But there’s one unexpected problem with this series of takikomigohan in a can.

“Bento” is on its way to becoming a universally understand word among global foodies, but when it requires a translation, “boxed lunch” is generally the best choice. So we were kind of surprised on a recent shopping trip when we found the shelves of our supermarket stocked with Canned Bento.

That’s what Tokyo-based canned food company Sunyo calls this product line, which consists of a trio of takikomigohan varieties. Takikomigohan is usually made in a rice cooker, where you combine rice with broth plus meat and/or vegetables and cook everything together. Of course, that means a lot of prep work, plus the lengthy process of cooking an entire pot of rice, so being the lazy/busy (mostly lazy) people we are, the Canned Bento series sounded too appealing for us to pass up, so into our basket went one of each type: gyumeshi (beef), torimeshi (chicken), and gomokumeshi (chicken with mixed vegetables).

▼ Gyumeshi

However, there’s more to eating Canned Bento than just cracking open the lid and digging in. You actually toss the cans into boiling water for 15 minutes for them to cook.

While this means you don’t get instant gratification, it’s still quicker than making takikomigohan from scratch, and a lot less work. Since the cans are metallic, obviously they’re going to get very hot, so you’ll want to use tongs or mitts when handling and opening them.

As we poured the contents out onto plates, the slight inconvenience of having to boil the can suddenly felt totally worth it. With ready-to-eat rice from a can or microwavable rice packs, the grains often end up either wet and mushy or dry and hard. That wasn’t the case with our Canned Bento at all, though, as the rice’s texture and moistness were as good as if we’d prepared it in our rice cooker.

Following the beef-is-best philosophy, we started with the gyumeshi, which had a measure of sweetness to its otherwise savory seasoning, and was entirely satisfying.

Moving on to the torimeshi, the chicken here is accompanied by diced onion. There isn’t a ton of it, but it’s enough to give it an enticing aroma, and enough complexity to keep your taste buds happily engaged.

Finally, the brightest star of the bunch is the gomokumeshi, which contains chicken, shiitake mushroom, gobo (burdock root), and carrot, a delicious combination that we completely devoured right away.

That actually brings us to an ironic problem with the Canned Bento. Like all canned foods, one of the selling points is that they’ll keep for a long time, so you can buy a bunch and have a stock on hand for when you’re in a pinch for lunch or dinner. However, they were all so tasty that we ate through our entire stock pretty much as quickly as we could.

▼ Ahh, such happy memories.

On the plus side, though, The Canned Bento are price at 299 yen (US$2.80) a can, making them far more affordable than the canned Yoshinoya chow we ate a while back, so it shouldn’t be too hard for us to scrounge up enough change to restock.

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