Monday, January 18, 2010

Bento Sushi: Good ambiance, tasty bite

I like sushi. I heard about this place from a few other foodies and decided to check out the downtown location (they have another one in Dr. Phillips) with a few friends.

As usual, I did my homework online. I checked out the website and upon arrival, everything matched up- same prices, same selections. So far so good. However, what I didn't expect was ordering up at a counter and then having someone drop off your food to your designated table. The website doesn't really detail that this is a semi-cafeteria concept style restaurant. You order and you tip BEFORE you actually get seated (and I assume pray that the service is worth the amount you put on the receipt). For some reason this didn't jive in my mind- the ambiance was modern-artsy with high ceilings and chic thread chandeliers. Which juxtaposed with the idea that you're tipping someone you have not even met yet. Is this some form unconventional business practice?

On the up-side, the food was great. The menu selections were numerous and boasted cheap-priced meal combos. I tried a sushi combo box and every sushi piece was flavorful, balanced, and kept me wanting more. The plating presentation was cute- a multi-sectioned plate with the similar sushi grouped together and other accompaniments neatly separated. I also tried the Sunomono salad with ponzu sauce. The flavors on a crispy bed of greens were well-layered and the ponzu just made it pop- a very smart and delicious concoction. If I had to be critical, it would be that the octopus slices weren't very fresh. However for an $8 salad, it was quite good.

Finally, the price of the entire event is something worth mentioning. For 3 people the bill was under $50 after $10 tip (yes, I tipped that blindly) AND tax. Now that's a value.

IN A NUTSHELL- Expect food drop-offs with minimal service. Good food for a great value. I'm going back (this time to the Dr. Phillips location).
Bento Cafe on Urbanspoon

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