“before and after” bento

26 04 2010

one night last week, i was tweeting with some bento pals when debra of hapa bento showed us the first bento she had photographed and posted online, a full year ago. we all dug up our first bento posts, and remarked on how fun it was to see the evolution of our bentos. then debra had the great idea of us all doing a “before and after” post, to show how we would use the same ingredients from our first bento in a different way.

my first bento was pretty simple — some homemade kimbap rolls (with tofu, carrot, egg and spinach in them) laid over a leaf, with a separate tier of kiwi slices and a checkered apple and takuwan flowers. the checkered pattern was one of the first decorative techniques i learned, and the soy sauce bottle and flower cutters the extent of my bento equipment! here’s a picture of that bento:

to revamp the same ingredients this time around, i chose a similar box (unfortunately my original box suffered an unfortunate dishwasher incident; this one is also slender and pink, though), and filled it with slices of a simplified kimbap roll (just egg inside) over some shiso leaves. modifying an idea from hawai`i’s bento box cookbook (“hotdog sushi bear,” p. 35), i used the eggy centers of the slices as the bear’s muzzle, and added nori details for eyes, nose and mouth. then i cut takuwan ears and attached them with toothpick ends.

instead of a checkered apple, this time i have some apple “coins” with teddy paw-prints carved into them. to use the other ingredients that were inside the kimbap roll in my first bento, i breaded and fried two tofu chunks, and topped them with steamed carrot flowers and washi-tape flag picks. i filled the empty spaces in the box with some more takuwan, and my final original ingredient, kiwi (this time in wedges instead of slices).

what do you think? nori, rice, egg, carrot, tofu, takuwan, apple, kiwi, and leaves — all there. my arrangements have gotten slightly neater and more character-focused, but i would like to think my bento “style” hasn’t changed that much.

check out some other great “before and after” bentos from some of my favorite bento artists:

if you ask me, these ladies were just as talented then as they are now, and their “before” bentos show how accessible this hobby/art form really is… if you are just starting out, you don’t need a ton of fancy tools to develop your own signature style, just some practice and imagination!


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44 responses

26 04 2010
Debra

Yoru bentos always looked cute. Too bad about the dishwasher incident… that was a sweet bunny box!

I agree abount not needing fancy tools or boxes for packing an appealing bento especially when starting out. Too bad it doesn’t stay that way, in my case anyway, I’m a “bento-stuffs” addict. LOL!

26 04 2010
gamene

i’m an addict too, and you are one of my enablers, haha! thanks for being one of the blogs that inspired me to start doing this – it’s been so much fun!

26 04 2010
Susan Yuen

So cute!!! I love the bear sushi and the paw print apple!!! Great colors and use of shiso. :)

26 04 2010
gamene

thanks susan! the bear really was pretty much straight out of your book, which always gives me great ideas. thanks for being one of my bento teachers, and such a great friend!

26 04 2010
sheri

Aw, I really love the addition of the bear face and paw detail on apple! Great way to carry the theme! Yours looks great both ways :) I love the carved carrot flowers– I have to try too!

That kind of box seems made for kimbap, eh?

26 04 2010
gamene

thanks sheri! yeah, i am very into “themes” now, i think that is the biggest way i have evolved in my bentos! oh, and those carrot flowers are easy :-)

26 04 2010
ChantaleP

Okay, so um, which is the before and which is the after?? They’re both lovely! Mm, kimbap, my fave (all varieties of kimbap are my fave!). I love that rectangular box.. it really makes for an interesting and fun meal!

26 04 2010
gamene

thanks chantale! i looove kimbap, and it’s so great for bento – especially in the long skinny box :-)

26 04 2010
LauraBento

when did you make that “before” bento? it hasn’t been a year yet has it? i think i am most impressed with how super fast your bento and photography skills improved! you are a bento pro now! i agree with sheri, love the bear face, paw, and carrot flowers. i’ve always wondered how to make those flowers. show me how? :)

26 04 2010
gamene

hey laura, nope, it’s only been about 7 months since i started bentoing! thanks so much for your comment, it means the world to me.

i promise i’ll do a tutorial on these carrot flowers soon!

26 04 2010
Bentobird/Jenn

Great project–am enjoying all of your bento evolution posts! Creativity is a process that takes nourishment from so many sources, and I love how this bento community offers inpiration, encouragement, and sparks of delight to keep it going :)

26 04 2010
gamene

thanks jenn, but debra deserves all the credit for this fun idea! i agree completely with your thoughts on creativity — the bento community has been such a wonderful resource for me. so glad you are a part of it too :-)

26 04 2010
Jenn

That’s such a great idea! I love the before and after pics, and the little teddy paw apple is too cute!

26 04 2010
gamene

thanks jenn! it was debra’s idea, i just went along with it. glad you liked the teddy paw apple – it was very easy to do, not nearly as complicated as some of the fab apple cutting i’ve seen on your blog! (speaking of your blog, just added to my blogroll, have been meaning to do that for ages!)

