Bento Café – Gainesville

Udon noodles may be the ultimate comfort food.  On a rainy day, these thick warm noodles are absolute heaven.  As far as we’re concerned when it comes to an udon dish it’s all about the noodles; which was a useful attitude during our recent visit to the ever hip and popular Bento Café.  We ordered the Red Curry Beef Bowl, described as “a very spicy Malaysian curry dish”, which we found surprisingly mild.  The beef was tender and the vegetables were crunchy but there just wasn’t any heat. But who cares, the noodles were terrific.

We also sampled the Szechuan Tofu Bento Box.  The tofu in this dish was extremely silky and went well with the mild garlic and ginger flavors of the Szechuan sauce.  The dish’s noodles were firm and the beans were crisp but the rice was a bit dry and the ginger dressing lacked substantial ginger.  While the bento box offered a good quantity and variety of food, we think that next time we’ll go with a more singularly focused dish like a rice bowl or noodle soup.

For an informal, order at the counter café, Bento has a surprisingly extensive sushi selection offering a few dozen rolls, a variety of sashimi bowls and everyone’s favorite nigiri choices.  We weren’t planning on having sushi that day but curiosity got the best of us and we ordered a little salmon and yellowtail nigiri.  The cuts were generous and while the texture of the salmon was unimpressively soft, the yellowtail were firmer, seemingly fresher pieces.

When we head back for more udon, which can’t be soon enough, we’ll have to give a couple of their rolls a try.  We’re open to suggestions….

Udon (with Red Curry Beef)   $6.95                        Szechuan Tofu Bento Box    $7.50

Salmon Nigiri (2 pieces) $3.50                    Yellowtail Nigiri (2)   $3.50

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