Bento or Catering: Which is More Suitable for Your Company Event?

When it comes to ordering food for a large gathering of people, many of us immediately go to catering buffets as a go-to option. But despite their convenience, catering buffets are certainly not a catch-all that is suitable for all types of events. Besides a full set-up, bento sets are becoming an attractive option that helps consumers enjoy premium buffet fare in a convenient and well-portioned takeaway box.


So what are the pros and cons of both? And how can you tell which is right for you? We’ll break down how you should choose in this article.


What is a Catering Buffet?

Think of catering and you’ll typically think of full set-up buffets. You’ve probably seen these before at weddings, seminars, functions and more. They involve trays of food over warmers with accompanying cutlery, plates, table decorations and covers for a more sophisticated look. Guests help themselves to the food and pick the amount they’d like on their plate, and there may or may not be servers.

What is a Bento?

Bento sets individually packed takeaway boxes with a pre-portioned variety of food. Typically each guest gets a box and cutlery for themselves and can consume their food at their own convenience. Compared to buffets, bento boxes are more individualistic and less communal. The dishes are also fixed, although many places allow customisation so as to accommodate with dietary restrictions.

Questions to Ask When Deciding Between Bento and Catering

Whether you choose catering or bento largely depends on the type of company event you’re running. Here are some questions you can ask to help determine which option is best for you.

Is the event formal?

Catering with full set-up buffets suit formal events like a company function with stakeholders or a board meeting that require the food to have a certain level of presentation. Meanwhile, bento boxes suit a more laidback and casual event.

Does your event have a strict time schedule?

Full set-ups are ideal if all your attendees will be eating at the same time. That way nobody gets left out and latecomers don’t have to make do with sloppy seconds. However, if your guests will be eating or arriving at different times, then bento boxes are preferable for their convenience.

Is networking or mingling the focus of your event?

If the highlight of your event is having people talk, make acquaintances and generally get to know one another, then the communal nature of a buffet will greatly facilitate that. On the other hand, if your event is a workshop or a luncheon for busy office workers, then a bento box would give them the flexibility to have their lunch elsewhere in private before resuming.

Is it a large-scale or a small-scale event?

Generally speaking, set-up buffets are more suited for large scale events because they require less effort to manage and guests have the opportunity to serve themselves. It is also easier to accommodate the dietary preferences of many people when they can pick what they want to eat.

Bento boxes are ideal for small-scale events that do not have space for a full set-up or do not need large quantities of food.


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