Monday, 1 June 2009

Bento Cafe 2

Another trip to the flicks, another attempt to snag a table at Bento Café in Camden. This time we booked to avoid disappointment, but after arriving bang on time we still had to wait for a good 15 minutes. I think we needn’t have booked at all really.

Anyway, the sushi here is exceptional but I decided to be adventurous and try a main course that I wouldn’t usually order. I had the hotate mentaiko (grilled scallops in a fish roe sauce).

These came served in the shells, grilled with seafood sticks. The appearance of seafood sticks (or crabsticks as they were known to me as a girl when I got them ‘fresh’ from the seafood van at the food market in my hometown every Saturday) in restaurants always delights but puzzles me somewhat. I feel guilty for liking these but here in a Japanese restaurant they serve them unabashed alongside fresh salmon, tuna, mackerel, octopus etc. I’m all for it actually.

To accompany my scallops I had a green salad which arrived first with a portion of edamame.

I loved the scallops but they were pretty rich, the roe sauce had crisped nicely on the top under the grill and the couple at a neighbouring table had serious food envy asking what it was I’d ordered. I was very pleased with this dish, the scallops were perfectly cooked and it looked impressive. The salad had a great mix of leaves, seaweed, sesame seeds and carrots and was well dressed with both sweet and tangy notes to it. I was pleased to be served a spoon with which to eat the scallops having sustained an injury to my right hand on the previous evening, chopsticks were proving a little tricksy and I was saved the embarrassment of asking for cutlery.

Thomas chose the grilled spicy beef for main with some egg fried rice and we shared some of the kinoko yaki (baked mushrooms in foil) that we always order here, the buttery sauce is delicious.

Thomas’ beef tasted good, it had a nice char, there was plenty of sliced red chilli (always a good thing) and the bbq sauce gave it a nice flavour but it was perhaps a bit too chewy.

On the way in I cast my beady eye over the table near the entrance before we were led to the back and I saw a bowl of ice cream. We have never sampled dessert here so I asked what flavours they have and we went for one each of the green tea and sesame. These are the only favours they offer.

They’re very interesting. The green tea one has a deep and changeable flavour. By that I mean at first it’s bitter, then creamy and then aromatic before returning to bitter. The sesame had a different texture, more like a paste and didn’t melt like ice cream usually does. It had an earthy flavour, I liked this one best and I like the way that in your head you imagine there will be a sweet element coming through but it never comes. This didn’t leave me disappointed and I’m glad to have tried them.

Again I was pleased with my meal here, the only downside being the wait and the fact that we ordered a salmon sashimi and they forgot it, when they remembered we were half way through the other dishes and didn’t want it anymore. Best to come here when it’s less busy, i.e. not on a Saturday night at 8pm but I love the sushi and a movie combination and their dishes are consistently good hence, I think them worthy of a second post.

Bento Café
9 Parkway, Camden NW1

Bento Cafe on Urbanspoon


Kavey said...

Camden is so handy for me, so will keep this recommendation in mind!

Boo said...

Hi Kavey, you should definitely give it a try, the food is consistently good, just as long as you don't mind the sometimes dismissive service!