I Love Bento's
13520 100th Ave NE # 50
Kirkland WA 98034
Perhaps Not Loveable, But Likeable
By: Steve G
If you're in the mood for some quick Japanese teriyaki fast food, I Love Bento's is just the spot for you. Serving a variety of teriyaki and Korean dishes, the restaurant is part of the busy pack of food establishments in this small Kirkland strip mall.
As you walk into I Love Bento's, you'll notice that the restaurant is quite small. With only a handful of tables, seating is limited to perhaps twenty patrons. Surprisingly, the restaurant offers Wi-Fi, which we observed one patron using while sipping on a miso soup.
The menu has everything expected from a teriyaki restaurant: chicken teriyaki, tempura, katsu, and a variety of sushi rolls. Specials along the wall in neon orange and green signs also offer popular Korean dishes, such as bee bim bap and bulogi. Sushi is offered too, though it's menu placement almost makes it seem like an afterthought.
I ordered up the Chicken Katsu with a small side salad. The dish had a tough crispy texture, with tender meat on the inside. The panko breading was a little too tough for my tastes, but not so much that it was unpalatable.
One thing I disliked was that I Love Bento's poured katsu sauce unevenly on top of the dish. The end result was that some pieces were salty and tart, while other pieces were lacking and uneventful. Overall it wasn't the greatest chicken katsu by any stretch of the imagination, but satisfying enough.
Grant ordered the Chicken Teriyaki, which was covered in a thick, sweet glaze. He noted that each piece was adequately moist, with only a few dry pieces of chicken in the dish. Portion size was as expected for a teryiaki restaurant, which means more than adequate for the regular eater. Overall, Grant thought the teriyaki was passable as a local grab-and-go, though the miso soup was too salty for his taste.
In terms of service, I Love Bento's was fast, as it only took a few minutes before our dishes got to the table. The staff checked up on us a few times, though the need for service was minimal.
In conclusion, we weren't completely blown away by I Love Bento's, but we got enough portions to leave us waddling away after our meal. So, if you're not in the mood for tacos, pizzas or bar food, I Love Bento's is a safe bet for this small strip mall.
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