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Chef Bento

Mobile App & Product Design for Authentic Asian Cuisine


Project Type

Design Fiction


Designer - Siyu Zhao


Oct 2018 - Feb 2019(4 months)


Adobe Creative Suites, Rhino


Product Design

​Physical Prototype

UX Design

Competitive Analysis

01 Concept Background

01.1 The Challenge

As an Asian foreigner in western society, it is never easy to find authentic food from hometowns

Of course, we do have the option of cooking by ourselves. However, for most of the oriental cuisine, hours of cooking time already sounds intimidating, let alone the fact that not everyone acquires the skill to deliver the exact taste of their hometown.

01.2 The Solution

Chef Bento.jpg

Chef Bento is an Asian ingredient-and-recipe meal kit service that provides fast and fresh convenient and authentic oriental meal kit for Asian internationals who lives in western society. It also provides our potential users with a carefree cooking experience regardless of their cooking skills.

01.3 Design Process







Design Process_1.png
Design Process_1.png
Design Process_1.png









& Production


With the help of preliminary Research, we are able to identify the problem and come up with ideas for designing both an e-commerce mobile application and a meal-prep kit service.


After my first iteration, usability research is conducted to optimize the online purchasing process.

Research & Ideation

02 - 03 Research & Ideation

02 Preliminary Research

To understand people's cooking habits, we conduct a series of research analyzing people's cooking patterns and grocery patterns.

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Contextual Inquiry

We interviewed our target users and ask them their cooking habits while they are preparing their meals and observed how they do the cooking.

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Survey & Interview

We conducted an in-depth survey & interview aiming to unraveled different cooking patterns of different users and different scenarios. 

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Literature Review

For the literature review, we are trying to find how to preserve food while keeping it fresh. And learning from our potential competitors.

03 Analysis & Ideation

According to our preliminary research, we are mapping the current user journey regarding the scenario when a user from the target group wanted to have authentic native food.

Current User Journey

The mapping shows that they will encounter multiple problems leading to a certain level of difficulties.

Solution to User Journey

E-Commerce Platform

E-commerce Platform is a go-to solution where the geographic gap is eliminated by international logistics and sales.​ By creating an e-commerce platform, we could connect our target group with authentic food without waiting in line outside of a crowded exotic restaurant.

Smart Cooking Experience

Smart cooking experience means a friendly cooking process for people with different culinary skill sets. By integrating single/double served pre-processed materials and multimedia cooking instructions in the meal-prep kit, we could make the cooking experience far more efficient and enjoyable.

03.2 Optimized User Journey

Optimized User Flow

With a mobile app scope(e-commerce platform) and a product scope (smart cooking meal prep kit), everyone is able to cook delicious meals without a decent amount of cooking training or awful experience waiting in line outside of a restaurant.


04 Production

04.1 Personalized Your Shopping Experience

“Quick Buy” Option

Quick Buy is a subscription service that allows busy users to book personalized one-week meal plan within a few clicks.

1. Quick Buy.gif

04.2 Understand User‘s Habit Increasingly

According to our usability test, it is important to show information properly in different scenarios. Chef Bento is designed to help shorten the decision-making process in the user's specific situations.

Track Your Food Consumption

The recipe menu will always display the product that is about to expire on the top of the recipe page in order to prevent any sort of waste.


Once the QR code on the meal prep kit is scanned, it will be listed under the previously consumed category. Such shifts could also be done manually in case the user didn't use the smart cooking function.

2. Track Food Consumption.jpg
3. Customized Selection.png
4. Customized Selection.png

Customized Selection

Items on the home page and "QuickBuy" page will be customized according to the user's purchase history. Making his/her shopping experience much easier by reducing his/her time of searching for the desired item.

04.2 Understand User‘s Habit Increasingly

According to our usability test, it is important to show information properly in different scenarios. Chef Bento is designed to help shorten the decision-making process in the user's specific situations.

Critical information on the Quick Buy Page allows busy users to make quick decisions without being exposed to too much information.

