All About Asian Food

June 2010 Archives

Bloggin 'bout Bento

When its lunch time, what do you eat? Do you run out to the nearest fast food joint and chow down on a greasy burger and fries? Or maybe you pack your own PB&J sandwich and a piece of fruit. Perhaps you're eating a little left over take out from a paper carton. Well we here at AsianFoodGrocer.com want to let you know that you are behind the times! In Japan, Bento Boxes are a staple in lunchtime dining.

Bamboo Bento BoxBento Boxes are containers that come in many different styles. Think lunch box or Tupperware that's more aesthetically pleasing. They can be constructed out of organic materials like wood and bamboo, metal, or more commonly plastic. Each Bento usually has separate compartment to house each meal item, however, some have no boarders. Most plastic and metal Bento boxes come with a resalable spill proof lid that snaps into place. Some Bento Boxes come in bundles packed with chopsticks, knives and forks, and sometimes even a thermos. As for the wooden and bamboo boxes, the food inside is usually wrapped in a thin layer of plastic wrap to help prevent spillage. The organic material boxes may not be the best at holding food but they sure do look cool!

Another uniquely Japanese trait of Bento boxes is the furoshiki. The furoshiki is a decorative piece of cloth that plays two roles. It is slipped underneath the Bento box and tied at the top to act as a carrying bag. When unwrapped, it doubles as a table cloth.

Hello Kitty Sushi ArtYou have probably figured out by now that the foods inside of the Bento Boxes are also designed for beauty much like other Japanese foods and the boxes themselves. A lot of time and careful preparation goes into every handmade Bento meal. They usually consist of fresh and cooked veggies, seafood, a few pieces of homemade sushi, pickled veggies, and cooked rice with toppings like shredded seaweed nori, seasoned furikaki, salted spiced plum, or sesame seeds. Bento making is truly a culinary art form, hot dogs and sausages can be cut into the shape of sea creatures, fresh vegetables can be carved into flowers, and even the rice can be colored using different spices and food colorings. It is not uncommon to see popular cartoon characters or other well known icons like Hello Kitty. The artistic possibilities are endless!

Luckily for all of you, we just got in a huge shipment of brand spanking new Bento Boxes right from Japan! Check them out and tell us what ya think!

Fanime Follow Up

AsianFoodGrocer-FanimeFanimeCon 2010 totally lived up to everything that we were hoping for and more! We arrived to the San Jose Convention Center's loading dock at just after 9 am. We waited in line with the other dealers to get our truck full of goodies unloaded and delivered to our booth. We had a different booth location this year, because our previous one had been occupied by another vendor. But in true AFG spirit, we worked with what we had.

Our goods finally arrived; four wooden pallets stacked about 6 foot high each. Boxes upon boxes filled with delicious Japanese snacks and candies. With only 2 hours to set up before the Dealers Hall opened to the public, in walked the hard part! So much to unpack with so little time, the most challenging issue was trying to construct hundreds of heavy cardboard boxes into a presentable display with room for us to move about behind our two tables. We set up a display case for our Hi Chews and Kasugai Gummies on top of two chairs, stacked our 16 flavors of Ramune sodas four boxes high along the back curtain, and left our Pocky Sticks and Hello Pandas completely in the walk way of our now crowded booths. Needless to say, we were ill prepared for the enormous Fanime crowd.

Anime fans and Cosplayers from all around the country flooded into the Dealers Hall like a monsoon as we scrambled to establish order to our quickly improvised store front. To our surprise, fans and customers from the previous convention remembered us. It was also pretty amazing that we could remember them too.

Once lunchtime hit, sitting down was a thing of the past. Pocky and Ramune sodas flew off of the shelves; we couldn't keep them if we tried. Cosplayers dressed like characters from all the latest popular animes greeted us with smiles that spread from ear to ear, once the figured out that we carried some of the cheapest food at the con. We worked non-stop to satisfy the unquenchable thirst of the fans. By the end of the day we were drained of almost all of our energy. Although almost fully fatigued, our smiles and horseplay proved that we were still having fun.

Days 2 and 3 were the toughest. Thirteen hour shifts with little to no restroom breaks is completely normal to us by this time. Even lunch proved to be a difficult task. And we loved it! Just being able to meet so many great people who had the same interests in Japanese anime, food, and culture as we did was enough to keep us going. That and the five dollar foot longs from Subway! We can't wait to do it all over again for FanimeCon 2011.

The GameWe want to personally thank all of the Fanime staff for putting up with all of our special needs, the San Jose Convention Center for letting us use their ice machines when we ran out, and last but not least a huge THANK YOU goes out to all the AsianFoodGrocer.com fans that stopped by our booth! Without you guys, we wouldn't have been able to do the convention at all. If your looking for any awesome pictures that we took, you can see them here!

See you all next year with new flavors and new treats straight from Japan!

Fanimazing!

Fanime 2010It that time again! Your favorite website, AsianFoodGrocer.com, is going to FanimeCon 2010! As always, Fanime will be held at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose California. If you are in town and you're going to be at the event, don't forget to visit us in the Dealers Hall. We will without a doubt have the cheapest prices for Japanese snacks, candies, and sodas. Last year we could barely keep up! We literally had a line running down the aisle full of people who wanted to buy CASES of Ramune Sodas and Pocky Sticks. This year we hope to do the same!

For those of you who don't know, Fanime is one of the ten largest Japanese Animation conventions held in Northern California. Annually held in the fine city of San Jose California, Fanime draws in patrons from all over the country. The exhibits include an Artist Alley where Anime and Manga (Japanese style comics and graphic novels) artist show case and sell their art, a Gaming Hall where you can play the latest arcade and console games or even enter into a gaming tournament, Karaoke, dances, live musical performances by popular artist, celebrity guests, like anime voice actors and directors, an all night anime movie theater, and a masquerade where in participants show off their Cosplay outfits. We can't wait to see what Cosplayers will visit us this year!

Fanime 2010Cosplay comes from the English words Costume and Play. It's a type of performing art where in the participants get all dressed up like their favorite Anime characters. It's not a simple as going to a store and buying a costume like you would for Halloween. Cospalyers are known to spend hours upon hours constructing their outfits. Every tiny detail is meticulously handmade to real world accuracy. It is not uncommon for Cosplayers to be educated in fashion design, sculpture, fiberglass work, and cosmetology. Their costumes are an amazing site to see in person, it's like your favorite anime characters have come to life!

This year's event should prove to be very amazing. With our low low prices and charismatic staff, AFG will defiantly be a hit!