"Bento Café is perennially popular thanks to cheap and cheerful food "Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
Food trends come and go, and in a neighbourhood as lively as Camden it’s natural for restaurateurs to try making their mark with the latest cuisines. And so Camden High Street has places specialising in hotdogs and bourbon, Mexican food, Argentinian steaks and pulled pork, among others. Then there are the places that will be perennially popular no matter what’s in fashion, like Bento Café.
It’s loved by workers and locals for its affordable bento boxes and freshly made sushi. Usually priced between £10 and £13, bento boxes are just £7.90 at lunchtime, so unsurprisingly this is a very busy time – be prepared to wait, particularly on Fridays. All boxes come with a salad liberally doused in dressing, two pumpkin fritters, vegetable gyoza, a pot of steamed rice and miso soup; in the case of the salmon teriyaki it’s also generously coated in sauce. The very decent portion sizes make them great value.
Other bento options include tuna, vegetable tempura, pork tonkatsu and mixed sashimi, which brings us on to their raw fish selection. Sushi is hand-rolled in front of customers at the counter; the platters are good value and there’s a pleasing variety that includes cream cheese and salmon maki and clam, eel, yellowtail and sea bream nigiri among others. We like the spider maki with soft shell crab, and the fresh, creamy-tasting salmon sashimi, which at £8.50 for seven pieces is not to be sneered at.
They’re not immune to trends of course, and each table has an advert for their recently introduced lobster roll, a dish that took a starring role in London’s gastronomy this year. We don’t try it however as we’re more than happy with Bento’s cheap and cheerful dishes.
Leila reviewed Bento Cafe on Wed 17 Dec 2014