Category Archives: Kitchen Tools


Reader question: Clay nabe pots for IH flat top stoves

donabe-clay-pot-IHI received a question from a reader, John, about where to find clay nabe pots for flat top IH stoves. Sadly, his return email address didn’t work so I decided to post the answer here. I wrote a post three years ago when IH stoves were just becoming popular here. Now there are more available and more information to share.

What to look for on the box: IH対応土鍋 (IH taiou donabe)

An IH clay nabe pot will have a completely flat bottom, it won’t be rounded like the gas only ones. There may be a metal and/or ceramic insert that you need to use. The box will be clearly labelled as there were some accidents before people were aware that regular clay nabe pots were not okay to use.

You can even get this classic design that you have probably seen in

donabe-clay-potWhere to get them:



Bento boxes I covet and my actual bento boxes


I like the idea of funky bento boxes but I rarely buy them because they are not all that practical for me. Most bento boxes are based on the assumption that you will have rice in one compartment, not anything sloppy or juicy. I don’t eat a lot of starches but I do eat a lot of stews and they leak when I use normal bento boxes. Bento boxes aren’t that sandwich friendly either. I don’t eat a lot of sandwiches but when I want to make them I have nothing to put them in.

What’s important for me when choosing lunch containers:

  • shape – will it fit the types of foods I eat
  • size – not too big as to encourage overeating but not to small as to require extra containers
  • leakiness – I eat a lot of soupy things so leak proof is a must (both levels in case of a multi level container)
  • aesthetics –  I have yet to find something both functional and beautiful but I keep up hope. I always have and always will choose function over form.

What I covet

bento box

  1. Lego bento box – I don’t really need to explain why I covet it. It doesn’t look too leak proof so I will have to satisfy my lego love by picking up some lego chopsticks next time I go to the lego store. I just bought the fork and spoon set for the resident toddler. Image source.
  2. Wooden bento box – I love wood. I have a wood for and spoon set that I use at home all the time. I can see this getting stained by something tomatoey or leaking all over my bag. I would buy this if I drove to work everyday and could keep my bag flat at all times.
  3. Slim bento boxes – I had one. When I bought it I thought it would fit in my bag better than a wider box but discovered that it didn’t. These also have a leaking problem. The bottom level is for rice and the lid for that doesn’t stop leaks, even from things that aren’t saucy. If you only use the bottom for really dry things you will be fine.
  4. Donburi bento box – I love the shape and the non-pink ones look cool. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t eat a lot of starches so there is nothing that will absorb excess juice from stews. I have a feeling these babies will leak.

What I actually use is pretty boring but effective. All links are for Amazon Japan.

my bento boxes

  1. Larger bento box with rubber around the inside edge – (top left) this one is for meal salads. Sometimes I put smaller containers, sans lids, inside so I can take things like humus and chickpea salad without mixing.
  2. Bento boxes with rubber around the inside edge – (top right) this is the one I have for non-salad meals. It is perfect for stews, pastas and curries. I would choose the black version if you eat a lot of tomato sauces as it could get stained over time. Mine hasn’t but I don’t make tomato sauce that often.
  3. Ziplock screw lock containers – these have never leaked on me, even with soup. I have all three sizes. The large ones are great for salads, you can layer the ingredients with the dressing and the hard veggies on the bottom and the leafy stuff on top. Then you just shake it up at lunch to get everything coated. No extra containers and no soggy lettuce. I use the middle size one the most.

What do you use for your lunches? If you have any product recommendations please leave them in the comments below.


Clay nabe pots for flat top IH stoves

 Photo credit

I like my IH flat top stove but was really disappointed last year when I couldn’t use my donabe (clay pot for hotpot). Really. Disappointed. I didn’t look to see if they made special clay pots for IH stoves last year so I couldn’t tell you how long they have been available. I bought a cheapie at Nitori this year and am in love. Some of the differences are: the bottom is completely flat and it comes with two plates that must be used in the bottom.

I have been using it for everything that doesn’t require frying or is gloopy. I would make oatmeal or barley in it but I cringe at the thought of cleaning oatmeal out of the holes in the plate. I bought the 1-2 person size and wish I had gotten a size bigger (they were out of that size) because the plates take up valuable real estate.  The boxes are clearly marked as using a regular clay pot can have disastrous results on a flat top stove. New flat tops have sensors to avoid problems – mine won’t even turn on unless it senses the right kind of pot. Look for IH対応土鍋 (IH たいおうどなべ IH taiou donabe) on the box. Many non IH-friendly donabe boxes will have IH with an x over it.


I’ve finally entered the world of tajines.  About six months ago, there were tajine recipes on food blogs everywhere.  I held out because I only buy dishes that I really like and most of the tajines sold in Japan were brightly colored or had ugly flower patterns on them.  I like very simple patters (even better none at all) and was delighted to find this one two days ago.

IMG_0302It was made by a company called Suzuki K.K.. It looks like they also make regular nabes.  I may have to check out more of their products.  They have recipes on their website for nabes and tajines (all in Japanese) with great pictures.

Recipes and photos to come!

New Kitchen Toy

A great ice tea container
A great ice tea container

Generally when someone says they have a new kitchen toy it is something exotic or electric.  Mine is a little more simple.  I bought this water jug/ice tea maker on a whim and I am very happy with it.  It has a basket for teabags and can go on it’s side in the fridge.  What more could you ask?  It is about 1000yen from Muji.