Hidden talents

TUCKED away on Chelmsford Road in Mt Lawley, TME Bento & Rolls is a blink and you’ll miss it kind of place.

A tiny joint with an open kitchen, minimalist tables and chairs, and incongruous fake grass covering one wall.

The grass wall reminded me of the end of Interstellar, when gravity is warped, but it actually helped soften the interior and worked in a strange sort of way.

On a very hot day, TME deserved brownie points for having top notch air con.

I’ve been in lots of small eateries that don’t and it feels like you’re wearing a bin liner in the Philippines.

As one of Michael Buble’s anodyne ballads played in the background, I perused the menu, which had a decent range of don, bento, sides, sushi rolls and a tiny selection of sashimi and nigiri.

The menu was a nice manageable size and had all the old favourites like karaage, teriyaki, katsu and Japanese curry. Perfect for lunch or a quick dinner before you hit the nightspots in Mt Lawley. I went for the wagyu don (one of my favourites $19).

As I waited for my meal, a few people began to trickle in for lunch on a Tuesday.

There was a sign on the door “Staff Wanted” and I could see why as no one was manning the till, so customers had a brief wait as staff darted between the kitchen and front of house.

It didn’t help you couldn’t go directly from the kitchen to the till.

Anyway, it wasn’t long before I was tucking into my large bowl of rice, piled high with wagyu beef.

The broth was subtle and added a pleasant vinegary tinge to the thinly sliced meat, which wasn’t the highest quality I’ve tasted, but still very decent and there was lots of it.

Complementing the beef was a mound of peppery lettuce and a garnish of spring onions.

The rice was lovely and soft, and overall it was a very filling and well executed, if not spectacular, don.  

I took some sushi home for dinner and it was a roaring success.

Warning: the sushi wheels at TME Bento are bigger than the wheels on a mine truck, so don’t go overboard.

My Californian roll ($8 for four) was a delight with the shredded crab bursting with sweetness and flavour.

So many times I’ve had Californian roll with the tasteless detritus of “crab”, but these were delicious with the accompanying avocado fresh and tasty.

My kids enjoyed their cooked tuna and cucumber ($13 for eight).

The eatery had a display cabinet with some already prepared, but the staff said they would make some fresh for me, so that was a nice touch. 

Rounding things off was a nice medley of chicken katsu ($11 for four) and teriyaki sushi ($9 for four).

The katsu had a nice spicy mayo drizzled on top, which kept my tastebuds zinging.

The teriyaki chicken was nice, if not quite hitting the same heights as the rest of the sushi.

Top marks for the sushi and I’ve heard the bento is really good, so I’ll be revisiting to try some of the other dishes with the family.

TME Bento & Rolls
1/595 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley
6269 1705

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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