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Posted on Jul 9, 2008 | 47 comments

Hakoya bento boxes at Kamei in San Francisco

Hakoya bento boxes at Kamei in San Francisco

 Hakoya boxes at Kamei, San Francisco

380ml Orange flower bento box by HakoyaI popped into the large Kamei kitchenware store in San Francisco yesterday, and was surprised to see about a hundred small Hakoya-brand bento boxes cheaply priced at $10.50 regardless of size or design! The store tells me that they just got them in this week, and plan to keep them in stock. They’re not with the rest of the bento boxes in the left-hand section of the store, but are in a middle aisle of the store’s right-hand section by the sushi molds and juubako multiple-person serving boxes.

Made by Japanese company Tatsumiya Shikki Co., Ltd., Hakoya-brand bento boxes, chopsticks, and kinchaku lunch bags are of high quality and available in traditional Japanese designs. This marks an expansion of Kamei’s bento box selection, which up to now has leaned towards the utilitarian and plain (many Lock & Lock, GlassLock, Chinese off-brands, and the occasional Asvel man’s bento box). (Read on for details and more photos of Kamei’s Hakoya bento box selection.)

380ml Orange flower bento box by HakoyaBox details:  At the time of posting, Kamei stocks ten different Hakoya designs, including one that is safe for both microwave and dishwasher (the white one in the brown cardboard box in the photo below on the far left). The others are not recommended for the microwave. All ten are two-tier boxes from 280ml to 480ml with an elastic bento band, removable inner tier with sealing inner lid, and a separate top lid. The designs are mostly feminine, but there is a beige and navy blue one that’s more masculine and plain (below, center). The masculine one is still quite small at 415ml, though, so it’s still more of a child’s box or a side dish box for an adult. (See my guide to choosing the right size bento box.)

The orange box that I bought is 380ml, with a 140ml top tier and a 240ml bottom tier.  When empty, the inner tier can be turned over and nested into the bottom tier to save space in your bag after eating. (Click the photos for a larger view.)

Hakoya bento boxes at Kamei in San Francisco

Store info:

Kamei Restaurant & Supply
507 Clement St (in the Inner Richmond)
(between 6th Ave & 7th Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94118 (415) 666-3699

See my full store review at the San Francisco Bay Area shopping guide for bento gear. I’ve also left updated feedback on the store’s entry in the Bento Store Locator (BSL). (Disclaimer: I have no commercial affiliations with Kamei or Hakoya.)

FURTHER READING:

47 Comments

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  1. Really cool!! I am stil looking for a totoro box that doesn’t cost close to 30 dollars.
    I am really envious for all these utensils and bento boxes, tsk tsk tsk tsk (grumbling at the same time).

  2. drool drool drool..if we have that store here, i get that dark pink one. ha ha.

  3. $10.50 is cheap? Wow. How much do these brand of boxes generally go for?

  4. I’m so jealous!! I can’t find any stores that carry bento boxes around here…So far I have had to order all my bento gear online:(

  5. If we had that store here in Alabama, I would have to have the blue one in the top photo.

  6. I’m so jealous that you can get those near you – drooling over them, want a couple! lol I wonder if our Sacramento friend will be in San Fran anytime soon… hmmmm – hehe

  7. Awww…. 10.50 is cheap though? I guess the Urara ones are made in China (I think) so they’re not as good?
    Ahhh… no. I don’t need more bento!!!

  8. Do they have an online catalog?

  9. Oh man! I wish we had stores like that in Atlanta! Not that I need more boxes, but they’re so pretty looking!

  10. Yes, $10.50 is cheap. At the Uwajimaya in Seattle, Hakoya bento boxes tend to run between $15.00 to $20.00 depending on the style. With the drop in the value of the dollar, the price will probably go up soon, too.

  11. Wow! Nice find biggie, that IS cheap!!!!!

  12. @3 from Sile: As Jeff mentioned, the Hakoya boxes generally run $15-$20 and higher for the larger boxes. I’ve never seen them lower than $15 before, let alone this kind of selection!

  13. @5 from lawremc: That one was my personal favorite as well, but Bug got really excited about the orange one. I think it’s awfully girly for a boy, but it made him happy and it’s a fun change of pace from the other boxes I have.

