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Posted on Feb 16, 2008 in SF Bay Area Local, Shopping | 4 comments

SF Shopping: Sale at Sanko

SF Shopping: Sale at Sanko


Microwave-safe donburi bento box from Hakoya (open)

San Francisco Bay Area readers should be sure to check out Sanko, a small store in Japantown I’d browsed before but hadn’t noticed their bento box selection. Currently having a Presidents’ Day 10%-off sale until February 23, 2008, Sanko has San Francisco’s best selection of higher-quality men’s bento boxes, including Asvel and Hakoya brands. Look for the innovative microwave-safe donburi bento box from Hakoya (“Don Don Lunch Box”, full review here), which I haven’t seen locally before. Prices are not extremely cheap, but you’ll find excellent quality things here you won’t find elsewhere. Courteous and helpful, their staff is known to occasionally serve tea to customers in lovely Japanese tea cups. (Click to read the full review…)

Microwave-safe donburi bento box from Hakoya (closed)Their small bento section is located in the furthest-right aisle when you walk in; there you’ll also find some children’s boxes (3-tier nesting/stacking Lilo & Stitch boxes for about $11, a better price than nearby Moritaya) and nice Hakoya boxes for women in addition to the plain but sturdy large Asvel boxes for men. Bins outside have discount merchandise, but Ichiban Kan and Daiso are cheaper for things like onigiri rice ball molds. (Click any photo for a larger view.)

Good luck owl bandanna

Sanko also has a good selection of unusual furoshiki wrapping cloths and Japanese-themed bandannas that are the right size for wrapping up a bento box (shown here). Reduced-price bandannas like the one shown at left are in a rack on the floor across from the bento boxes, furoshiki are hanging in the rear corner of the adjoining room. They have a lot of owl-themed merchandise, which evidently has become popular in Japan over the last four years as a symbol of good luck (fukurou, the Japanese word for owl, is a homophone for “no struggles” 不苦労 or welcoming good luck 福来朗) . Chinese traditionally regard owls as bad luck, though, so think twice before giving these to your Chinese friends!

If you’re in the area anyway, stop by the Ichiban Kan discount store and check out their reorganized store with new shelving. Their new shelves show off the products better so it’s easier to see the full variety without digging around. I’ve updated the SF Bay Area shopping guide for bento gear; thanks go to reader Uyek for the heads up on Sanko’s bento box selection. (Disclaimer: I have no commercial affiliation with Sanko.)

1758 Buchanan Street (in Japantown)
San Francisco, CA (415) 922-8331



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  1. This website is amazing! I don’t have kids but I take my lunch to work every day and this has given me so many great ideas my mind is reeling with the possibilities.

    My question is, do you or any of your loyal readers know of any shops in L.A. to get the bento supplies? Especially the decorative foils and the little cups and dividers, etc? I went to the websites of some of the places you mentioned and I don’t see any L.A. locations. Or if there’s a website where I can order the items, that’d be even better! Thanks!

    And kudos to you for making such great lunches for your child every day!!

  2. @1 from Norah Nick: Thank you for the kind words (and nice name, BTW! We almost named our pair of kittens Nick & Norah before settling on Moose & Squirrel).

    For L.A. bento sources, try Marukai, Mitsuwa and 98 Cent Plus Gardena Store — full info on the geographic shopping guide that the LiveJournal Bentolunch community put together: They also have an online shopping guide (linked from my Shop page).

  3. Thank you very much! After I posted my question yesterday, I found all the links on your site where I can buy what I want, so thank you! For some reason I can’t see your entire site on IE7 at home but can see everything with IE6 at the office. So, as soon as I logged on at work, I had the answers I needed. I will definitely check out the shops you mentioned. Thanks for replying.

    Everything you make looks SO delicious and really cute. I never thought I’d be that interested in Asian cooking but after seeing your pictures I want to make everything on the website. LOL

  4. @3 from Norah Nick: Thanks for the heads up on IE7 vs. IE6. I talked with a web guy today and told him your issue, and he’s going to look into it. If you feel like it, could I ask you to e-mail me with differences/issues you’ve noticed so I can tell the web dude? Thank you for your help in improving the site!