On a dreary, rainy day, I dragged my soggy self to Bene Sushi, a large Japanese restaurant in the heart of West Vancouver with a seating capacity of around 100 people. A clean, elegant ambience greeted me upon my entrance and I was seated approximately right in the center of the restaurant. Sometimes, you don't notice where the sushi bar is due to the enormity of the restaurant. I arrived just in time for the lunch specials before they ended, and I would highly recommend them due to the significant cost savings.
I got the Lunch Plate D, which allowed me to order a salad, gyoza, the Bene Roll (half order), the Las Vegas Roll (half order), the Chicken Teriyaki (half order) and 4 pieces of sashimi. I was apparently starving, and felt the urge to order some nigiri in addition to the Lunch Plate D to top up my meal. The restaurant was mostly empty because I came at just after 2 p.m., so the food came out in a timely manner, with the salad arriving in under 10 minutes.
Salad - A
Considering that this salad was part of a lunch combo, the salad was very large. In addition to the arugula leaves and laces of radish, there was also crab meat included in the salad. The crab meat went very well with the Japanese salad dressing, a cool, refreshing vinaigrette with an apple-like flavour. I liked how there was just the right amount of dressing to add flavour to the whole bowl of salad.
Salmon Sashimi - B-
Tuna Sashimi - A+
The Salmon Sashimi was rather soft and fatty and had little to offer in terms of flavour. However, the Tuna Sashimi was excellent and tasted very fresh while being not too salty. It held together well and had that desirable melty texture. It couldn't really get any better. Unfortunately, the pieces of sashimi were on the smaller side.
Chicken Teriyaki - A
The half order of Chicken Teriyaki came with an adorable ice-cream scoop-sized ball of rice. The chicken was tender and tasted like it was fresh out of the barbecue grill. The aroma was strikingly similar to that of Miku's signature Aburi sushi. Overall, it was a delight to taste and smell.
Gyoza - A-
On the other side of the plate sat three neatly aligned gyoza. They had a slightly crispy exterior with a soft interior made with finely ground pork, lettuce, carrot and vermicelli. The vermicelli gave the gyoza a bit of a unique edge. The gyoza had a mild taste overall but by no means bland, and for more of a zing, a dipping sauce was provided (right above the rice).
Bene Roll - B
Las Vegas Roll - A-
The Bene roll (half order) consisted of prawn tempura, crab meat and spicy braised tuna. I found the spicy sauce to be a little too sweet and intrusive. I liked the soft, flaky crab meat, but the prawn tempura could be more prominent. The neat presentation was a plus.
The Las Vegas Roll (half order) consisted of cream cheese, avocado, crab meat, assorted fish and special sauce. The cream cheese was very soft and blended together perfectly with the other ingredients. The crab meat was enhanced by a sweet, cheesy sauce and the light, crispy layer on the exterior was well integrated with the rest of the roll.
Unagi Nigiri - A-
Seared Toro Nigiri - A-
Seared Salmon Nigiri - B
Since the Chicken Teriyaki was quite well-executed, I decided to test out their ability to successfully deliver seared nigiri. The Unagi Nigiri was freshly grilled and had a warm, savoury taste. The Seared Toro Nigiri had a soft, juicy layer underneath the thin, cooked layer on top. Adding a little dressing would enhance the taste of the toro further. The Seared Salmon, had a nice, marbly texture on the bottom and like the Salmon Sashimi, it desperately needed more flavour.
The service was attentive and well-mannered throughout the course of my meal. Most of the food was very well-prepared and worth the price premium. They just needed tastier salmon and a little more experimentation with some of the sauces on the special rolls. Sometimes, I wonder if they ever manage to fill up all those tables.