26 04 2010
Lyndsey

This is great, I am loving this too. Now I now what to look forward to from today (my first bento post)and just keep learning! hehe! You all are such enablers, and I’ve learned so much, from each one of you, thanks.

I think they are both so pretty!

26 04 2010
gamene

thanks lyndsey… i can’t wait to see the evolution of *your* bentos, and am so glad you’ve joined in our cult… haha i mean hobby ;-)

27 04 2010
Lia Chen

So much talent already showed on your first bento Megan … Love both of the bentos! It’s really fun to see this post along with Susan, Debra, and Sheri’s posts too. 4 musketeers in bento world!! :)

27 04 2010
gamene

thanks for your nice words lia, and you know you are the 5th musketeer!!

27 04 2010
Lil'chan

Oh, this is really fun!
I often view all my bento pictures. And it’s amazing how the style changes ;)

Your “after” bento is great! Especially more decorative. I think the early bento are more focused on “What can I do inside” and not “What can I how do inside, so that it will look nice”. But that’s only my opinion ;)

27 04 2010
gamene

thanks lil’chan! i agree, my recent bentos are much more decorative. but i still like the same foods and am attracted to the same color combinations, etc.

27 04 2010
domesticanarchist

Just wanted to let you know, I put a link to your blog in a post on mine, I was talking about ways to make mornings easier by preparing the night before, and I’m getting really interested in bentos, and love yours! especially the robots. if you’d like to read the post it’s at http://domesticanarchist.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/morning-ease-yes-please/

-Domestc Anarchist

27 04 2010
gamene

thanks domestic anarchist, i really appreciate the link, and am glad to hear you like my bentos — good luck making your own, can’t wait to see them!

27 04 2010
Rachel@Coconut Crumbs

I’m loving this historical project! Even your “before” bento looks good to me! Thanks for sharing!

27 04 2010
gamene

thanks so much rachel! :o)

27 04 2010
Michale Barefoot

Great advice, i am heading over to check out your entire site now. I should just give up and take lessons from you

27 04 2010
gamene

thanks michale, that is so sweet!

28 04 2010
sushi stu

the sushi looks great. But I would say that, I’m obsessed!

28 04 2010
gamene

thanks stu, a sushi compliment from you is a real sushi compliment! ;-)

28 04 2010
Ingrid

Your first bento looked lovely as well, although it’s indeed different from the charaben style you already used when I first encountered your blog. I like them both though. It’s a shame that the box had an unfortunate encounter with the dishwasher, that was a cute bunny bento. For the new bento, I love your little bear and the apple coin with paw is a great touch.
I just looked back at my first bento pic on flickr and even though I haven’t progressed as much as you have, I think I have “improved” (a bit) since last October. Thanks for being a continuing source of inspiration, Megan.

28 04 2010
gamene

thanks for your comment ingrid, glad i could inspire you… and i agree, your bentos have evolved as well!

28 04 2010
tatabonita

After seeing your before and after bentos, I think the progress of your bento skill is AWESOME Megan (an amazing evolution :D) and you don’t need a long time to do that. Your charaben sushi makes me want to pop up mine too hehe, thanks :D

28 04 2010
gamene

thanks tata, you are such a dear to say those nice things :-) your bentos have been an inspiration to me, you are so talented!

28 04 2010
Rick

Those are adorable! I would feel guilty eating those!

bittersweetsugarandsarcasm.blogspot.com

28 04 2010
gamene

thanks rick! haha, i didn’t feel a thing, they were yummy!

28 04 2010
gnoegnoe

That’s is cool gamene! I’m going to do a post like this as well! :)

28 04 2010
gamene

yay gnoe, i can’t wait to see yours!! come back and put the link here, or be sure to tweet it!

29 04 2010
sushi stu

he he, the teddy bear sushi looks fun. It’d be great to make for my kids dinner. Must get them eating more sushi!

30 04 2010
Before and After Bento Project – Bento Central

[...] how Gamene and three other bentoists have grown!  More at bento zen… Share and [...]

4 05 2010
Re-Bento 101 « Graasland

[...] ‘Before and After’ Bento on Bento Zen [...]

4 06 2010
One of Those Link-y Posts « nonsequiteuse

[...] any given day, I’m just a few clever utensils away from giving it all up for bento. If anyone were to give me egg molds, it would be all [...]

6 06 2010
EmbemoVub

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!

Cheers
Christian,Earn Free Vouchers / Cash

18 07 2011
guideslots777

Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Cheers

5 04 2012
Emi

I really like the decorative sushi. My girls would really love sushi rolls that look like dogs, cats, hello kitty, etc. I’m going to try it. Thanks and I am enjoying your blog.

11 07 2012
“before and after” bento | Bento Boxes

[...] more info on gamene’s before and after bento, as well as those of three other talented bentoists, at bento zen! [...]

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