based in Manila? If so, you can try stores like Hatchin and 88 peso stores. Good luck!

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