Kobayashi Shinobu is “one of Japan’s foremost writers on bento“, and she has an article in the Mainichi today about the kind of ekiben she likes to get for hanami in Kyoto.
On my way to cherry blossom viewing in Kyoto, I usually pick up a Takekago Bento, an ekiben sold in a bamboo basket. Takekago Bento, a widely loved and top-selling ekiben since its 1997 release, is one of the ancient capital’s most popular bento.
The loosely woven bamboo basket, with a red and white paper suitable for a red-letter day at the bottom, is packed neatly with a colorful combination of rice bale-shaped rice balls, norimaki and homemade Obanzai.
A pair of dishes made with namahu — a green yomogifu and a chestnut-colored awafu — are dressed with rich miso paste. Popular obanzai dishes, yakiyuba, koimo and dashimaki tamago are also included. Sawara, selected to represent the spring, and tori no sasami age, are also in the ekiben. Tori no sasami age is chicken breast coated with brown rice and deep-fried until crispy. The perfectly fried aroma goes really well with wine.
The elaborate bamboo basket can be thrown away, but that would be a shame. It could be used as a candy box or a seasonings holder at home. And it even looks nice when used as a flower holder.
I have to try it!