Food For Four

Cute Bento

Posted on | March 19, 2010 | Asian Recipes, Recipes | 8 Comments

cute bento

My 3 year old is super picky with her food. Every meal time she raises my stress level by refusing to eat certain food, needing to be spoon-fed, leaving food in her mouth and not swallow, and running around and play. Last year I tried searching for creative ideas to feed my fussy eater, and was pleasantly surprised when I discovered a whole new world of “cute bento” or “art bento“.

Most people are familiar with “bento” which is a Japanese meal in a box. “Cute bentos” are bentos that are elaborately decorated to look like artwork. Rice balls are shaped into animals and vegetables are cut into different shapes and so on. There are also character bento, in which the food resembles well-known cartoon characters. Some of these bentos are like piece of artwork and looks too good to eat.

kiddie bento

I have been wanting to make these cute bentos for a while now but I could not find any rice moulds and small cookie cutters. Last month I finally bought some from a Japanese grocery, so it was time to put them to use.

This was my first time and I got too ambitious by trying to do a face of Dora. My girl loves Dora and I thought if I made a character she likes she would find the meal fun and eat it.

I also got my daughter involved in the whole process. I start off trying to do a sketch what the bento would look like. My girl was very fascinated and was asking a lot of questions. She was wondering why mummy is drawing Dora when she said she is making lunch.


So Dora’s face didn’t turned out as I hoped. Husband thought she looked scary. Thanks. Next time I will stick to something simple.

This bento is not just colourful and cute but also super healthy; lots of different steamed vegetables, rice, fried eggs, sultanas (for eyes), nori and cheese. I should make something like this for myself because my lunch are usually not that healthy.

For the rice balls (onigiri) I didn’t bother using sushi rice and instead use yesterday’s left over rice. This particular crop of Jasmine rice was very sticky so it was good to use as rice balls. To colour the rice you could use either egg yolk or flaked salmon but I wanted to fry the egg so decided to put some turmeric for colour.

So what is the verdict from the critic? My girl was very excited and she ate all her favourite things really fast (most of the vegies). She didn’t particularly like the rice as it didn’t have much taste. Next time I will flavour the rice or use noodles in the bento.


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8 Responses to “Cute Bento”

  1. Anh
    March 20th, 2010 @ 1:22 am

    Oh, you really go the mile for your kids’ meal! :)

  2. Simon Food Favourites
    March 20th, 2010 @ 1:34 pm

    HEHE that’s too cute. must taste better too :-)

  3. Mark @ Cafe Campana
    March 20th, 2010 @ 3:21 pm

    What a very lucky daughter.

  4. Yen
    March 20th, 2010 @ 8:26 pm

    Thanks Anh, Simon and Mark. The things we do for our kids.

  5. Conor @ HoldtheBeef
    March 21st, 2010 @ 4:00 am

    You are amazing. I want to be your daughter.

  6. Olive
    March 22nd, 2010 @ 7:07 am

    this is soo cute indeed, what a creative way to make your daughter eat her veggies :)

  7. betty
    March 25th, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

    this is wayyy too cute!

  8. Phuoc'n Delicious
    March 27th, 2010 @ 2:46 pm

    Oh that’s so cute Yen. I hope when I have kids that they don’t become picky and fiddly eaters.. I remember our dad feeding us all these weird food like ox tongue (yum), pig ears, giblets, frog legs… Mmmm…

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