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.

Vietnamese food has an image of being accessible to the Japanese, of being "not too spicy" and "kind to the stomach." From spring rolls of fresh vegetables, shrimp, and other such ingredients wrapped in rice paper, to pho, a refreshing soup of rice-flour noodles, Vietnamese cuisine has made itself completely at home in Japan. The streets of Vietnam are also a cyclist's paradise, and the people are in fact very health-conscious. Recently, life has become more comfortable in Vietnam, and there is an increasingly large group of people looking for high-quality foods, even if they might be a little expensive.

In this installment, we'll introduce the healthy, home-made bento of office workers active in Ho Chi Minh City, the commercial heart of Vietnam. You might find some of the features it shares with Japanese bento quite familiar.


39 yrs old Business Management
How frequently do you eat bento?
About five times a week.
If I'm too busy to make it, I go to shellfish restaurants (a type of Vietnamese cuisine) or for Italian or French food. But the food you get when you eat out has quite a strong taste, so I prefer to eat food I make on my own as much as I can.
Tell us what kind of bento you eat the most.
When I made my own, I make all the side dishes together over the weekend.When I buy bento, I stick to healthy, clean food, since I'm making an effort to have healthy eating habits.
When do you usually eat bento?
I usually have it for lunch.
That's most important meal of the day, so you've got to properly feed yourself with rice, side dishes, soups,
and salads! (laughs) I often eat at work with my colleagues.
What's your favorite side dish?
Braised fish. Fish is healthy, so it's perfect for bento!
Have you ever eaten Japanese bento?
If you mean sushi and Japanese-style bento deliveries, then yes.If I have the chance, I'd like to try making a character-themed bento.

We had Anh show us her bento.

Clockwise, from top:
Ham and egg salad, rice, braised fish with salty-sweet seasoning.


Ahn38 yrs old  Analyst

Duan37 yrs old Personnel

How frequently do you eat bento?
Ahn・・・I usually have bento four times a week, and I go out for lunch with colleagues just on Fridays. I’ve been living the bento life for about 10 years now.
Duan・・・I also have bento about four days a week.
Tell us what kind of bento you eat the most.
Ahn・・・I have my housekeeper make bento using ingredients I choose. When I buy bento, I guess I usually pick things I don't normally eat.
Duan・・・My wife's been making it for the past four or five years, but before I got married, I was making bento for me and my sister. I'm not very picky when I buy it. If it's healthy and clean, it's okay by me!
When do you usually eat bento?
Ahn・・・I normally have it at lunch time.
Duan・・・Me too. I'm glad our office has a microwave, so I can eat hot bento.
What's your favorite side dish?
Ahn・・・Braised fish and soup.The soup has all kinds of vegetables in it like squash, spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, so it tastes really good.
Duan・・・They're Vietnamese standards, but I guess I like braised fish or chicken.
Have you ever eaten Japanese bento?
Ahn・・・It looks like it's high in calories,but it looks delicious! I'd like to try it sometime.
Duan・・・I haven't had it myself either.I do like Japanese food to the point where I have salmon sashimi at home, so I'd like to try it if I get the opportunity.

We had Ahn show us her bento.

Clockwise, from top:Rice, fish and leafy vegetable soup, braised salmon, dragon fruit.

We had Duan show us her bento.

Clockwise, from top:Braised chicken, star gooseberry soup, rice, kimchi.

Vietnam-style teishoku is surprisingly cheap, at 120 yen for rice, soup and a side dish, or 180 yen for two side dishes.The braised chicken really stirs the appetite with the faint aroma of lemongrass.Many of the customers are male students, and so the servings come in healthy portions to match!

Takeout sushi is highly popular with men and women with a keen sense for style.It gets a lot of attention for looking fresh and vibrant, while offering diners some delicious fish.Some say that takeout is popular because it's a lot cheaper than eating in at restaurants.