Tonkatsu Bento とんかつ弁当

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Tonkatsu Bento | JustOneCookbook.comWelcome to my new series: Bento!  Bento (弁当, bentō), or most of us would say Obento (“o” for honorific term), is a single-portion home-packed meal or takeout.  I debated the idea whether to start this bento series the whole summer.  The reason is that I wouldn’t call myself a “bento expert” and I don’t think I am creative or artistic enough to make character bentos that kids are crazy about.  However, I became inspired by many amazing bentos that talented bloggers shared and now that I need to pack my son’s lunch everyday, I decided to share my “normal” bento that he loves on Just One Cookbook.

I hope my SIMPLE bento can inspire some of you to make healthy and delicious lunch for your loved ones and I hope you will enjoy taking this journey with me.  You might see a super cute character bento on my blog one day (or maybe not…haha).

I want to briefly mention that I’m making this bento for my 6-year-old son who started 1st grade this year.  The goal is to just pack enough food for him to try finishing his lunch during the 30-minute lunch break.  He’s a slow eater (did I spoil him at home?), and most days he cannot finish his whole lunch box.  So please keep in mind that my bento is made specifically for my son’s need.  Now let’s begin!

Previous Dinner was:

Tonkatsu |

Lunch Next Day:

  • Tonkatsu Bento
  • A medium size box of fruits: chopped up apples, golden kiwis, and oranges.
  • Water bottle

Tonkatsu Bento |

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Tonkatsu Bento
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 1 Bento
  1. Fill up half of bento box with Japanese rice. Let it cool so that hot/warm rice will not warm up other cool food.*
  2. Take leftover tonkatsu out of fridge and bake for a few minutes in a toaster oven until it's warm.
  3. Place tonkatsu on top of rice and drizzle Tonkatsu Sauce on top (or put it in a different sauce container).
  4. Wash tomatoes, lettuce, and radish and pat dry. Cut if necessary. Place nicely in the bento box along with broccoli.
  5. Pour dressing in a sauce container (I bought in local Daiso. Check Amazon).
  6. Cool down completely before closing the bento box.
[Please read FOOD SAFETY TIPS .]

If you are using a thermal bento box like Thermos, you do not need to cool down before closing lunch box.

This lunch is for my 6-year-old son.

Cook broccoli florets in microwave: Put 1-2 broccoli florets in a small microwave-safe bowl/container. Fill with water and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for a minute or so until it's a little bit soft (or you can blanch it as well). Drain well and let it cool.

Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.


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  1. Nice! Wish I could make nice bentos like that…it looks very appetizing, I would love one myself. Your son must be the luckiest boy in class to have a mum like you to pack such a nice lunch for him :-) I haven’t made tonkatsu in a long time… you reminded me how good they taste!

  2. Wendy

    Thanks, Nami, for considering sharing bento tips/recipes. I have been wanting to seek your advice, especially now you’re packing lunch for your son! I’m looking forward to more yummy bentos from you!!

  3. My son is a slow eater too, probably the slowest in the class. I usually pack his lunch in really small lunch box. I hardly make tonkatsu for his bento. I don’t know why, maybe it ‘s too hectic to deep fry in the morning (and we never have left over tonkatsu). Your bento is simple but well balance and looks tasty. I like it. Please keep it coming. :-)

  4. How my children would love to open their lunch boxes and see this beautiful meal looking back at them. :) PB and J sandwiches are the usual around here because I’m always afraid of things going bad before they eat lunch. You’ve certainly made me rethink the plain sandwich for my kids now. I think I will have to start to experiment with them too. I look forward to this series. It will keep my lunch packing saga more interesting with your ideas. :)

  5. Nami, you’re such an incredible mama! I want lunches like these! I always order the bento box at the Japanese restaurant up my street, and they never look as good as yours 😉

  6. Does he really only get a half hour for lunch? That’s so short. My kids get much longer than that so they have time to eat all their lunch and then time to play. What an amazing Bento box Nami. I’m super-impressed so you have nothing to worry about. That lunch is certainly packed with lots of flavour and goodness xx

    • I also had 45-60 mins lunch break but it’s so long ago I don’t remember. But that 30 minutes include play time too. I know he struggles to eat fast (and doesn’t finish all of it) and go play with friends… Lunch break seems almost like snack break (he has short snack break in the morning as well).

