REVIEW: Disney Bento is Easy on the Eyes, Hard on the Hands

A close up of colorful bento dishes, these including representations of Mickey Mouse and Elsa from Frozen

Disney Bento is a surprisingly complex little cookbook. While younger children won’t have a smooth time creating magical concoctions on their lonesome, it’s an ideal project for families, older teenagers, or grown-ups who want to take a (literal) slice of Disney magic to lunch with them.

Disney Bento

Masami Miyazaki (Author)
Disney/Viz Media
July 13, 2021

A close up of colorful bento dishes, five arranged in a circle, each representing a disney character. We see Mickey Mouse, Elsa from Frozen, Nemo from Finding Nemo, Minnie Mouse, and Winnie the Pooh

One note before readers purchase Disney Bento: It is not intended for young readers trying to make a bento box for the very first time. With well-illustrated but complex recipes, a single box will require young fans a couple of hours of pre-preparation, careful tracing, and decorating. It’s very detail-orientated work that requires sharp knives and careful placement with chopsticks and other tools. The result is lovely and well worth eating and displaying, but it’s not an activity for young children to undertake alone.

Masami Miyazaki does an excellent job explaining how to make each recipe and spelling out which ingredients are required and how to assemble the boxes. This is a serious bento book; you’ll need ingredients such as nori sheets and lotus roots to make most of the recipes contained here, so expect to take a trip to a Japanese grocery store (or a grocery store with a well-stocked Japanese section). I had to take a trip to my local sushi supply purveyor to pick up some nori sheets before making an attempt at an Olaf bowl, which was mainly rice but also included stir-fried vegetables. The meals offered are very hearty and high in variety, which will please childish palates if nothing else.

Disney Bento also requires careful tracing and following of patterns on edible paper or parchment sheets. It feels like an activity that might be fun for families to undertake together, either as a family dinner night or lunch packing activity. The types of dishes created to assemble the dishes – Japanese meatloaf, fish sauteed in ketchup, and sausage and vegetables (which ironically shows up in the Piglet bento) – are easy to cook. They don’t require special equipment like a rice cooker, and feature ingredients that keep it light on their parent’s wallets. The majority of the recipes are savory, with three dessert dishes and two seasonal options offered. The portion sizes are good for a quick dinner or a nice lunch.

Disney-obsessed adults will have a lot of fun carefully turning fried pasta into connecting pipes, and they might find themselves showing their co-workers their carefully-constructed-out-of-meatloaf Buzz Lightyear. Teens, too, would likely be happy to brag about their skills to schoolmates. I would recommend the book for older teens — anyone from fifteen on who has the right level of patience and ability to use a hot stove. Younger children will need an adult’s help and may even be better off just watching instead of participating.

The variety of characters on display is wide. Oswald the Rabbit shows up, as do Elsa and Anna from Frozen, which goes to show how deep Disney’s canon runs and how you can turn luncheon meat, cheese slices, rice with broth and vegetables into the face of a princess. There are lots of Mickey and Minnie dishes as well.

Disney Bento will appeal to older Disney fans who love playing with their food.

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