Cultural Cooking with Joanna


My name is Joanna and I’m currently a junior in college studying Visual Media and Marketing! I grew up moving around a bit, from some time being born in Brazil, to mostly being raised in Hong Kong, and moving between New York and back a few times. This exposure to different cultures really grew my passion for exploration, food, and connection with others. When I moved back to New York to finish high school and go to college, I realised I never really understood where I felt home was, until I left Hong Kong. And ever since that moment, I’ve been on a journey to truly connect with my roots and identity. Learning how to cook from my brother and sharing my journey on social media is one of the ways I’ve felt connected the most, where I get to learn and understand the history and stories behind different dishes, as well as share new memories with loved ones.


I aspire to find balance within myself as a whole and make a difference within the community around me. Far out into the future, I hope to start my own café. My journey of self identity altogether has led me to be so proud of who I am today and every experience that has brought me to this point. As much as I love sharing my story, I want to open a café where I can express my love for what home means to me through food and interior design. Alongside, I would love to use the space as a creative venue for small artists to share their own stories as well as support other small businesses.


  • What is a Bento Box / Lunch Box to you?

A bento box to me is a treasure box of love. It reminds me of the way my own mother would pack me lunches every day before she headed to work. With 3 kids, it wasn’t easy, but she still packed each one with love and care. Now that I’m older and cook for myself and others, I realise how much cooking is a labor of love. Each element within the bento box was carefully made and placed in order to come together in a fusion of flavors. As simple as bento boxes can be, they will always hold a multitude of love and memories no matter what.


  • What do you pack in your TAKENAKA Bento?

In my TAKENAKA Bento, as a college student, I pack whatever I feel like cooking that day! While other times it’s leftovers, sometimes it’s just a snack! One of my favorites so far is the bento with char siu inspired pork belly, egg, stir fried pea shoots, and rice. The flavors are extremely nostalgic and bring me right back to grilling pork chops with my best friends in Hong Kong during camp.


  • What is your favorite part of our boxes and what colors have you chosen?

My favorite part of the boxes are how simple and cute yet sustainable and durable they are. The color I’ve chosen is pale olive, one of my favorite shades of green!



Char Siu Inspired Pork Belly Recipe


1 lb pork belly

1 bunch of pea shoots (dou miao/豆苗)

1T garlic (minced)

~1t shaoxing wine

~1t fish sauce

1 egg

1 stalk scallion


rice (1 serving)


Pork Belly Marinade:

2T brown sugar

1/2T oyster sauce

2T soy sauce

1T hoisin

1T shaoxing wine

1/4t five spice powder

1T honey

1T water

1t salt

a drop of red food coloring

2T garlic (minced)


  1. Chop garlic and in a small bowl, mix all seasoning into marinade mixture.
  2. In a ziplock bag, or container, pour marinade onto pork belly and arrange so all parts are covered in marinade.
  3. Marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hrs or overnight.
  4. Air fry pork belly at 400 degrees for 7 minutes on each side. When it’s at the halfway point, brush leftover marinade over both sides.
  5. In a small pan over medium low heat, add oil and garlic. Cook til garlic is fragrant.
  6. Over medium high heat, add in pea shoots and then add shaoxing wine. Stir fry together.
  7. Add in fish sauce and stir fry til completely cooked.
  8. In a pan over medium heat, add oil and an egg til the whites are cooked.
  9. Assemble rice, pork belly, vegetables and egg into bento box.
  10. Garnish with scallions  

and enjoy!