Kobe beef’s fiercest rival is the star of this sukiyaki ekiben that not only tastes amazing, but sounds great too.

Close your eyes and picture a bento, or Japanese boxed lunch. Odds are you’re thinking of an elegant oblong container. Maybe it has a lacquer-like varnish, or some pseudo mother of pearl accents in the shape of sakura petals.

But odds are you weren’t picturing anything like this.

Believe it or not, though, that too is a bento. Called the Mootaro Bento, the sukiyaki boxed lunch is available in the Matsuzaka region of Mie Prefecture, and its comprehensive commitment to beef in both exterior and interior is because Matsuzaka beef is one of most prized varieties of meat in all of Japan, often mentioned in the same breath with its more internationally famous rival, Kobe beef.

We happened across this bento while we were passing through Matsuzaka Station, which has a shop selling ekiben (“station bento”) right inside the ticket gate. To be honest, we’d just eaten lunch when we walked by, and weren’t hungry in the least…

but could you say no to that powerful, commanding gaze? Of course not, and neither could we, so we handed over the 1,350 yen (US$12) and bought a Mootaro Bento to take home, with the decision made extra-easy by the fact that the container can be microwaved.

By the time we got home, we were feeling hungry again. Before heating the Mootaro Bento up, though, we decided to take a peek at it, so we tore off the paper covering and removed the lid…

…only for…

music to start playing!

Attached to the inside of the lid is a sensor that plays the song “Furusato.” It’s a high-tech touch for Ekiben Aratake, Mootaro Bento’s maker, considering that the company traces its roots all the way back to 1895.

The sensor should be removed before microwaving, and is reusable, with Ekibe Aratake claiming a longevity of roughly 2,000 playbacks.

After a minute in the microwave, our beef bento was warmed up, with the delicious smell of Matsuzaka beef and rice wafting out of the cow-shaped container.

As one of Japan’s most gourmet types of beef, Matsuzaka beef is heavily marbled for rich flavor and extra juiciness. The Mootato Bento lives up to the legacy, and the only disappointment we had was disappointment in ourselves for not buying two so we could have another one the next day.

▼ Plus we would have had two cow masks to play with.

At least we’ve got the music sensor to remind us of our meal, but every time we hear it, we just start craving beef all over again.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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