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Posted on Jul 17, 2009 in admin, Amorette, Giveaway, Laptop Lunchbox | 35 comments

RIP Ichiban Kan online

RIP Ichiban Kan online


My apologies to everyone for dropping off the face of the earth lately — it’s been a weird time and I’ve been going through something of a crisis. (Arg.) Time to get back on the bento ball! Lots of updates today; with Ichiban Kan closing its online store and opening a new San Bruno retail location in the Tanforan Mall, a kiwifruit recipe contest that I’ll be judging with a US$2,500 grand prize, a recent Lunch 2.0 round table blogger discussion I moderated, a new bento cookbook that’s out, and more.

1. Ichiban Kan closes online store

Ichiban KanFirst off, I’m sad to say that Ichiban Kan recently closed its online store, although its retail stores in the SF Bay Area remain open. They were a good US source of cheap bento gear (like US$1!), and I’m sad to see them go. Products seemed to fly off the shelves, so there’s hope that they’ll be back — check their blog for updates. Fingers crossed that they change their business model and reopen the online store, maybe at increased prices to remain viable. I mean, cheap is good and all, but not if it drives them out of business!

In any event, Ichiban Kan has opened a new retail store in the Tanforan Mall in San Bruno, CA, so if you’re nearby you might want to check that out (1150 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA 94066, tel: 650-244-9920). For additional sources, check out my list of online stores for bento gear, as well as the Bento Store Locator with Google Maps and reader feedback for retail sources near you. (Read on for details of a recipe contest with $2,500 prize, a Lunch 2.0 round table that I moderated, a new bento cookbook, and the upcoming BlogHer ’09 panel on food blogging.)

Display table at Lunch 2.0 event

2. Lunch 2.0 Kiwifruit Recipe Contest & Round Table

Lunch 2.0 round table at CalafiaIn other news, I’m helping judge a Kiwi for Lunch blogger contest where US-based semifinalists are eligible for a US$2,500 prize. Submit an original recipe using kiwifruit by August 7, 2009 for a shot at the big prize! The other judges and I will be kid-testing the semifinalist recipes with our children — the ultimate truth-tellers.

This follows a Lunch 2.0 round table for a group of mommy bloggers that I moderated last month; we had a lively discussion with Charlie Ayers (author of cookbook Food 2.0, owner of Calafia Café and Market A-Go-Go in Palo Alto, and former Google chef) about packing lunch for our children. Amy Hemmert of Laptop Lunchbox fame came and showed off their new Bento 2.0 product line with bento-friendlier containers and with fun new bags (Bug is very partial to the alien-themed one). The Zespri kiwifruit folks are putting together a YouTube video with highlights from the session; I’ll point that out once it’s done. Here are a few pictures in the meantime:

Amy Hemmert & me:
Amy Hemmert & Deborah "Biggie" Hamilton

Amy Hemmert & Charlie Ayers:
Amy Hemmert & Charlie Ayers

3. Bento Cookbook: 501 Bento Box Lunches

A new bento cookbook is out that’s made up of contributions by folks from the online bento community, with a forward written by Amorette Dye (Sakurako Kitsa, who has contributed a series of decorative art bento posts here). 501 Bento Box Lunches has a series of cute bento ideas and simple recipes for children, with a plethora of color pictures. I’ll be reviewing it more comprehensively later on. Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to bring this about; I know it’s been a long slog for you.

4. BlogHer ’09 Food Blogging Panel

I’ll be speaking at the sold-out BlogHer ’09 conference in Chicago next week on the food blogging panel (FoodBlogging in the Time of Recession). Looking forward to the panel with the minds behind Simply Recipes, A Year in Crockpotting, Show Me the Curry, and Wine Girl, and to meeting lots of bloggers with great ideas and experiences. See you next week!


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  1. Oh darn about Ichiban Kan. :(

    On a bright note, I did manage to make it out there in person while visiting San Francisco and my mom a couple weeks ago. Thanks again for your bento locator list for San Francisco! I picked up a lot of neat things, and I probably have more bentos than I actually need now. :)

  2. Hey Biggie, hope everything’s ok! Glad to hear from you though.
    Good luck at the conference!!!

  3. I’m glad you’re alive! Too bad about ichiban kan.

  4. YAY!!!

    A new post!