  14. @7 from Yvo: It seems high, but $10.50 is indeed cheap for the Hakoya boxes. As Jeff mentioned in comments, they generally go for $15-$20 and higher for the larger boxes (I’ve never seen them for less than $15). There’s no comparison in quality between these and the cheapo Urara boxes — the Hakoya boxes are much better quality, with an inner lid that seals properly and top lid designs that won’t rub off with use. The box itself is much thicker and more durable than the Urara: built to last forever with proper care.

  15. @8 from kia: I’m sorry, but I haven’t been able to find an online catalog for them. If anyone else knows of one, please feel free to weigh in!

  16. @10 from Jeff: Thanks for the price feedback, Jeff — that syncs up with what I’ve seen locally and online.

  17. UPDATE from the store: Only the big white box on the far left in the second store photo is microwave- and dishwasher-safe, not the two boxes. Will update the entry once I’m back at a computer later today. My apologies for the error.

  18. Hi! I’m dropping a comment via safari, still can’t access your comment section via firefox.

    Love the Bento boxes. Wish we had some of those for sale here in Malaysia.

    Have a good day!

  19. @19 from Eliz: For parking near Clement Street, I used to park in the lot behind Smart & Final, do some shopping there, then quickly pop over to Kamei. Then I got busted by the parking lot guy at Smart & Final for leaving, so I don’t do that any more — just circle and circle like everyone else. I brought lots of quarters today and parked right in front of Kamei, but kept a close eye on my watch as DPT is VERY QUICK to ticket around there.

  20. @19 from Eliz: D’oh! I forgot to answer your question about the Lock & Lock sets. It’s worth checking their inventory regularly, because they do occasionally get the L&L lunch sets there for cheap (much cheaper than Kukje, which often has them at double the Kamei price). Today Kamei had three types of L&L multi-person picnic sets (two insulated, one not), but none of the smaller single-person sets. Do go check out them out in the back right hand corner of the left section of the store, though — they’ve got a really cute one with a striped carrying case and blue inner containers. I just can’t rationalize the purchase of a second picnic set or I would have picked that up as well.

  21. @20 from Bento Pet: ARGH! Thanks for letting me know about your continued problem viewing comments via Firefox on a Mac. I’ll check with my web guys as I’ve exhausted my knowledge. Where exactly does the page STOP loading for you?

  22. That is one droolicious find! I think you have a superb blog here and I find myself coming back again and again!

  23. I come to you via the BlogHer newbie post. Hello!

    You’re site is so visually pleasing – beautiful!

  24. Tammy: Your Sacramento friend doesn’t need to go to SF to find them! I saw them yesterday at Oto’s on Freeport (they just got them in this week as well). They are really very nice quality (I only bought one, but it was a hard choice!)

  25. @Ashley: I’m in Sacramento too! Definitely gonna look at Oto’s before braving the drive/parking in SF.

  26. I wish stores around here had bentos like those for sale. All I’ve been able to find is Lock & Locks and one style of the traditional bento.

    http://www.krisaki.wordpress.com

  27. Sigh. If only we had anything like Kamai here in Chicago. We have a lot number of Korean stores and Mitsuwa out in the burbs which both have a selection of Lock and Lock and the Asvel Vive! boxes. It’s amazing what the price difference is between the stores–anywhere between $5-7 for the Asvel boxes! I’ve been using the Asvel boxes a lot for my older son’s lunches and the Lock and Lock for my husband’s–both are a huge hit.

  28. Biggie, thank you for working so hard on sorting my problem. I enjoy visiting your site often and get frustrated having to use both on Firefox (which works better for me) and Safari when it comes to your site in particular.

    On Firefox, when I click to view the comments, the page just ends here “July 9th, 2008 | Categories: Containers, SF Bay Area local, bento, equipment, shopping | Print This Post Print This Post | Email this post Email this post | 29 Comments »

  29. @30, Bento Pet, Hmmm… I use Firefox and have none of the issues you describe. Have you declined add ons, pop ups or set the programs so that they interfere with the other? With using firefox as my standard I don’t use safari as well. Using the two, al beit not at the same time, makes the computer slow and prone to crashes of the internet hookup. Not with this site specifically but all over.

