On Sunday, February 22, 2015, the Consulate-General of Japan in Houston and the Japan-America Society of Houston (JASH) co-hosted the 2015 Houston Bento Contest Final Battle at H-E-B at Bunker Hill and I-10. In the fourth year of the contest the consulate welcomed 5 contestants including 2 six graders who passed the photo competition to compete in this final battle.
Deputy Consul-General Atsushi Iwasaki acted as a judge for the contest and delivered welcoming remarks. Recalling his own childhood memories, Mr. Iwasaki stated “Bento is one of the essential bonds between the Japanese family members. Because bento is rooted very deeply in Japanese life, understanding bento leads you to a deeper understanding of Japanese culture.” (link)
The five finalists were given 10 minutes to create a bento with an assortment of HEB food items. Mr. JJ Naoki, President & CEO of Satake USA, Inc.; Mr. Glen Gondo of Gondo Company, Inc.; Mr. Bill Weiland, President of JASH, Ms. Angela Robles, H-E-B Area Community Coordinator; and Deputy Consul-General Atsushi Iwasaki were set with the difficult task of judging the five bento.
The following contestants competed in the bento-packing battle after winning a preliminary category:
Josiah Ho: Most Healthy
Yuko Ouchi: Most Delicious
Runa Katayama: Most Traditional
Sayaka Stephens: Most Creative
Junko Janvier: Most Comical
Link to the contestants preliminary and final bento.
After much deliberation, the judges announced Mrs. Junko Janvier as the Bento-Box Champion.
Following the packing contest Mrs. Noriko Komatsu Herring gave a brief lecture about Umami. Umami was first recognized in Japan and is known as the “fifth primary taste” after the four basic, or 'primary', tastes: sweet, sour, salt and bitter. During the lecture, guests had chance to try and compare different foods using umami. After the lecture, all the guests tried their hand at making onigiri, or rice-balls, using “umami rice” and a new crop of rice offered by Satake. Because this year’s theme was umami, Ajinomoto Co., the first umami maker, and soy sauce maker Yamasa USA, offered their products to guests to bring authentic Japanese tastes back home with them.
Special thanks go to H-E-B’s Sushiya, Satake USA Incorporated, Mr. Glen Gondo, Ajinomoto Co., and Yamasa USA.
2 cups …Rice
4 square inch …Konbu seaweed
1 Tbs…Soy Sauce
1. Put Konbu seaweed in 2 cups water over night. (If you skip step 1, add Konbu seaweed at step 3 and soak and cook with rice.)
2. Wash rice.
3. Add 1 (Konbu and Konbu water) and soy source. Soak rice at least 10 minutes. Add more water if necessary.
4. Cook rice.
*When you eat rice, add Nori seaweed and/or sesame seeds to get calcium and mineral. It will be easy and balanced meal with chunky miso soup.