  5. Hey, good to see you back in action!

  6. Well I managed to get one last order in thanks to all the warnings on the forum about the closure!

    Hope all is well Biggie. Glad to see you back!

  7. Sometimes life comes before blogging (what?!). Sending you lots of well wishes. Great post, glad to see you’re back (although you never really went away).

  8. Glad to see you’re back. I hope everything’s okay now. Best of wishes~

    Yeah, I was real sad about Ichiban Kan’s online store closing. I was able to get one last order in, but I do hope they reopen. Bento pickin’s are slim here. :/

  9. Hope all is well with you. Glad to have you back :-)

  10. ditto the above - glad you’re back, hope everything’s ok.

  11. So glad to see your post. I hope things smooth out for you soon!

  12. It’s good to see you back again. I hope all is well with you and your family.

  13. Nice to “see” you back! Hope all is well.

  14. Ah, I kinda wrote it off as a “summer break”. Sad about Ichiban Kan - my coworkers and I put together a massive order during their cheaper shipping sale and everyone was so giddy when all the cute stuff arrived. It’d be nice if they reopen it later but even nicer if a similarly focused store opened up locally. ;p

    That book sounds cute; I’ll probably pick it up after your review.

  15. I was just in San Fran and used your bento gear list of stores to locate Ichibankan and had a blast there. I bought two bentos (cheap) for friends who I am trying to convert into lunch packers. Matching chopsticks and some food picks and of course the much needed sauce piggies. I am having fun giving out these inexpensive, yet fun gifts. Thanks for the resource. Sorry to see the on-line store is gone, but I enjoyed the real thing.

  16. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Ichibankan online will be sorely missed :(

  17. Sad to see them go and hope to see them back soon.

  18. Hope you post again soon.

    BTW, Disney Store (online and in store) has character bento boxes on sale now, three for $12 (usually $5.50 each). There are princesses, fairies, Mickey, Cars and a couple others. Much cheaper than lunch boxes, that’s for sure!

  19. I forgot to add, search for “food containers” to find bento boxes in Disney’s online store. They don’t come up with the other lunch stuff.

  20. Thanks for the heads up on the Bento cookbook: 501 Bento Box lunches. Looks excellent, and something I’m very interested in reading about. Thank you!

  21. Hope you come back soon! This last post was July 17th and today is August 16th!

  22. biggie….i hope you can post again soon! you are very much missed!
    I look to this site for inspiration and how to….my first bento lunches…and, my husband is impressed and excited!

    please come back….your fans miss you….and, your lurkers like me miss u too!!!

    i truly hope all is well, or getting better soon :-))

  23. biggie-

    Hope things are going okay? your presence is sorely missed.

  24. I know you’ve been dealing with some issues lately Biggie, but are you EVER going to update you page anymore?

  25. Missing your blog updates Biggie :(
    Miss you very much!

  26. Thanks for the update. I’m so happy you are safe. I look forward to seeing your upcoming posts.
    I miss your blog updates.
    Hope you are happy and safe in the interim.

  27. Oh I hope whatever crisis that is has passed, or is on its way out. I’m glad to know you’re back!

  28. Hopefully your crisis is over by now! I guess I’m a little selfish in hoping you’ll come back to blogging :)

    I’ve been a lurker for a while, been a bit too shy to comment but I thought I’d let you know you’re in the Globe and Mail today! That’s one of our big newspapers up here in the Big Wide North of Canada. Congrats!

  29. Hi Biggie, I hope things are getting better for you. Please take your time coming back; your site is still an amazing treasure trove for people of all skill levels. Best regards to you and your family.

  30. I just finished reading through all of your posts in the archives. What a wonderful resource! Thank you.

    I hope is all well with you and you will be back posting soon.

  31. I miss your blog. I check back often and hope to see you return soon! I hope everything is going uphill! <3

  32. I love your bento blog so much!!

  33. Hi, I have good news to reports! Ichiban Kan’s online store is closed, but Daiso Japan now has an online store that ships all over the US, and it says to other international countries, but does not specify. The url is I was just grieving such a cheap online store for all my bento needs, and a new one has finally opened! yay~

    If this is old news, sorry >> Last time I checked (when ichiban kan closed) daiso didn’t have an online store. So yay!

  34. Such a bummer on the Ichiban Kan store, their prices were awesome! Hope the start of your Fall is going well and that past crises are over or heading that way.

  35. A new bento article on my favorite news site,, that quotes you!