This adorably delicious bento lunch features a fast and easy spin on classic cold soba noodles served with fresh and filling sides. Inspired by a few of my favorite Sanrio characters, this cute meal is sure to brighten any school (or work) day!
Before beginning, you will need: a sharp kitchen knife, bow cookie cutter, 1 inch round cookie cutter, 1/2 inch round piping tip or cookie cutter, 1 1/2 inch round cookie cutter, and 1 piece of card-stock if you'd like to create a template for the character's shapes.
*Tip: Place a tiny piece of cheese under any of the pieces of nori to keep them from curling.
Hello Kitty: Cook the somen noodles in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain. Rinse the noodles under cold water and drain again. Stir in enough toasted sesame oil to coat the noodles and keep them from sticking together. Transfer the noodles to your refrigerator while preparing the bento box. You can draw Hello Kitty's face shape onto a piece of card-stock paper to use as a guide. Cut the template out, if using, and lay it (with the side you drew on facing up), on top of the slice of white cheese. Use a sharp kitchen knife to carefully cut out the face shape. Place into your bento box. You can use either a fork, tongs, or chopsticks to neatly twist and place the cooled noodles on top of the cheese. I like to start from the inside and work my way out - placing the twisted piles of noodles on top of the cheese and using my utensil to spread them out to form the shape. Create the body first, then repeat to make each ear. You can place a little of the green onions and herb mixture around the noodle shape to create a separation and also to add flavor when eating them. Fold the nori sheet in half, and cut out 3 long sprinkle like shapes for the whiskers, and 1 small arched shape for her closed eyes (when you unfold the nori you should have 6 whiskers and 2 eyes). Transfer the nori cutouts to the top of your pasta. Use the sharp knife to cut an oval shape out of the yellow cheese and add to the noodles, placing in between the eyes and slightly down. Cut the bow shape out of bell pepper, and use the 1 inch cookie cutter or piping tip to cut a separate piece of pepper for Hello Kitty's iconic red bow. If the pieces will not lay flat on top of the noodles you can use toothpicks, underneath, to hold them in place. Fill in around your noodle character with any ingredients that you would like to enjoy with the noodles. I used pieces of curly kale. .
Keroppi: Cook the Cha Soba noodles in boiling water for 6 minutes, Remove from the heat and drain. Rinse the noodles under cold water and drain again. Stir in enough toasted sesame oil to coat the noodles and keep them from sticking together. If you'd like to add a little more color and flavor to your noodles you can also stir in the matcha powder. Transfer the noodles to your refrigerator while prepping as you did for Hello Kitty. Cut a long oval shape out of the cheese and place, in your bento box, below your Hello Kitty noodles (making sure to leave room for the eyes). Twist and drop the green noodles, and spread them to fill in the shape. Use the 1 1/2 inch round cookie cutter to cut the eyes out of the leftover white cheese. Use the 1/2 inch round piping tip or cookie cutter as a guide to press the shape for Keroppi's eyes into a folded piece of nori. Cut the eyes out as well as a v shape for the mouth. Add the eyes to the top of the noodles so that the cheese is overlapping the noodles and touching in the middle (you can use veggies behind the eyes, if needed, to hold them up). Add all of the nori cutouts. Use the same 1/2 inch cutter to cut 2 cheeks out of the radish, and add them to Keroppi, on either side of his mouth.
Dipping Sauce: This part is super simple! Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and sweeten, with the honey, to taste. Transfer to a small lidded container to pack with the noodles.
Badtz Maru: Wash and dry the blueberries. Use the other layer of your bento box to arrange the blueberries in an oval shape similar to the bottom of Hello Kitty's face (I cut some of the blueberries in half to fill in gaps). To create the spikes at the top, cut 4 blueberries in half and lay two halves next to each other, with one blueberry cut into a point on top for each of 4 spikes. Cut 2 U shaped pieces out of the pear and lay on top of the blueberries, adding another half a blueberry to each for the eyes (as long as the pear is in a sealed container it will stay white for a at least a day or 2). Cut a rounded triangle out of the mango for the beak. Place on top of the blueberries, just below and in between the eyes.
Finish your masterpiece by filling in the empty areas with your favorite fruits and veggies. Make sure to keep the bento box cold and well sealed until it's time for lunch.