  30. I love the Hakoya boxes but I don’t need any more for me. I’m having a tough time finding simple ones like the Vive made by Asvel for my twins. The boys really don’t need Hello Kitty! The Montesorri they go to requires no character items on clothing, school or lunch items. I found a large ones for me and my husband but the smaller 430ml size still eludes me. It doesn’t help that at this picky stage one wants red and the other wants blue!

  31. Mari:

    I have a couple of 430 ML Asvel Boxes that I’m going to be putting up on my ecrater store. I have a yellow box and two light blue ones. Haven’t seen the red ones anywhere. Petit-Tableau.

    I should have it updated sometime tonight or tomorrow.

    MM

  32. I checked out Oto’s in Sacramento today after reading these comments and they have at bunch of boxes in! I got a Hakoya hot pink box with the flowers for $8.99! I also got a Leaflet tight lunchbox by Takeya with 3 compartments that come out and a lunch bag for $9.99 so I was super happy! Oh and I got new veggie cutters and a rice mold :)
    Anyone up here who can’t do the drive to S.F. should check out Oto’s on Freeport!

  33. @32 from Mari: Hope you saw Multicultural Mama’s response to your comment, where she’ll be selling a couple of the small Asvel boxes you’ve been looking for!

  34. Very nice find here. It would be a good food storage. Thanks a lot

  35. woo-hoo! thanks MM and Biggie!

  36. @32 from Mari: If you’re in the Bay Area, I saw the smaller Asvel Vive boxes at Kukje in Daly City yesterday — good selection, with plain Asvel boxes in 430ml, 490ml, 630ml, 810ml, and 950ml. Dear Label in 940ml, Leaflet boxes in 650ml and 800ml, and both small individual and large multi-person Lock & Lock lunch sets. Pricier than Kamei, but a good selection. Check the Bento Store Locator or my San Francisco Bay Area shopping guide for bento gear.

  37. ahhhh~~ theres nothing like that here in quebec… i wish someone could become a bento pen pal with me ;) he he he
    btw, thanks for ur wonderfull site!! im comin every day !

  38. OMG

    I bought the white box this weekend, it seemed to say it was microwave safe on the paper, but the lady at Kamei told me no (she had several annoying customer before me and didn’t really listen/understand what I was saying).

    Thank you Biggie!!!

    <– bought 2 more boxes this weekend.. I now have 15 sets! HELP ME!!

  39. Anne Marie,

    Check http://www.Ichibankanusa.com they ship all over the continental US, they might ship in Canada. I know they don’t ship to Alaska anymore though..

    I’m looking for places in Montreal for my brother to go shop at. If I find anything I’ll report on my blog..

    I’m from Quebec, lots of friends out there read my blog.. ;o)

  40. @42 from Willow: I checked out the photos on your blog, and you DEFINITELY bought the microwave-safe one — don’t pay attention to the checkout lady! Most of them can’t read Japanese, and the majority of the Kamei boxes aren’t safe for the microwave anyway (so at least she’s erring on the side of caution).

  41. Hoooooooomigod I love Kamei. I am completely incapable of leaving there empty-handed. Good thing everything’s so cheap in there!

  42. @45 from Sean @ Hedonia: Isn’t Kamei great? I was in another store today and overheard a woman seriously contemplating overpriced rice cookers and hot jar pots (for hot water). I took her companion aside and quietly recommended that they go to Kamei for a bigger selection at a cheaper price. They seemed happy to hear about Kamei, but you never know.

  43. Hi – I was wondering what the laquer is exactly. How “safe” is it for kid’s lunches/hot food etc. I’ve phased out plastic in favor of glass but really that is just incredibly impractical and I need a better solution. Thanks – Jennie

  44. Deborah, I need you help. I don’t know any other way to get a hold of you, than this. I am a huge fan of yours, and also a bento collector and enthusiast. I really really want, no need, the white and yellow Hakoya bento!!! I know that they have it at Kamei in San Francisco, but I live in Kansas and have no way of getting it. I was wondering if you could get a hold of one for me. I would pay for it and give you some extra money for your time. It is the white one with bunnies on it on the far left of the last picture. My email is [email protected]. PLEASE HELP ME OUT!!!