Sunday, May 13, 2007

Ottawa: Sala Thai & Chef Bento

Salina was asking us for some asian food reviews and since it had been a while, we went and roamed the local joints.

From time to time, we have dinner or lunch at Sala Thai, which serves, not surprisingly, Thai food. The Tom Yum soups (left) are always very good and all the other dishes are pretty much authentic fares.

Now, a word of caution; we went late on a week night, about an hour before the restaurant closed and it seemed that all hell broke lose; my Pad Thai (right) was way too sweet, and service was rushed to borderline rude.
If that had been our first time there, we would probably not return. However, having been there a few times, I know that the dishes are usually all prepared with care, with the service to match.

Overall, I think that Sweet Basil, another Thai restaurant just a few blocks down on Bank street, has an edge over Sala Thai when I compare the tastes of both restaurants' dishes to those we tried in Phuket a few years back.
Nevertheless, with its very affordable dishes and somewhat exotic decor, Sala Thai is a worthy selection for a business lunch or a quick bite with friends before a movie.

Sala Thai Cuisine
2666 Alta Vista Drive (Bank and Alta-Vista)
ON K1V 7T4

We had heard raving reviews of Chef Bento, which is about a 15 minutes walk from our place and therefore decided to try it out. Now, be aware that they close relatively early at 8pm every day (closed on Sunday).

The inside really does not look like much; a few crappy tables and chairs, nasty looking ceramic floors and campy decor. Warm welcome from the chef and waitress gave us a good feeling about the place.

Now, this is your typical sushi place menu; sushi this way, sushi that way. If you are a fan, you know how it goes and Chef Bento is no different nor does it offer any especially exotic variation. No, the real question for sushi is; is the fish fresh and the rice good?
Besides for the usual miso soup and green tea, we had the 25 pieces box (forgot what it was called exactly) with an extra tuna sashimi for myself.

Now, I am in no way a connoisseur or a fan of sushi; I find it a bit bland. However, I know fresh fish when I taste it. Chef Bento's is good, but nothing exceptional. My wife concurred. My tuna was good, but the best sushi places will have exceptional fish. May suggested that Suisha Gardens (in downtown Ottawa) has superior fish. The rice was also a bit pasty; sure, it is supposed to be sticky, but Bento's seemed a tad old. We figured that Bento might not have as much volume as the other sushi locations, which would explain the slightly less fresh ingredients. Ah, but we're being picky. Feeding 3 person on what is still good sushi for $46 (tax and tips included) is what I would consider a great deal. So, one thumb up for Chef Bento, if you are in the neighbourhood!

Chef Bento
800 Hunt Club Road (corner of Uplands)

(613) 852-0021

P.S. Most excellent seaweed salad by the way.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for listening. Much appreciated. Next time will you be able to check out New Great Wall Chinese Restaurant (try their lobster congee special), Genji Japanese Restaurant (review on their set dinner), Nokham Thai Restaurant? I would like to see your review. Thanks.

JC said...

Thanks for the recomendations, next time we go to Chinatown, we'll check out New Great Wall. We usually go to Shu-Ching (I'll hopefully have an entry on this when I have a minute).