  7. Sandra

    This would be fun to eat at home. You’re so creative Nami and I’m happy you’re doing this series. Maybe I could do this for my picky eater granddaughter.

  8. Nami, the bento looks great! I know growing up, it’s always so comforting to open up my lunch box and see what my Mom packed. For a short while due to my older sister’s unwillingness to eat, my Mom gave up and only packed white rice with some stir fried chicken breasts (everyday), I think my Mom was trying to teach my sister a lesson, you would think I would have been sick of chicken breasts, but I enjoyed the bento every single day just like usual, hahaha!

    I pack Trini a “home lunch” everyday, when she first started kindergarten, some little boys picked on her because her lunch was different, it really bothered me and I asked her whether she wants me a pack an American lunch instead? She said NO WAY! I am eating my home lunch! Trinity went back to school the next day, when the boys started to pick on her again, she said “It’s my lunch and you guys don’t need to worry about what I eat!” That stopped them in their track, and she was never picked on again…

    Can’t wait to see more bentos from you!

  9. Your bento box looks so cute! My son have two breaks at school both are for half an hour. I’m thinking of adding more food to his lunch box since he is now (a big boy) 😉
    Thanks for the notes, I think using ice packs is a must to be on the safe side.

  10. What a great idea for a bento ! We love tonkatsu at home any day ~ my husband worked in Tokyo for a few years and he remembers tonkatsu as his first meal there. Thanks for the bento packing tips – even when we bring lunch to work, this will be helpful. Have a great weekend, Nami!

  11. nice bento, Nami, your boy is so lucky :)
    many times, simple is the best! :)
    my girl is a very slow eater too, bringing lunchbox to school and coming home with it empty is a rare occasion, thats why i always try to make her eat more whenever she’s at home :)

  12. Your kids are lucky to have such a creative and talented mom and cook like you. This looks so appetizing and my daughter would love this in her lunch box!
    Looking forward to more yummy ideas.

  13. I’m so jealous of your son’s lunch. My mom never made me anything like that, I was just happy when my p.b.&j. wasn’t smashed to heck when I opened the bag at lunch time. He is going to be the envy of the lunch room. He will have a great year if you keep packing him yummy lunches like this.

  14. Your bento box looks beautiful. Not too girly for a 6yr old boy or with too many messy sauces for little hands to smear.

    I’m curious how a ‘regular lunch box’ differs from a bento box that it would require food to be cooled down before being put in the lunch box and a bento box does NOT. Or at least, that is the implication.

    • I’m not sure if I understood your question perfectly (sorry!), but did you mean “regular lunch box” as in Western style lunch box? If the lunch box is not thermo, then lunch box should be closed after food is being cooled. When it’s still warm and closed, it gets risky. For Japanese style bento, most of it has big portion (half at least) of warm/hot rice, and I wanted to make sure rice is completely cooled before closing lunch box. Hope I answered to your question (I’m not sure if I did…).

      • I’m not familiar with thermo lunch boxes. That’s a little too high tech for me. :) I usually just throw a sandwich on a bun and a container of yogurt with a freezer into a padded lunch box and head out. I don’t usually have fridge space at the various schools I supply/substitute teach so my lunches are on their own.

        “then lunch box should be closed after food is being cooled”

        Does this mean the cooled food is put into the lunch box, and then it’s closed or does it mean that warm food is put into the lunch box, allowed to cool and THEN closed?

        • I’m sorry my English wasn’t clear (in my mind I know what I want to say, but it’s had to construct clear instructions in English – my husband always gets confused by my English!).

          Either way is fine as long as food is cooled down before the lunch box is closed. I usually pack while I prepare and wait for them to cool down first, before I closed the lid. But depending on the location of the food in lunch box, let’s say if I want to put cold food next to relatively warm food, it might be better if I cool the warm food outside the box first then put it in the box.

