Where? Bento Cafe (On Orange Ave.)
What? Dinner on a Saturday Night
(“Don’t look under the table. Don’t look under the table. Dontlookunderthetable.”)
If you have as hard a time as we do getting your nearby dining-mates to engage in a conversation about Space Dinosaurs versus Sentient Trash Cans from Venus, you’re always welcome to turn your attention to one of the three hi-def televisions peppered across the walls. (There’s even smaller TV’s mounted in the bathroom so you don’t miss any of the action in The Bachelor finale when you have to poop.)
[The Bachelor and poop in the same sentence …. can you tell we had a late night with a large bottle? We promise that this won’t get any better. -- Ed.]
Let’s talk about anomalous conundrums for a second. The Tuna Star Crunch dish (“special marinated tuna chunks on a bed of crunchy wonton chips, topped with masago, scallions, and creamy sweet chili sauce”) has a bold, red “NEW” label next to it on the menu, and yet it resides on Bento’s Specialties section. Can something ‘new’ really be a Specialty? In order to be a specialty, a dish would have to be around for awhile, preparation is well-practiced, and the dish is refined to perfection. (Think: “My specialty is Taco Bell drive-thru because I do it four times a day; twelve times on the weekend.”) On the other hand, if a specialty dish has to be a well-established culinary delight at the restaurant, how can there ever be something new added to the specialty menu?
While we waited for our dinner (and our dining-mates ignored a fresh hypothetical involving a busty lizard-woman pirate named Leptillian) we took in Bento’s ambiance and noted that the Saturday evening crowd averaged twenty to thirty years old with a variety of ethnicities on display. Clearly sushi does not discriminate.
Our dinner was a Bulgogi Noodle Bowl (ordered with chicken but served with beef), a Hot Lava sushi roll order (“escolar, tempura shrimp, avocado, masago, scallions, topped with a baked spicy scallop delite and black tobiko”), and a Flying Dragon sushi roll order (“tempura shrimp, krab, avocado, mayo, topped with broiled eel and masago, then drizzled with eel sauce”).
We can tell you that the Hot Lava is a Bento Café staple, although the scallops placed on top were a little rubbery on this particular visit. The Flying Dragon was a new culinary adventure -- one that we would ordinarily not attempt because, nine times out of ten, eel ends up tasting a little too furry for us. Fortunately, the Flying Dragon at Bento was devoid of fur and the eel sauce was just the right amount of sweet.
It’s fair to say that we have pretty low standards here at Orlando Insider, but the Flying Dragon was by far our favorite part of the meal.
The Bulgogi Noodle Bowl is served with either chicken or beef and we elected to sample the former, although we we received the latter. And then another waiter delivered the meal which led to a momentary lapse of insanity where we DIDN’T tear into the guy for bringing us the wrong food. Long story short, it wasn’t that big of a deal -- the backup waiter assured us the order was entered incorrectly -- and at the end of the day we like the cow meat just as much as the poultry products.
The noodles were good but seemed a little yeasty, which could have just been due to our on-again-off-again relationship with gluten. The beef had just the right amount of spice to make it zing while not making us feel like we were French-kissing a fire-breathing dragon.
If you visit Bento Café and they serve you beef instead of chicken in your Bulgogi Noodle Bowl, leave us a note -- we’ll start a club!