Plenus 米食文化研究所

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日本の食文化アーカイブ Bento Library



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.

World Index

  • Paris
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Ho Chi Minh City
  • フランス・パリの弁当 インタビューエリア:パリ・マレ地区


    On one of the hottest days this July, we visited Ennju, which is a long-run popular lunch place in the Union Square area in NYC.  The Union Square area is the culture epicenter because many companies and groups like photographers, interior designers, software developers, and publishers have gathered there and created the next trends.


    Kadri Architect Esthonian

    Kadri is an architect born in Estonia. She grabbed Ahi Poke Don and headed to a cashier as soon as the store opened. "I found Sushi when I traveled to Asia for the first time. After that, sushi became popular in Estonia, too. We could buy fresh fishes easily, so we made sushi at home, too," which was kind of a surprising comment to us. "If we eat sushi at restaurants, it"s expensive, but Bento sushi is less expensive." That's why she comes here to "buy this at least once a week."

    Ahi Poke is a Hawaiian tuna dish, just like Maguro/Tuna Zuke with a Hawaiian touch. Ahi Poke Don seemed to be the most popular Bento Box for the day.



    Tyler SE


    Axel SE


    It's just like Salad. It can make me satisfied but not get me too full. It's refreshing so it's perfect for lunch, especially on hot days like today," said Tyler, the software engineer.   He said he would eat Ahi Poke Don a few times a week and another customer, Alex, said the same thing. Coincidentally, both of them said, "[I] love Japanese food, especially sushi!! I like Bento boxes because it's easy for taking out. Even if my work is extremely busy I can take it out and go back to the office and eat there. It's very convenient."

    Eating quickly while working at a computer is a typical New York lunch style, and lunch in a Bento box is perfect for us, New Yorkers.





    Alexa came here for the first time. After carefully checking out all the options, she bought a Black Rice Inari sushi box and an Asparagus & Cucumber Maki sushi box.

    "It"s cute and packed pretty in a small box. Looks healthy, too," she said, opening the boxes to show off what she chose. Watching how she used chopsticks, you could tell it wasn't her first time eating Japanese food.  She said she sometimes ate Chinese dishes but Japanese Bento was her favorite.

    Ennju has been a favorite lunch place for New Yorkers for a long time because they offer not only an authentic Japanese menu and taste for Japanese food lovers but also a variety of selections for a wide range of customers from all kinds of cultural backgrounds.


    Stephan Sales


    Stephan, the salesman, chose the Daily Lunch Box which, on this day, consisted of Chikuzen ni (mixed vegetable sauteed) and Teriyaki Chicken. "It's not easy to find a lunch dish coming with both chicken and vegetable in other cuisines. Bento box is easy and the prices are reasonable. I like Japanese food, but it's expensive if I eat it at restaurants.  And Bento seems to be more home cooking. I usually choose brown rice but today, I went with white rice. The Daily Lunch Box is my favorite. I used to come here everyday because my office was on the same block" but now only makes the trip once or twice a week as his new office moved to a new location.
    Bento Boxes became popular because it appeals to health conscious Americans.



    Gian & Ilana


    "My mom is Philipino and Bento Box reminds me her cooking" and "I buy Bento every day. I do a lot of exercises so I want to eat not only vegetables but protein, too. Bento is always consisted of fish, meat, and vegetable."

    Asked if his co-workers ever tease him for eating Bento boxes everyday, he answered "When I get in elevators with my Bento box, people always ask what it is. So I say to them "a complete meal packed in a box."

    Sounds like the perfect reply of an advertiser if you ask me.


    In New York, you can buy bento boxes at some specialty stores, and the numbers of people buying books of how to make bentos are growing. Washoku, Japanese cuisine, has given people the impression of the special occasion cuisine, but Bento Box has started freeing the impression. Contents of Bento Box don't limit only Japanese dishes but also other global ones. You won't be bored even if you eat it every day. Bento Box is nutritiously completed. Prices are reasonable and within your budget. These are elements to create the motto of "To Want To Eat Everyday", and appeal to the younger generation who knows what the real healthy meals mean.





    20 East 17th St. (Bet. Broadway & 5th Ave.)
    New York, NY 10003
    Mon-Fri, 11:30-22:00 / Sat, Sun, 12:00-20:00