          Basically the rule is to cool down the food before you close the lid. :) Thermo container works great for winter time when you want to bring soup for lunch. It last warm for a few hours! I also pack sandwiches 1-2 times a week for him too! 😀

          • Thank you for taking the time to clarify the matter for me. It now makes perfect sense. :) I can just picture you making lunch for your little boy the way the father in the movie ‘Eat, Drink, Man, Woman’ did for the little girl next door. She was the envy of her friends and they requested that she ask her neighbour if he could make lunches for THEM as well. They weren’t bento (it takes place in China) but they were amazing.

  15. Candice

    Love the bento box, Nami! I wish I could make nice bentos. I’m sure your son finished it within 30 minutes as it looked so appetizing. =) I’m sure your son was the luckiest kid in class to have his mom pack him a nice home cooked meal.

    Have a wonderful weekend! :)

  16. Sometimes, looking at the bentos at the internet, I wish I was a kid again to enjoy them or I can also prepare the food for my kids. The schools provide the food here instead. At home, I try to make my kids’ food as interesting as possible. I know I will love this series Nami! Thanks for sharing!

  17. What a beautiful lunch, Nami! Your son is a lucky boy. You are inspiring me to be a little more creative with my sons’ lunches. Do you think chicken breasts could be subbed in the Tonkatsu? It sounds divine. Have a wonderful weekend!

  18. Oh Nami your bento looks wonderful. It’s a challenge for parents to prepare food that childrens can eat just looking at it.¿, your son is very lucky.
    My mother used to send to us just sandwichs in our lunch box, and actually I don’e send to food for my son, he doesn’t want to “invest” his time eating if he can play, so he only takes the school lunch, which is great, the food is excellent.

  19. Kimmi

    This is fantastic!!! I’m really looking forward to the rest of the series, and the different combinations and ideas for bento. Since I just started work (out of college now), I am packing my lunches with leftovers from the last night’s dinner as well. There is something strangely satisfying about converting leftovers into a new meal… =)

  20. This is such a great idea, Nami! I do love all of the characters that I have seen lately but yours is just as fabulous. I’m looking forward to the series!

  21. your son is so lucky to have these bento boxes for lunch. im sure his friends would be so jealous hahah. i will be sharing another episode on TV soon regarding bento boxes (among other topics that they are giving me) and this pops out as THE ONE.

    Thanks Nami!

  22. Hi Nami! I think your Bento series is going to be a natural for you and I look forward to all the recipes, tips and suggestions:-) I love the idea of sending your son to school with his own gourmet lunch just suited to his tastes, such a very lucky special little guy:-) Have a wonderful relaxing weekend with your family!

  23. Eha

    Oh Nami – thank you for my Saturday in windy E Australia: just for once I have no argument to settle twixt the ‘foodie me’ and the ‘nutritionist me”: your bento box is just absolutely beautiful! In every possible way! And I am SO looking forwards to seeing more :) ! Loved bento boxes from the very first time I ‘met’ them in Japan – so wonderfully appetizing! But now you are ‘bringing them home’ to us in a more practical and approachable way! God bless – and, yes, your son will one day realize how very fortunate he has been!!

  24. The bento lunch box is so different from the lunch boxes that I see nowadays – brown paperbags or fancy metal lunch boxes with PB&J’s. Of course when I grew up (back in the old days :) ), kids ate in the cafeteria. Not to say that it was nutritious, but better than they get today. I love it that you send your 6 year old to school with a bento box! What a healthy meal! It’s so much fun spoiling kids isn’t it?!! :) I’m looking forward to this series!

  25. Nami, look at your nice Bento, i feel so shame. The bento lunch i prepared look so terrible, because i just simply put foods inside but never think how to arrange it beautifully..hahaha..But my children is able to eat a bit warm bento foods, because i send bento to school 10mins before the school lunch break since i just staying nearby to school..Looking forward more bento post from you, so i can learn from you and will try to make nice bento next time. Have a nice weekend!

