HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >

Discussion

Bento boxes

I'm tired of packing my lunch in a brown paper bag with tons of ziplocs inside. Where in the DC area can I get a bento box or something similar (i.e. lots of compartments, reusable, dishwasher safe)? I have a car, so public transportation accessibility is not a problem. Please help me, Chowhounders, I want to save the trees/whatever plastic comes from! Thanks.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. If Washington DC doesn't have its own version of Little Tokyo (so you can perhaps combine the bento purchase and eat sushi on the same trip), I'd suggest resorting to the net. I know you can find them on eBay.

    1 Reply
    1. Someone just posted this on a different thread about bento boxes:

      http://www.reusablebags.com/store/lap...

      1. If you go to one of the large Korean supermarkets that also sell housewares (such as Super H Mart) you can find the asian lunch boxes/bowls which stack on top of each other. Kind of like a plastic, insulated version of an Indian tiffin box. You can also find them here.
        http://www.amazon.com/Zojirushi-Bento...

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jule

          Sunday Source did a Bento Box feature a few weeks ago with local information for getting your box: "Where to Buy A Box of Your Own" here is the link:
          http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

          For the story and their suggestions: Order of the Day
          For Lunch, a Bento Box Holds The Promise of Harmonic Nutrition http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

        2. There is a place in Penn Quarter (on the yellow & green lines - archives stop) - called teaism. They are both a wonderful tea shop (gotta try the ginger scones and salty oat cookies). They also have a shop next door t& online - they sell loose tea and all things asian/related. Including bento boxes. www.teaism.com

          1. Try the Asian markets...Korean Korner in Rockville, Han au Rheum, Lotte, Grand Mart..also the Japanese stores, Daruma in Bethesda and Maruichi in Rockville may carry them...next to Maruichi is a Japanese bookstore called Taiga..sometimes they carry popular Japanese imports.....the children who attend Japanese school on Saturdays carry their lunch in the bento boxes, so I imagaine the stores that cater to them would carry them.....might want to call ahead and ask....

            1. try the Asian markets...the bulk of the students who attend Japanese school on Saturday carry their lunches in obento box....the Korean markets, especially the bigger ones with a houseware section ( Grand Mart, Lotte, Han ah Rheum)...also the Japanese market (Daruma, Maruichi in Rockville) are possibilites...there is a bookstore next to Maruichi called Taiga..they sometimes carry popolar Japanese imports....

              1 Reply
              1. re: tabemono

                Ginza at 1721 Connecticut Avenue (north of Dupont circle on the east side) has always had a good selection of bento boxes (though I haven't been there recently).

                http://www.ginzaonline.com/home.cfm

              2. The problem with the bento boxes mentioned is that many of them are not dishwasher/microwave safe. Most have to be hand washed and depending on what foods you put in them, they can stain easily. I almost picked up a tiffin box set (the Indian version of the bento) from World Market, until I noticed the do-not-microwave/hand wash only label on the bottom.

                Another issue is insulation. Most bentos are poorly insulated; not an issue if don't require refrigeration but it's a nice thing to have.

                After scouring the local Asian markets, I settled on a Mr. Bento from Super H, cited above and available from Amazon and others. I got the four-compartment version, but a two-compartment version is also available. The soup at the bottom compartment stays hot until lunch and the salad on the top compartment stays cold. Highly recommended.

                1 Reply
                1. re: monkeyrotica

                  Wow, fancy. All I ever asked of a bento box was that it keep my food from touching. Clearly aiming too low!

                  They had a couple of simple ones at the Han au Reum, which is now calling itself just "H", how cool, on Georgia Ave this past weekend. Not an impressive selection. It's a great store, though - more entertaining than going to the movies and just as heavily air conditioned.

                  I was just at Taiga and didn't see any bento boxes. I forgot to look in Maruichi but nothing hit me over the head.

                2. For what it is worth, we have been washing the Happy Bunny plastic bentos and Hello Kitty plastic ones in the dishwasher for several years now. These are fairly small double-decker bento and more appropriate for a kid's lunch in terms of storage size. We got ours from Super H and from stores selling Hello Kitty products.

                  We looked at kid-sized bento in Korea this month and the trend seems to be toward a 5 compartment, single-layer steel tray with a colorful plastic lid. They did not appear to be sized to fit US lunchboxes, so we passed.

                  Super H also sells a line of great plastic containers, clear with an o-ring in the lid and a snap-down lid lock on each side. These are available in a lot of sizes, many of which are appropriate for sandwiches and small lunch side-dishes. They're dishwasher and microwave friendly. They are certainly not as cute as bento, but several of these may work out better for you in the long run.