It's funny how we end up missing restaurants that are right under out noses. Case in point, I've been in the area for 5 years and have never tried anything in the Fair Market complex on Broadway in Burnaby. I frankly don't even know what exists there. It never fails, we end up going far away to eat since the closest restaurants are always there for us. However, we end up taking them for granted and never actually end up visiting them. Originally, after the kiddie's music lesson, we were gonna check out Kilala Sushi; but it's an actual sushi bar, so nothing for them to eat. Thus, our backup plan was to check out Bentei Sushi in the Fair Market complex. If there was ever an example of an throwback strip mall, this would be it. Nothing modern about this place. It's like they took a memory from my childhood and recreated it here. From the ol' skool storefronts to the "Safeway, Woodward's Food Floor of the 70's" Fair Market, you can feel right at home with your Camaro or Mustang complete with 8-track.
The ol' skool them doesn't end there. One glance at the decor inside Bentei reveals linoleum floors and 80's conference chairs. No, there is very little in the way of Japanese decor here other than some items on the wall and Noren curtains. We were greeted by a very nice gentleman who was a gracious host throughout our meal. We started with a plate of Nigiri consisting of 1 pc Toro, 1pc Chopped Scallop, 2 pcs Inari and 2 pcs Unagi. Alright, these were some of the biggest pieces of rice I have ever gotten with my nigiri ever, even more than some AYCE places (where they want to fill you up with rice!). And about that rice... Gosh, I really don't want to be mean (since the people here are so nice); but it wasn't very good being sticky and mushy. At the very least, the toppings were fresh and quite good.
We also got a plate of Tuna & Salmon Sashimi, which was quite fresh. One problem. Take a look at the tuna. Notice how it is in irregular sizes? I have to say this is a very poor attempt to slice sashimi. In fact, I'm not even sure I technically got 5 pcs of tuna since the bottom 2 pieces should really be one. Rounding out our portion of the meal was a Teriyaki Beef Bento with Yakisoba. Uh, the yakisoba looked and tasted more like Chinese chow mein than anything else. Hey, it was good chow mein, just not yakisoba. As for the Beef Teriyaki on rice, it was a bit dry and salty. However, with the addition of extra teriyaki sauce, the rice was actually quite good, if not now even extra saltier. For the kiddies, we got the "go-to" dish which is the Tempura Udon. As for the tempura, it was pretty good. The batter was fried crispy and not oily. Unlike quite a few places, the shrimp was not hard and overcooked. In fact, it was plump and juicy. I realize that udon is not really a "sexy" dish and there is not much to say about it; but this one was not bad. Some places cook the noodles too long and they become soft, not here. The broth was a bit one-dimensional though, tasting mostly of shoyu.
Once again, I'm in one of those dilemmas where I find it hard to be mean since the staff here are so honest and kind. However, I must report what I experienced and honestly, the food was on the bad side of average. Not to the point that I hated it; but not something that I would want to eat again. For those who live in the neighbourhood and do not have such high expectations for their Japanese food, Bentei is certainly inexpensive and still quite edible. It appears there are quite a few regulars who dine here, so I think that's the clientele it mainly serves.
- Honest and caring staff
- Pretty average food
- Not the prettiest of restaurants