Straight from the Dragon Ball Official Site's gourmet division chief comes the "Dragon Ball Food Column"! This first article will be split into two parts where we'll be recreating famous Dragon Ball scenes as "character bento boxes" for you to feast your eyes on. For this culinary challenge, we enlisted the help of Riyu, an expert in reimagining popular characters in bento-box form, who created four mouth-watering masterpieces for us.
In this first part, we'll be introducing bento boxes for two iconic scenes while explaining how you can make them at home, and in Part 2 we'll have a special interview with Riyu and show off two more of her incredible bento boxes! Bringing Dragon Ball into the real world has never been more fun, more colorful, or more delicious than this! Don't miss any of the bento-goodness coming your way!
Right about now, many of you may be wondering what a "character bento box" even is, but put simply, they're just playfully decorated bento boxes! It all started way back in the 1930's, when character bento boxes played the neat trick of getting kids to eat their lunch with a grin, or even let parents sneak in a few extra veggies that wouldn't normally get eaten. A couple of character bento box staples are the ever-amusing octopus-shaped mini-hotdogs and bunny-ear apple slices.
But in recent years, there's been something of a character bento box revolution. These days, every ingredient under the sun is being used in new and creative ways to recreate characters, mechs, and even entire scenes from the most popular anime, games, and manga. Some would even go so far as to say that modern character bento boxes have surpassed the realms of 'food' and 'bento boxes' and have jumped straight into the realm of art! Plus, thanks to the spread of social media sites like Instagram and Twitter, bento box artists and their culinary creations have been gaining a lot of attention.
So without further ado, let's take a look at some of the Dragon Ball-themed character bento boxes that expert bento box artist Riyu has created for us!
First on the menu is a bento box that recreates the first time everybody's favorite rival duo, Goku & Vegeta, faced off. Among the four bento boxes she created for us, this is the one Riyu struggled with the most—but we must say, it looks like all that effort really paid off!
Goku & Vegeta's 3D presence is overwhelming!!
Plus, you're free to arrange the two bento boxes however you please to change the feel of the scene!
At first, Riyu was thinking of keeping things simple by using lots of cut nori sheets, but after realizing that would leave everything looking a little flat, she decided to go all out to give them the 3D punch they deserved. Hanpen (Japanese fish cake) and mashed potato seem to have done the trick!
Another problem she faced was that using just one ingredient for the hair left something to be desired, so she decided to double up and use a combination of both nori and kombu. For their bodies, she used mashed potato colored using food dyes made with various seaweeds and herbs.
The detailed facial features and lines are made with nori cut down to shapes and sizes measuring less than half a centimeter. Riyu worked tirelessly to get them all just right—apparently cutting out the shapes alone took at least 5 tries!
"Please check out the nori facial features! They took me so long that I almost tapped out!!"
Background: Meat-wrapped bell pepper, nori-omelet, napolitan (Japanese tomato pasta), broccoli, bonito-flake rice
Character: Hanpen (Japanese fish cake), nori, kombu, mashed potato (blue), black koppe hot dog buns, hanpen
Background: Corn, hamburger steak, shrimp mayo sauté, broccoli, bonito-flake rice
Character: Hanpen, nori, kombu, mashed potato (blue & orange)
■ How to Make
1. Using the nori and kombu, cut out shapes for the facial features, hair, and text.
2. Create the main shape of the torsos using the hanpen.
3. Boil and mash the potatoes.
4. Adding salt and mayonnaise to taste, mix the mashed potato from step 3 until smooth.
5. Add food coloring to create blue and orange mashed potato.
6. Cut out the faces from the hanpen.
7. When you are happy with the shape, attach the facial parts.
8. Combine mayonnaise and ketchup until it creates the desired skin tone and spread onto the face.
9. Attach the hair.
10. Form the clothing using the mashed potato to give it a 3D effect.
→Make any final adjustments to Goku & Vegeta... Finished!
Tasked with delivering incredible character bento boxes to Dragon Ball fans all over the world, Riyu knew that sushi had to join the feast, and she figured that, since Frieza's head pretty closely resembles temari sushi, it seemed only fitting that these colorful little balls of raw fish and rice should decorate his box. These delectable balls of bite-sized sushi were originally created for maiko (apprentice geisha) in Kyoto, who could scoff them down without worrying about ruining their lipstick!
ⓒBird Studio/Shueisha, Toei Animation
Lord Frieza's evil grin is made all the more appealing surrounded by seven Dragon Ball-inspired temari sushi balls.
The emperor himself is made using taro and purple sweet potato!
The taro and purple sweet potato for Lord Frieza seem to have been chosen specifically because they're not common ingredients for bento boxes. Although, creating a clean line between the white and purple parts was apparently quite the challenge and required the utmost level of concentration! Adding mayonnaise to the taro helped give it that 'white, but not too white' look that any recreation of Lord Frieza simply can't do without. It's also said that the textures of taro and mayonnaise are a match made in heaven.
Since the eye-catching purple parts are made with sweet potato, they have a mellow sweetness that perfectly complements the white parts of this design. Mix them together and give them a try!
By the way, the seven temari sushi balls around the outside were inspired by Dragon Balls, and so, who knows, now that Lord Frieza has acquired them all, maybe his wish of growing another 5cm will finally be granted!
"Mashed taro is super delicious! I hope everyone gives it a try!"
Background: Temari sushi (salmon roe, seabream, salmon, squid, tuna, yellowtail)
Character: Taro, purple sweet potato, nori (facial features)
■ How to Make
1. Boil the purple sweet potato and taro.
2. Mash the purple sweet potato and taro separately.
3. Add salt and mayonnaise to taste, then mix the mashed potato from step 2 separately until smooth.
4. Create the shape of Frieza.
5. Cut out facial features from the nori.
6. Attach the facial features. For the eyes, attach nori to thinly sliced hanpen.
7. Use food coloring to dye the eyes red.
→Make any final adjustments to Frieza... Finished!
In Part 1, we showed off two of Riyu's incredible character bento boxes, "Goku & Vegeta's First Showdown" and "Lord Frieza's Evil Grin"! Who knew that the Dragon Ball world would make for such delicious and adorable bento boxes?! We've got two more unmissable Dragon Ball scenes for you to salivate over in Part 2, so don't miss it!
Character bento box artist Riyu recreates characters and scenes from various works in bento box form. Her masterfully crafted boxes don't just look the part, they taste the part too!
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