Bento Café Dr. Phillips
Bento Café is a Pan-Asian restaurant chain with five locations, two of which are in Orlando. I recently went to the Sand Lake location with a group of friends for a birthday celebration. I hadn’t been here before because it didn’t strike out to me as a place that I “must try”. Well, the birthday girl is raving about this place. It was busy for a Friday night. I liked the interior, the restaurant has a stylish modern look with red throughout.
The menu is easy to order from. You pick your entrée, the options are “bento box”, “noodle bowl”, or “rice bowl”. Then you select your protein and the style. Easy enough and very customizable but so many choices. Do I want to go more Chinese, Thai, or Japanese? I just kept looking over the menu, up and down. They also have a sushi menu that was priced reasonably. I ordered the Fried Cheese Wontons and the Basil Chicken Noodle Bowl. The Fried Cheese Wontons ($3.75) were really good. Not too heavy tasting as far as the cream cheese goes, and the sauce on the side was tasty. I definitely didn’t share these.
Next, I had the Basil Chicken Noodle Bowl ($7.75). It had chicken, noodles, basil, onions, carrots and a kung pao sauce. I was craving some extra veggies, so I added broccoli. If you order this, have them make it spicy. You’ll thank me for this. Great tasting flavor, fresh vegetables, it’s actually good. The noodle bowl is a good portion size. I tasted the Beef Bulgogi, it was decent too. (Although for me it wasn’t as flavorful as I’ve had in Korean restaurants.)
Bento Café has boba (which is a flavored drink with tapioca pearls). Lots of flavors to choose from. They also serve beer/wine and have drink specials. I had a bottle of Su Yuen Red Wine from Francis Ford Coppola Winery. It’s a Merlot/Syrah blend, so it was a sweet red wine but it went well with my meal.
Food-wise, I was surprised and enjoyed it. Great flavors, good portions. Service-wise, I do think they need some work. The servers did not handle a large group well. Some of people in the group showed up much much later and received their food before I did. Luckily, I wasn’t terribly hungry or else I would’ve gone into She-Hulk mode. One of my friends waited awhile for her seaweed salad. Seriously? It’s seaweed salad. I’d come back but with a smaller party.
All in all, it’s in a great location, lots to choose from and you’ll leave here full. If you’re just craving Asian food but can’t decide, Bento Café is a good go-to option.