5. Efficient Way to Show Crucial Informa
5. Efficient Way to Show Crucial Informa

Information on the top of the Product Page helps customers with different needs avoid reading irrelevant information before they saw the "deal-breaker".(Allergy, Long cooking time, etc)

Information on the Recipe Page is based on the user's shopping history. It helps the user make sure he/she didn't waste any food because it expires when he/she is buying in bulk

5. Efficient Way to Show Crucial Informa

04.2 Product Scope

Chef Bento provides a meal prep kit with all cooking materials freshly pre-processed and safely sealed in the bag. It eliminates complicate and time-consuming steps during cooking.

1.Product Overview.jpg

Chef Bento Meal prep Kit

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For Beginners: Interactive Instructor

Chef Bento integrates an inclusive approach, by implementing a smart sound interaction into the cooking experience.


Users can simply use voice command to navigate through pages. To make things even easier, your phone could read every instruction to you. Meanwhile, the embedded timer in the cooking process also helps beginner cooks to prepare meals like a pro. 

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For Beginners: Voice Interactive Design

Other than vacuum-sealed food, the meal prep kit also includes a menu card and a complimentary phone-stand made of cardboard. 


It allows an intuitive voice interaction with the smartphone during the cooking process where the customer could quickly referencing different steps of cooking and check details about each step hands-free.


4.Horizontal Interaction.jpg
5.Vertical Interaction.jpg

Vertical/horizontal layout on the front/back page for different kitchen table real estate 

To further explain our inclusive approach, by scanning the QR code on your menu card and placing it with your smartphone accordingly with the cellphone-stand, your phone together with the menu becomes a highly interactive cooking instructor who will choreograph your cooking process, just like cooking with your parents, they care enough to take control of everything, you just need to follow their flow and the bite of your hometown is done.

04.3 UI Board


04.4 Prototype


05 Appendix

Design Guide, Usability Test, Competitive Analysis & Reflection

05.1 Design Guide

Design Guide.jpg

05.2 Usability Test

Usability Test Icon.jpg

Before we iterate this design to our current version, we run an agile usability test for the previous version. According to our test result, we made a few changes in our UI and added a few functions which not only make the design more friendly but spark more idea.



To see the full report, please visit:

05.3 Competitive Analysis

We select 5 similar services for us to compare and study them in terms of service and experience. Blue Apron and Hello Fresh are the first two in the meal kit industry. Home Chef and Sun Basket is more organic. Trifecta technically is not a meal kit service, since the meal is only a small portion of its fitness program. However, we include it to add diversity to our study. Here are the Results.

Service Comparison

Competitive Analysis-1

Product Comparison

Information Clarity: 
It is evaluated based on the readability of important information on their web/mobile interface. Information includes pricing, dietary sensitivity, nutrient fact, cooking time, and numbers of people for serving per package.

Pricing simply represents the minimum price a customer should pay to get one served meal. 

Dietary Sensitivity: 
It strikes a wider arrange of concerns compares to its clinical definition. Here it means if the meal plan provides options dedicated to people with different diet habit (allergy, vegetarian, even flavor preference)

Competitive Analysis-2


Through Comparison, we could draw the assumption that pricing and dietary sensitivity could be affective variables that have a considerable impact on the market scale of the business. Combining this with our Persona study, in order to achieve better service, it is necessary to provide a healthy and affordable meal kit with reasonable nutrient facts for customers to make an informed decision.

05.4 Reflection

Elaborate Usability Test

During the usability test, we use a lot of open-ended questions, which lead us to a dilemma to come to statistic conclusions. Obviously, the sample group I have is not large enough to provide affect evidence for suggestions. 

For my next project, if more time could be spent on the usability test, I would conduct a pre-run qualitative test with open-ended questions with small numbers of people and gathers information for composing a quantitative test script with more choice-based questions. Therefore, the statistic conclusion in the second usability test could be more useful in terms of helping me make more informed decisions in the following iteration.

Implement Social Interactions

Although it sounds cliche, social interaction should be a part of our product. Introducing social interaction in the purchasing process could bring potential customers to the subscription cycle. Customers could take turns to cook 2-4 person's meals and cultivate friendships with their colleagues.


Recipe by Request

To maintain attraction to existing customers, a public voting pool will be developed in order to explore a new recipe on a monthly basis. Such a gesture could not only add more diversity to the collection but also generate a topic on the social network.

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