Small and bright, the B-well Sushi and Cafe is an unassuming space, with a handful of small tables and a tight scattering of relaxed seating where sushi fans and coffee drinkers can take up half of the restaurant, and a takeout counter on the other.
We walk in and are given a friendly greeting from behind the counter. We grab a table, and the server drops off our menus and lets us know to head over to order at the counter when we've decided.
In the back of the cafe, in one of the plusher seats, someone is drinking a coffee and plunking away on their laptop keyboard, enjoying the coffee shop yin to the sushi restaurant yang that the B-well offers.
The menu is small, with a handful of standards and another handful of specialty rolls. My friend and I decide to go splitsies, ordering vegetable tempura ($6.50), samurai balls ($5.50), the super green dragon roll ($6.50), the yummy yam dragon roll ($7.50) and the chicken teriyaki roll ($7.50).
We amble over to the counter to order, take a couple of cans of pop ($1.25) from the fridge, grab a seat and get some ice-cold water from a communal jug. We get lost in chatter for a little while, until the server brings over our table setting and refills our water glasses for us. A few minutes later the tempura and samurai balls arrive.
The tempura is a mix of yellow pepper, asparagus, eggplant and sweet potato. The vegetables all pop with freshness, and the light crispy coating has all the junky appeal you want from tempura without being too greasy. It's delicious.
At first glance, and at first taste, we are totally taken by the samurai balls. They are golden brown, with a drizzle of sauces and sprinkles of fried bonito flakes and aonori. But by the end of the first ball, the love affair is over. If you pay close attention to the fine print---which I didn't---you might notice there is no octopus, even though the dish references takoyaki in brackets. The samurai balls are basically just plain, deep fried pancakes. I can't seem to identify any other tastes or textures, so I investigate.
After Nancy Drewing the situation by first tearing one of the balls apart and then enlisting our server, I solve The Mystery of the Menu Item I Could Have Just Read. The centre is mozzarella. Except not really. There was barely a trace of cheese in the ball I tore apart, and any melty, delicious mozzarella in the one I ate was lost in the mix, overwhelmed by doughiness and the mix of sweet sauce and mayonnaise on the plate.
We give up on the samurai balls, but aren't disappointed for long, since our maki is soon delivered to the table. It's beautifully presented, crisp spears of asparagus and lush lettuce leaves bursting through the soft greens of a forest of avocado.
The rolls are all expertly made bite-sized portions; none of those two-bite mega rolls that prove too heavy to deftly maneuver with chopsticks and too hard to eat delicately. The yummy yam dragon roll lives up to its name. The tender slices of yam are tucked into the roll with lots of crispy tempura. The avocado wrapped around the roll adds a delectable creaminess to the crunch of the tempura.
The chicken teriyaki roll is the most substantial, with lots of grilled chicken, lettuce and cucumber. The super green dragon is fresh and tastes of vivid springtime greens, with tender asparagus and bright cucumber wrapped in the avocado. Both are great.
We reach the end of our meal, with three of four rolls still sitting forlornly on the tray. We're both full. There's not even room for coffee. I'll save that for another time, because I'm definitely going back.