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.
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?”