Review: Bento Café’s Bento Box
Bento Café is a new quick service sushi restaurant located in the St. Johns Town Center which opened in mid-October. In my opinion, it is superior to most of the restaurants in the Town Center because you can actually park in front of it. We’d all love to eat at Maggiano’s or Mitchell’s every day, but parking and walking then waiting for service at those places just doesn’t fit into the schedules of people working nearby the Town Center. The parking situation is very helpful if you’re on a schedule and need to return to work or school within a certain time frame.
I visited on a Saturday evening around 6 p.m. Basically, you order your food at a counter, then sit at a table with a number and wait to pick it up. This area is not separate from the diners who choose to stay and eat in the restaurant. So, this is not a quiet, intimate sushi place. That may change later in the evening, but I can only imagine what it must be like during lunchtime on a weekday. Bento would greatly benefit from a separate waiting area for take-out orders.
I ordered the bento box (after all, the place IS called “Bento”). The box is $8.95 ($7.95 on weekdays during lunch hours). It offers a choice of three rolls, one California and two of your choice. Bento’s definition of a “roll” is four pieces, so plan on half of a standard roll. Most of the pieces are not especially large, either.
In addition to the 12 total pieces, you’ll also receive chopsticks, wasabi, ginger, soy sauce, seaweed salad and cucumber salad. The salads were nothing special, but the presentation was very nice. I did have to wonder about the tons of extra plastic such an ingenious device must require. I’d like to see a paper or “bring your own container” option.
In addition to the California roll, I chose the Rainbow Roll (a California roll topped with various fish) and the Florida roll (tuna, salmon, cream cheese, avocado, scallions and masago).
The sushi was pretty standard. It could easily have been from one of the many sushi buffets in town. I was disturbed that it seemed to be at room temperature, even though I had picked it up, taken it to my car and immediately eaten it. All of the components seemed to be still fresh, but no part of this meal had seen a refrigerator recently.
That said, if you live, work or shop at the Town Center, the take-away bento box is among the best offerings when it comes to quick service restaurants. It is a light meal for $8.95 (or $7.95), but it is a vastly better choice than the Panda Express in the same complex.
Bento Café is a very good alternative to the other fast food places in the Town Center complex. The service is fast, the selection is extensive and the price is reasonable. This can truly be called the first fast food sushi restaurant in Jacksonville. If diners order this take-away bento box with fast food in mind, they will not be disappointed.
I’ll be checking out Bento’s other menu selections more extensively in the future, but for now I can recommend the bento box for a quick, unique lunch selection.
Bento Café is located in the St. Johns Town Center complex between Ulta and Best Buy at 4873 Town Center Parkway in Jacksonville.