  26. I would pack bentos for myself if I had the time! LOL This is super cute! I would love to eat your son`s lunch for a day~ I believe you will be able to achieve those cute cartoon bentos one day! :)

  27. SO excited for this new series! This bento looks awesome! If you’re looking to adopt a new kid into the house… pick me, pick me! I’d love to have this bento for lunch! 😀

  28. What a great looking bento. :) yes, I would love to learn more simple way to pack one as well since I have to pack 3 everyday. But somehow, my kids don’t like rice. They only like wraps, noodles, and sandwiches! @@ Wish me luck. hahaha….

  29. I used to LOVE taking my lunch to work everyday because I had some cute bento stuff, now I get to come home for lunch. I love that you will be posting bento box lunches :)

  30. What a fabulous lunch! I’d love to have one of these made for my lunch at work. :) I know Mr. N would really enjoy this type of lunch too. And you put this together so adorably!!!

  31. What a beautiful little bento! Ryan ordered me a bento box a few years ago for Christmas, and I love using it to cart my breakfast/lunch/dinners around. Thank you for sharing another beautiful set of photographs and tantalizing culinary ideas. I hope you have a beautiful weekend!

  32. This is great idea Nami. I love tonkatsu and you made it wonderfully. Enzo’s bento look delicious, healthy and pretty. I might use your idea very soon! Thank you for sharing, can’t wait to see more of your ideas!

  33. Nami, of course, your son´s bento box looks out of this world cute! The idea of putting together a “bento box series” is fantastic and it will be a lot of fun seeing all the different ideas that you come up with! And the first suggestions is healthy and wonderful – I think my kids would adore it if I took the time in the morning to prepare bento boxes. The lunch boxes that I put together are much less interesting than your bento box, believe me! But I will follow your series and try to pick up as many good ideas as possible!

    Have a wonderful Suday – I am looking forward to your next post!

  34. かわいらしいけど、がっつりいただけそうなお弁当!とんかつ弁当だなんて、女子にとっても魅力的なネーミングとルックス。でもゆずのドレッシングとか、トマトなどでさっぱり感もあって、これなら夏でもちゃんと食べられてしまいそう。


  35. Hey dear, how have u been? This is one dish that I would eat whenever I’m in Japan. I actually did a post in one of the restaurants in Tokyo that my friend had brought us there. Wonderful recipe!

  36. Congratulations, Nami! This is one of the greatest ideas you have had to develop your blog! Your bento is extremely beautiful and yet I am stunned to learn this is a real bento (not a special one made just for the photo and eaten at home). It’s easy to change the amounts and transform it into a bento for adults.
    I am extremely impressed and thrilled to see more bentos on your blog. I am sure your bentos will be very inspiring for me too. Even though I don’t make real bentos, I take packed lunch quite often and it’s usually an Asian dish (noodles, rice with stir-fried meat/vegetables, etc.) or nutritious salads, very often containing leftovers from the previous day. I also take a fruit or a salad if there are no vegetables in the dish, so in theory I make bentos, but they do not merit to be called obentos 😉 and definitely do not look as beautiful as this one. I hope I can improve my lunches thanks to your wonderful creative ideas!

  37. Plumeria

    What a beautiful bento! Looking forward to seeing more in your bento series now that I have to pack school lunches! Question: Where did you buy the tiny container for the yuzu dressing?

  38. I love the idea of a bento series! I certainly know what bento is, but don’t prepare it (or even eat it) so anything you come up with will look perfect to me! So nice to tailor this to the size of your son’s appetite; I’m sure as he grows, so will the size of his bento! Fun post – thank you.

