What is a Shokado Bento Box?

Shokado Bento Box

Shokado Bento Box – When it comes to Japanese cuisine, even tiny differences make a big impact. If you are a fan of Bento Boxes – the classic Japanese lunch box – there are a few different types to choose from, including the Nori, Hinomaru and Makunouchi varieties. But there is another one you should absolutely try, called the Shokado Bento.

Traditional in style, Shokado Bento is a kind of distillation of Kaiseki cuisine, in which delicious Japanese dishes are served in courses. It is essentially the Japanese equivalent of haute cuisine that can be found in prestigious Western restaurants. As it is comprised of high-quality creations, the Shokado variety of bento is regarded as a more exclusive form of the bento family, and is even served in fashionable and expensive Japanese restaurants.

In talking about bento, it is worth knowing what distinguishes other forms of this traditional lunch treat also. Nori Bento is known for featuring dried seaweed and rice combinations, Makunouchi Bento usually has rice with an assortment of side offerings and Hinomaru Bento is visually appealing with a salted red plum placed in white rice in such as a way as to replicate the flag of Japan. Hinomaru looks attractive, but since it is mainly composed of white rice, many people prefer a bento that includes a few more ingredients.

Bento itself is believed to have originated in the 16th century when a commander in the military needed to feed large numbers of people at his castle and had portions of food packaged and served to them. Shokado Bento dates from Japan’s famed Edo period, which lasted between 1603 and 1867 when the country was ruled by the Tokugawa shoguns and regional daimyo.

The lunch box was named after a priest called Shojo Shokado who noticed how a farmer was using a seed box to keep his medicines, paints and other items tidy and thought that this could be an excellent way of serving a meal composed of various elements. After he started doing this, a famous Japanese chef took note and also began using boxes of this type to serve Cha Kaiseki, the meal which was originally part of the Japanese tea ceremony.

The elevation of this type of bento in conjunction with the tea ceremony received lots of favourable publicity in the press and became known to the wider general public. As this style of bento box became more famous and beloved, it came to be named after Shojo Shokado in honour of his achievements and renown.

Some people who enjoy bento may feel that Shokado Bento and Makunouchi Bento are rather similar and even difficult to tell apart. However, there are important ways to differentiate the two. One way to recognise a Makunouchi bento is by the oval-shaped balls of rice you will find in it. Makunouchi is also distinguished by relatively simple dishes such as grilled fish, tamagoyaki omelette, and pickles.

Shokado however is a bento that incorporates rather more complex cooking styles and foods that require careful preparation. This style of bento may feature premium raw fish in the form of sashimi, and a gorgeous chawanmushi, the steamed savoury egg custard which can be presented as a separate course in a Kaiseki banquet. It may also include fish or tofu served with ankake, a sauce often thickened with potato starch that is rich and comforting and a firm Japanese favourite, served with a number of popular dishes.

Another important difference between Shokado and other forms of bento is that while ordinary, easily available bento that can be bought in a convenience store or supermarket may be purchased in a cheap, disposable container, Shokado is served in a beautiful, sometimes lacquered box, which can be quite ornate and is divided into precise compartments to enhance the culinary experience.

Bento is always a welcome and tantalising lunch option, but if you really want to treat yourself to a real taste of Japan’s highly evolved and delectable cuisine, then choose Shokado, the premium bento experience which will provide a satisfying and exciting snapshot of exquisite Japanese cooking.

Bento Box Recipes

Why not try some of our Bento Box Recipes!

Read more about The history of the Bento Box

Traditional Japanese Fashions

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