Matthew Lickona 10:30 a.m., March 29
Bento and sandwich shop in Old Town is a just plain excellent idea
Oh, man, this is a great idea. Like, a really great idea. Bento and sandwiches living together as one. Two of the world’s great foods of convenience under one roof. It’s Bentowich and the only thing bad about it is the name.
Well, OK, it also turned out poorly set up for dine-in guests. The few tables were rickety and it was cold in there. But other than that the place was a stroke of brilliance, just one designed for take-out diners who manage to park successfully in Old Town.
Ordering was easy. Pick a protein and decide whether to have it as a bento box, sandwich, salad, or noodle dish. Everything was priced under $10 and the selections mostly looked healthy: grilled mahi, shaved tenderloin, BBQ pork. I grabbed the least healthy option (coconut panko mahi) and even that was health food compared to what I’ve been eating lately.
The bento had onigiri (rice balls), a few slices of fish, sauteed vegetables, “asian” (i.e. spicy and laced with sesame) cole slaw, a side salad with ginger dressing, and some plum sauce for the fish. The best part was that it was properly done. The vegetables were lovely and the fish hadn’t been overdone. The plum sauce tasted like, well, real plums and not artifice. The food was actually good. Plus, if I’d wanted to, I could have had the same thing as a sandwich!
If I lived or worked down near Bentowich, I could see myself getting a lot of lunches there. I’d just get it to go because, hey, that’s what bento is for anyways. I also want to drink more “Ramuné” soda. Despite its puzzling instructions for opening, the sparkling plum drink was just too weird to ignore.
2367 San Diego Avenue