Friday, April 25, 2008

Shopping at Ichiban Kan, San Francisco

Many years ago I visited Ichiban Kan. I don't remember what I bought there, if anything, but I do recall an orange plastic hand-cranked paper shredder that I regretted not buying. It was very cute! And at the time, electric shredders were expensive and not very common for household use. Now they're de rigueur.

Anyhoo. Ichiban Kan was exceedingly packed on Saturday, which prevented me from doing a meticulous inventory, but I found a few fun things.
I love the idea of bento lunches, and Ichiban Kan is just the place to get the little plastic containers to do it right. They don't have everything, but they've got a lot.
Mainly I've been inspired by Biggies' posts at Lunch in a Box. She packs up the most amazing little lunches for her pre-schooler, and documents them thoroughly. He's enrolled at a Japanese immersion school, so no one thinks his lunches are "funny," lucky kid.
I wish I had someone to make up such tasty lunches for me! But no, I have to do it myself. My lunches tend to be a hodgepodge of this and that, anyway, so the things I got are really just to facilitate packing more efficiently. I don't plan to become an obsessive bentoista. (Though it's tempting!)

I did find some other useful kitchen things, too, like this little container that will be good for keeping coarse salt in next to the stove. I also got a small ladle.
A frivolous purchase was these egg molds. You boil your egg, peel it, then press it in the mold and put in cold water for 5 to 10 minutes. Silly but fun!
The long plastic box on the right has a little rack in the bottom, perfect for storing fish or asparagus.

I also got some molds for rice balls. I like rice! I will see how they work with regular rice. I also have some sweet rice, so they could make fun desserts.

I did not get this bento box below at Ichiban Kan, but at a stationery store down the mall, Kinokuniya. That place is hugely dangerous, too, but I resisted most of the temptations there. Cards, pens, paper, stickers!

But I have so much stationery already that I just couldn't justify it. Plus a companion who was getting antsy. So I contented myself with this.
It has little chopsticks in the top, and two containers, one with a movable divider, and an elastic strap to hold it together.
Another useful item, for language students: mini flashcards. As noted on the covers: "This goods is convenient to memorize a word."
I speak French and Chinese, and I'm studying Spanish, so flashcards are key for me. These little ones are perfect to carry anywhere.

Everything here (plus another divided plastic container, some small sauce containers and the little cream jars shown in the main photo) cost $15 total. The little bento box was $12.

Ichiban Kan has an online store now, but they're still working the kinks out. They do say they've got a big shipment of bento stuff coming in soon. So if you can't get to the SF store, you might find some fun things online.


  1. ooooOoooo
    that looks like FUN!
    i wish i couLd go there soon meseLf.
    hopefully i can visit a friend this summer and go to ichiban
    ive been drooling over the bento stores list from biggie's site
    i love that bear bento!

    here's my meager coLLection

  2. Have you tried the egg molds? I've been very intrigued with those and have seriously thought about ordering some.

    Looks like way too much fun!

  3. Fun indeed, Amy. And cheap fun at that!

    Hi aj! I looked through your lunches. You have some great variety there! I'm going to steal some of your ideas.

    Jessy, I'll bet there are some great bento supply places in NYC you could check out. (I think that's where you are?)

    Miss T, I have not tried the molds yet, but I'll post when I do.

  4. That was exciting, I felt like I went shopping with you. I got those rice molds but I haven't used them yet, I don't know where they are right now...

  5. Time to bring them out, blue! I've got rice soaking now to try them out.

  6. Love your post in Ichiban Kan! I LOVE THIS PLACE! There is one in El Cerrito too, on San Pablo. Must tell you this though - I got the same bento box you did at their ES location for only $2.50! A cute fabric bag, utensils to go with, etc. were also only $1-$3. I too have the egg molds and the silicone cups for the kids' lunches. They love them! The most fabulous thing I got there recently is a monster cell phone holder, made from vintage kimono fabric, just $4! I could go on and on... this is quite possibly the best store ever.

  7. Thanks, anon! You know, I was thinking that little bento seemed on the pricey side, but oh well! It's probably a good thing we don't have Ichiban Kan here or I would spend a lot of money, even though everything's so cheap.

    I'd love to see what that cellphone holder looks like.