  39. Wow, your 6-year old son’s lunch box is very impressive and healthy! Even though it’s got veggies and fruits, I bet his food is the lunch box that many of his friends and school kids wish they get! =) And it looks like quite a bit of food. I am surprised that he can finish all of that, especially in 30 minutes. That must mean he enjoys your food! =)

  40. Your children are very lucky to have a mother like you, very loving and very caring. Keep it up because they will always remember that as part of their childhood memories and they will talk about it like how you talk about your mom. If I am your son, I would feel very spoiled with this delicious looking Tonkatsu. :)

  41. This is going to be a wonderful feature! I was also thinking of creating a “lunch box” regular feature, but haven’t had the time to organize everything yet! I was initially inspired by some lunch boxes I saw at Pottery Barn (which I, unfortunately spent too much on…was thinking of returning them, hehe.) Maybe we can start a group :) Hehe, just a thought…not serious one. LOL!1

  42. OMG Nami! You are my idol. 😀 I loveeee tonkatsu but have never made it at home before. Now you have tempted me! Your bento is so cute. 😀 I’ve tried making bentos before, it takes a lot longer to make than I expected. Japanese mothers are so hard working!

  43. Nami, this is beautiful and adorable! If only all school lunches were like this, child obesity wouldn’t be a problem. Love the addition of fresh veggies. Have you ever heard of Fluffernutters? They’re a traditional lunch or snack for kids in the Boston area, although these days some schools have banned them. It’s a sandwich made of peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. Doesn’t that sound awful? I’ve never had one and the combination sounds gross, nothing fresh in there and all that sugar. I’d much rather have your bento box! :)

  44. Hi Nami! I’m so happy to see your new series on bento here! You did your first bento very well, so nice and delicious!
    I feel that we don’t have to be a bento expert in order to pack lunchboxes for our kids, so I’m really glad that you chose to ignore that! 😀
    As long as we know that they’ll be eating well and most importantly, eating more with all of their favorites in their bentos! This is what I always do in order to make sure that Trinke eats her food in school everyday (within 30 mins also). I’ll let her decide what she wants and the portions in her bento, otherwise, she will bring back half-eaten or even barely touched lunch box, although the portion is really very little!

    Hope to see more of your bento creations! 😉

  45. I love all the bento bloggers – that make the cutest stuff! That being said, I think your son’s bento is perfectly portioned and looks great. So did you reheat his tonkatsu, etc. in the morning before sending him off to school? I know you mentioned how important it was for the food to be cooled down before you closed the bento lid.

  46. Hey Nami! I’m so grateful you started a bento series, I constantly look at your bentos for inspiration for my fiancé’s bento. I like that you don’t do charaben because I am not that interested in it; maybe when I have kids I will be but the cute accessories are more than enough and I care more about the taste of the food than it looking like mickey mouse or hello kitty..they’re great looking, but whenI was a kid I would feel so guilty about eating cute things..I think now I would feel even more guilty because they’re too cute! Maybe it’s just me, because I felt guilty biting off gummy bear parts I had to eat them whole so I wouldn’t feel like I was hurting something..
    Don’t worry, my mom complained SO BAD when my brother and I were young that we ate too slowly..sometimes it would go to two hours.. I think it’s an Asian kid thing cos my American friends did not have that problem! LOL!
    For some reason now I eat almost as fast as my I wish I ate a lot slower! I even eat faster than my dad and I’m like come on!! Than my dad??!! I’m really working on eating slower now isn’t it silly and ironic?


    • Hi Catt! I really wish that I could keep up everything on my blog – bento series is one of things that I haven’t updated for a while… I’ve been focusing on YouTube channel lately and I haven’t had the time to work on bento lately….feeling bad! I really hope to come back with bento recipes regularly though.

      I’m the same way – I really like the regular bento. My mom never made character bento and I probably wished sometimes that my bento was cuter. But personally, I can’t stand the cold slice cheese on top of rice (this is just me – if the cheese is grilled I’m completely okay) so I am not into cutting cheese and all that stuff to create character (I made one character bento recently, but you see, I used sandwich to put cheese on top. LOL). Anyway, I’m more interested in packing neatly, colorfully, and look like adult bento box (even for kids. haha).

      My kids eat sloooooow – I think they are better than when this post was originally published (2 years ago), but still they could eat faster…. But yeah like you said, I won’t worry too much. You made a really good point!

      Thank you so much for writing! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!