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The Best Bento Box in Hawaii


Photo credit: Musubi Cafe Iyasume's Facebook page.
Photo credit: Musubi Cafe Iyasume’s Facebook page.

A well-made bento box is a beautiful thing to behold. (Say that three times fast!) This is especially true if you don’t like your food piled willy-nilly on a plate, like so much Thanksgiving leftovers. Indeed, the bento box is as much a study in organization as it is in variety—two qualities the Japanese, who invented this culinary concoction, prize.

The perfect to-go meal, a bento box traditionally contains rice and an assortment of vegetables, fish, and meat. And the good folks at the Hilo Lunch Shop (421 Kalanikoa St, Hilo, HI 96720) have more than enough of it all. The offerings are laid out for you, cafeteria-style, behind the counter, so you know exactly what you’re getting. Bonus: you can pick up your bento box early and eat it later at room temperature (it’s still delicious), or reheat it in the microwave.

Whether you get your food to go in a bento box or eat in, the Hilo Lunch Shop provides good, hearty meals at fair prices and is well worth the wait—and wait you shall, as locals get here early. Try the vegetable tempura, the nori-wrapped chicken, and the eggplant tempura with Spam, a Hawaiian twist on the Japanese classic.

Additional Bento Box Options

TJ’s Warehouse (Maui)

Here, you can select from one of their many offerings in the display case, or purchase a premade bento box.

875 Alua St.

Wailuku, HI 96793

Musubi Cafe Iyasume (Oahu)

This is a great takeout location, if you’re unafraid of long lines. If not, they offer delivery.

2410 Koa Ave

Honolulu, HI 96815