I was asked to provide some pictures of my bento for an Italian magazine, and they also asked me for photos of my tools. I’ve been meaning to take pictures of my tools, so I’m glad that he asked me. (Otherwise I wouldn’t have done it )
I bought some of them at a store, online, and my friends gave me some hole punchers for Christmas, but I don’t use them all the time. I was so busy making bento, sometimes I’ll realize later “I should’ve used that one to do this!” or “I totally forgot I had this!” I probably should organize them better.
Anyway, the tools I can’t make bento without are…
Hole punch – This is a true lifesaver. Before I got this, all pupils on the characters looked so deformed that they looked like they were crying. I can also cut out small ” c ” shaped seaweed with this.
Exact (Xacto) knife - I use this to cut out small pieces of seaweed or food. Seaweed art (cutting seaweed just like a drawing or photo) is pretty popular in the Japanese kyaraben world. They usually put seaweed on cheese because it’ll easily stick to cheese, and is less likely to curl up or get wrinkly when the seaweed is placed on the cheese firmly. I tried making seaweed art for the “Shadow of the Colossus grilled cheese sandwich” and “Professor Layton bento.” It’s actually not as hard as it looks, but you have to be very patient to do this. Seaweed art is definitely not something you want to try in the morning when you’re making bento in a rush. (Don’t ever do it. It’s very dangerous!)
Scissors - Just ordinary scissors, but I use them only in the kitchen.
College tweezers (the one that’s long and skinny with curved head) – I usually use this to apply seaweed on characters’ faces. But since they’re very long and skinny, it can go into the hard to reach places like the surface of the face of the Big Daddy in my “BioShock bento.”
Single blade razor – This is great for cutting a short straight line. The tip of a regular knife is usually curved, and you always have to make sure the food (egg sheet, cheese, etc…) is actually cut and separated. But with this, you just have to push it down. The blade is much thinner than a regular knife, so you don’t have to worry about breaking tiny veggie pieces apart.
Fruit knife – A smaller knife is definitely more useful than a big knife in bento making.
Straw – It works like a hole puncher for solid food like cheese or veggies. Also you can just cut the tip after you use it to keep it sanitary.
Toothpicks – Toothpicks are a great multi-purpose tool. You can make a tiny hole with it, you can use it to shift food, you can apply chocolate (not for bento, but baking stuff) or mayonnaise on food, etc…
Plastic caps / strip of a plastic bottle - Cutting something circle with a knife is extremely difficult, and cookie cutters can be too big, so I use plastic caps of various products. I collect a lot of them and I just throw it away when it gets old.
*By the way, I wash blades (exacto knife, single blade razor, etc…), and disinfect the blade by holding it in a flame and wiping it with rubbing alcohol after each use.
And these tools aren’t absolutely necessary, but it’s very helpful to have…
Cookie cutters – I have many cookie cutters but I only use some of them to cut veggie and cheese. I usually use just part of the cookie cutters. For example, I’d use the tip of a star shaped cookie cutter to cut a ” ^ ” shape out of sliced carrot or cheese to make flowers or stars. (It only works for bigger pieces though.)
Various hole punchers – The ones with faces on them are made specifically for seaweed. It’s just a slightly easier to get seaweed out of it, but they’re basically the the same as the craft punchers.
Sauce / mayonnaise containers – I rarely use the sauce containers actually. I usually forget that I have them. It’s a shame, because they’re adorable.
Like I said, maybe I don’t use my tools as much as I should, but sometimes I get inspiration from my tools. If I really want to use a certain tool, I’ll think and see if I can make a bento using the tool. You can get tons of kyaraben products in Japan for very cheap, so I can’t wait until the next time I go.