Soma By Nature Swaps Name, Adds Bento Boxes & Japanese Baked Goods

Soma By Nature has been a standby for Korean food in the Financial District with sushi and a few other Japanese offerings pushed to the side. On Friday I noticed they have changed the name to BentOn Cafe (of which there is a location in Midtown), although the sign promoting the $6 Korean lunch specials remained outside. What has changed is a rack of grab and go bento boxes and Japanese sweets prominently featured near the Korean food station.

There were about five different bento boxes the day I was there, with a note saying they were meant to be enjoyed at room temperature. All of them were less than $10, but I happened to get the cheapest one ($7.75) featuring teriyaki mackerel, chicken meatballs, a fried potato cake, a bit of omelet studded with red pepper and hot dog, some ramen noodles, and sticky rice with bits of pickled green in it.

The fish and chicken meatballs were great and while they had some light seasoning were not coated with a sweet teriyaki glaze like I had feared. The potato cake was OK, helped along a bit by the packet of what tasted like the Japanese version of barbeque sauce. The bit of omelet was…interesting. I wasn’t really a fan of room temperature egg and hot dog, but there were only a couple of bites so I didn’t feel bad skipping over it. A surprising high point was the rice which was perfectly cooked, and I liked the addition of the greens for texture and flavor. The ramen was simply more carbs to fill you up and I didn’t think it was worth veering away from the rice.

I couldn’t bypass the sweets which included red bean buns, chocolate coronets, steamed green tea buns and the above mochi doughnut ($2). Yes, the price is kind of expensive, but it was really tasty with a nice chew and sprinkling of sugar on the outside. If you need a change from the morning doughnut or bagel, this could be a different source of sweet carbs.

I’m totally in favor of the new diversification of BentOn Cafe and glad that they kept the Korean foods as well.

BentOn Cafe (formerly Soma By Nature), 123 William St. (btw. Fulton & John streets), (212) 608-8850



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