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Shidashi Bento Box (Effortless Japanese Catered Bento)

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Shidashi Bento Box (Effortless Japanese Catered Bento)

Shidashi Bento Box – Japanese Catered Bento (仕出し弁当) – Shidashi is a term used to describe bento served by professional caterers. These box meals are ordered for important guests or special occasions.

Shidashi bento is filled with a colourful array of arranged side dishes including rice, tempura, pickled vegetables and protein.

Shidashi Bento Box (Effortless Japanese Catered Bento)
Shidashi Bento Box (Effortless Japanese Catered Bento)

In Japan, eating is regarded as an indulgence and the Japanese homemaker takes all effort to ensure that their family has wholesome, nutritious and delicious meals every day of the year. One of the ways to ensure this is through packing a colourful and designed bento for the family to take to work or school. In this regard, the bento box proves a medium for expressing sentiments through the food packed for the family.

The popularity of bento boxes has expanded from the Japanese home to reach restaurants, convenience stores or departmental stores in Japan and across the globe. And each place has something unique to offer. Bento boxes, thus, have come to take various shapes and sizes and ranging from simple to fancy and packed bento. In this article, we discuss Shidashi bento but before that; we should talk about the criteria that have created the varied sub-groups of this type of lunch-box.

Classification of Bento Box

Classification of bento into several sub-groups has led to the availability of bento that satisfies the needs and preferences of almost all individuals. Bento is classified by its point of sale, shape and ingredients.

Based on the point of sale

Each of the following bento is sold at specific places which may include an airport, train platform, restaurant or onboard the train itself.

Based on the type of their container

Each of the following bento uses a specific style for their container for hiking the appeal.

Based on their ingredients

Each of the below bento is named on the basis of the food items they hold within them.

What is Meant by Shidashi Bento Box?

The term ‘Shidashi’ is used in the context of a bento box that is prepared and packed in a restaurant and then delivered to the point of requirement. Shidashi translates as food delivery service, catering.  A lot of creativity goes into the packing of the bento and it is not very surprising as the work is done by professional caterers.

When Did the Shidashi Bento Originate?

The Shidashi bento became popular around the 1600s at the start of the Edo Period. This was the time that saw an element of sophistication and ubiquity creep into the bento culture. The Shidashi bento became a restaurateurs’ brand and it was nicely packed and delivered by them to diners during special occasions. Many lunch parties or funerals were catered to by Shidashi bento.

Principles that Governed the Packing of Shidashi Bento

The Shidashi Bento Box around that period was created using the Washoku principles which included the following:

  • Provision of balanced and nutritional meals to the diners.
  • Giving preference to local and seasonal ingredients.
  • Fulfilling requirements of carbs, proteins, fibre, minerals and vitamins through the inclusion of rice, fish, eggs or a meat preparation for the main dish alongside varied preparations of veggies, mushrooms and seaweeds.
  • Enhancing taste and food-life by use of salt, sugar and mirin.
  • Additional use of ginger, herbs, wasabi and bamboo leaves to prevent deterioration of food quality.
  • Giving special importance to colour and taste while packing the bento. The inclusion of five colours and five tastes comprising sweet, bitter, salty, sour and umami was a prime consideration.
  • The food was arranged and presented in the most creative manner so as to look very delicious and appetising.

Shidashi Bento in Today

Today, the Shidashi bento is synonymous with elaborate meals that are prepared in restaurants and served to diners during special gatherings. The contents include a group of traditional food items like rice, tempura, pickled vegetables and the like. The arrangement and content of food items differ depending upon the occasion for which the bento is sought from restaurants.

Whatever the type and kind of bento, the fact remains that they are very effective in adding the fun element to your lunch! Found this interesting, why not read more about Shidashi Bento here at

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