Kyaraben (Charaben) - A New Version of Bento Lunch Box
Many of you are familiar with the Japanese Bento culture, which is a boxed lunch prepared at home and taken to school or workplace. Bento is known for its colorful, appetizing appearance and nutritional value.
Now, a new genre of Bento, Kyaraben is catching attention not only from Japanese people but also people from around the world. Let’s get into the Japanese Kyaraben today!
Cute Minions and Gru Kyaraben.
You can watch how to make cute Minions and Gru Kyaraben in this video!
What is Kyaraben/Charaben?
Kyaraben, or Charaben, is a short form of Character Bento. It is evolved from the normal bento box lunch, and all the food is arranged to look like popular anime/manga characters, animals, plants, or portraits.
Bento is usually made by mothers for children when they start to go to preschool or kindergarten. Bento not only serves a well-balanced meal but also plays an important role for mothers to tell their love and care for children. So, mothers started to make nicely decorated bento with octopus-shaped sausages or heart-shaped seaweed paper so that their kids enjoy lunchtime even more.
Now, bento is evolved into a piece of art, Kyaraben. Many mothers make gorgeous Kyaraben with their creativity and imagination, and lots of Kyaraben recipe books are published. Some people post their beautiful bento on Instagram or blog. You can find numerous videos demonstrating the whole Kyaraben making process.
Varieties of Kyaraben
There are many different varieties of Kyaraben. Thousands of ideas for Kyaraben are easily available both on the internet and books!
If you are new to Kyaraben making, you can start with cutting ingredients uniquely, for example, cutting vegetables with cookie cutters, or cutting sausages into octopus or crab shapes. Animals and plants are also a good choice for beginners.
If you are at the intermediate or advanced level, you want to try making anime/manga characters! Popular choices include Pokemon, Sanrio characters, Disney characters, Ghibli characters, Doraemon, and many more.
Useful Tools and Accessories for Kyaraben
You may wonder how you should make complicatedly shaped rice balls or cut ingredients into unique shapes. But don’t worry, there are lots of gadgets to make the process easier. Rice mold, vegetable cutters, stencil plates, seaweed paper hole punches, etc. are available in 100 yen stores, kitchen stores, children’s goods stores and online shops. So, you don’t need extraordinary skills to make Kyaraben. You can rely on those gadgets! Paper cups and bento pics also adds a colorful, cute appearance to your Kyaraben.
Common Ingredients for Kyaraben
You don’t need special ingredients for Kyaraben. Common ingredients for Kyaraben are mostly familiar to you. Characters or animals, the main part of Kyaraben is often made with rice or sandwiches. Rice balls are shaped into the character’s/animal’s face and decorated with sliced cheese, seaweed paper (nori), thinly baked egg, or ham. Furikake, a type of rice seasoning, is used to color the rice. Sandwiches are also shaped into the character’s/animal’s face with a sandwich cutter (available at 100 stores and online shops).
Side dishes are often shaped into cute forms, too. Common ideas for cute decorations are flower-shaped ham, octopus-shaped sausages, star or heart-shaped veggies, etc.
We hope you enjoyed our video and got familiar with Kyaraben!