Plenus “kome” Academy

Bento From Around the World

With the exportation of Japanese culture, bento culture is spreading across the globe. We're happy to see bento, a staple meal for the Japanese, being acknowledged as "bento" (without any change in name or pronunciation) and loved by people around the world.

In light of this, we decided to conduct our own research of local bento cultures from different countries in a series called "Bento From Around the World." We interviewed local bento shops and people from different countries to gain answers to questions like "How are people from different countries engaging with bento and what do they think about it?" "What kinds of local bento are there that are informed by the national character and food culture of each location?"

How is the bento culture which has continued for 400 years being received globally? In "Bento Around the World," we'll be introducing the current state of the bento culture that is going global.

Our first interview happened in Paris, France, known for its particularly strong interest toward Japanese culture and it's fertile ground for reception of it. Our interview was realized in cooperation with bento shop Bento&Go! located in Marias, the center of latest fashion and trends. Nearby is the Place de la République, an area known for its openness toward different cultures where art galleries, frame shops specializing in artwork, as well as various fascinating shops reside.

Mr. Yoni TAYAR
Mr. Yoni TAYAR 31yrs  Marketing Marketing
When do you eat bento?
Mainly during work. It's nice to be able to eat on the go especially because there's very little time for lunch break. The French taking two hours for lunch? That was in the old days...(laughs) Now, it's all about saving time. I use this bento shop a lot because I can make a phone order beforehand and they also do deliveries.
What do you think about the Japanese bento?
When I was stationed in Shanghai, I often used to go to Chinese take-outs. But Chinese food is rather greasy and it was hard on my stomach to eat daily…For Japanese bento, you can choose whether you want to go for something "heavy" or "light" depending on the dish. It's fun to choose because there's so much variety. Today I chose chicken teriyaki and leek. The sweet and sour taste is referred to as "aigre-douce" which shows how much it's popular among the French.
Any personal stories you can share about bento?

Hmmm … I'm always eating it during meetings or work (laughs).
But I think the Japanese bento culture is really amazing.

Each dish is arranged in a small box in a way that's nutritionally well balanced and visually pleasing. I could never make that myself. The egg rolls here are heart-shaped. That kind of attention to detail is probably something only a Japanese chef could do.

Ms. Johanna BELLOT
Ms. Johanna BELLOT 30yrs  Aesthetician Aesthetician
When do you eat bento?
I eat bento on a daily basis. A typical lunch in France is sandwiches and salads but they aren't great when you think about nutritional balance. Because of my work, I'm conscious about maintaining my figure so I try to eat healthy even when I don't have much time for lunch.
What do you think about the Japanese bento?
I think bento is a great all-rounder meal because it includes fish, meat, and vegetables. When I saw it for the first time, I thought "Wow?!" I was very impressed because there wasn't anything like this in France. My favorite side dishes are salt grilled salmon and seasonal vegetables. You can eat salmon in French restaurants but it's quite expensive. I think 13 euros for all of the bento is very reasonable.
Any personal stories you can share about bento?

I love yukari (powered shiso) sprinkled on rice. I was so amazed when the shop staff showed me the shiso leaves. I was like "Why is it red?" "What does it taste like" (laughs). When I was eating it at work my colleagues were all intrigued and they all tasted it. It was their first time but they all liked it.

Japanese food is great when you want to control calories. Vegetarians can eat it too. I think it's an amazing culture.

Oh, and do you know any other bento shops besides this one?
I've become such as big fan of bento. I'm exploring different bento stores in Paris.

Bento&Go! is Chef Go Tachibana's bento store. Tachibana has trained in Japan and in Paris. Tachibana who claims, "I want French customers to enjoy the authentic taste of Japanese cooking," offers bento that is true to traditional menus and seasoning. His bento has captured the heart of not only the Japanese but also the French.

Bento & Go!

18 Rue Notre dame de Nazareth 75003 Paris

Mon - Sat, 12:00 - 15:00 / 18:00 - 22:00