By Sarah Skordas
The buzzer sounded on February 9, just as it did any other day during the week: a shrill exclamation to every student at Arundel High School that they could finally go home. Or in my case, go to Bento’s Hibachi and Sushi Express.
It was all planned out. Friday would come, pass slowly as Fridays always do, and then we, being myself and two friends, would pile into a car and drive the short 3.9 miles to the small Japanese restaurant that resides across Route 3, opposite The Village at Waugh Chapel. We walked in, armed with puffy winter jackets and backpacks slightly worn out from the previous semester, and got straight to ordering. Topped off with our food being delivered to us within 10 minutes, Bento’s, at the very least, knew how to do one thing: be a “Sushi Express.”
It’s not much, from the looks of it. A stereotypical neon “open” sign glows in the window, and the amount of seating is fairly sparse but diverse: a combination of square tables, bunched together to seat four people, and long bar seats pushed against the windows in both the storefront and along the side, looking out onto the parking lot. A lone lantern displaying, presumably, Japanese characters (which i spent a solid 30 minutes trying to decipher that night) hangs above the cashier, and towards the back stands the hibachi grill where your food is cooked to order.
In a restaurant full of neutral hues, wooden chairs and tables, and metallic countertops, I found the most noticeable thing to be the trash can. It became a lone blue elephant, sitting in the corner between two of those oblong high-top tables, with the words “Thank You” etched in a fading red font on the front. A few trays in a brighter, more obnoxious hue, rested on its surface.
Now, I’m just gonna go out there and say it. If you are like the majority of the teenage population, you probably don’t care about the lattice design hanging from the ceiling (one which I neglected to mention previously), or find anything remarkable about an outdated blue trash can, or any container we use to dispose of our garbage. When you think restaurant, you think food. And for three teens, who were looking to get their cheap sushi fix and cram so they could pass a pre-calc test, the food, and the cheapness of it, didn’t disappoint.
Out of all the reasonably priced sushi options, we chose two: the simple salmon and avocado roll, and the slightly more adventurous Maryland roll, chosen simply because Maryland is the state in which we all live. The Maryland roll was composed of crab (naturally), avocado, and cream cheese, wrapped in rice and deep-fried tempura, served to you on a styrofoam dish with sides of ginger and wasabi then topped with two sauces, both of which remain nameless. Out of the two rolls, the Maryland roll was preferred for it’s texture and flavor, however, the nameless sauces drizzled over the roll overpowered its contents. The salmon and avocado roll was, like I said, simple. No sauces were added, or needed; it was just fresh sushi.
For those who aren’t into the raw consumption of seafood, Bento’s also offers plenty of food that is cooked, their staple being bento boxes. Within each black plastic container, you get a Bento’s version of a California roll (four pieces), filled with krab meat (that is not entirely real crab) and a slice of avocado, three fried dumplings (filled with beef), a salad featuring shredded carrots and lettuce that looked to be slightly limp, and your choice of beef, chicken, or fish over fried rice or noodles, all for the average price of $8.75.
While the dumplings were mediocre, the roll remained unfinished, and the salad was left untouched, the beef and fried rice we ordered were both decent enough that I wouldn’t hesitate to order the bento box during a second visit—which, knowing how frequently we all have pre-calc homework, will probably be sometime soon.
More information about Bento’s:
- Address: 891 MD-3, Gambrills, MD 21054
- 3.9 mile, 7 minute drive from Arundel High School
- Hours: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Number: (443) 584-4942