Benkei serves Japanese ramen in a variety of flavours with many add ons to create a custom bowl of soup to your liking.
I really like this place because it's one of the only places that serves chicken ramen. And their curry ramen with chicken is amazing, especially if you add a little extra garlic which they'll happily provide. If you're hungry just adding extra everything leaves you pretty filled for 4$ extra.
This location just opened in the London Drugs complex on West Broadway and Cambie. The inside is similar to other Benkeis including stools and lots of bamboo everywhere. There is a big communal bar-like area in the front and bunch of tables on the left.
I ordered akaoni ramen which has a spicy miso broth and shredded pork instead of the usual sliced pork. The bowl was, as you'd expect, pretty much exactly the same as other locations. I enjoyed the spicy bowl and it was a nice change from the standard ramens.
The bowls are a little on the small size but obviously management has been listening to their customers because there is now a sumo size option. For 50 cents, add 50% more noodles to your bowl. I didn't try it because I just wanted a snack, but I think its a good idea.
It's not big place and they try to maximize the seat count, so don't expect a lot of space. The seats are just wooden crates with cushions glued to the top. It's a good way to encourage a faster turn-over. The service is nice & quick. Thanks to the previous reviews, I ordered extra noodle for a dollar more. It was just right for me. The sumo size(50 cents for 50% more noodle) option is not on the menu but a wall poster. If your regular portion is around the size of a big mac combo, then you will need the dollar extra. The pork was a bit dry but good flavour. Will go back if in the area for a quick bite.
The service was absolutely horrible. We sat down and ordered a Shiyo Chicken Ramen with extra noodles. But when it came there were no extra noodles. Oh and did I mention that the noodles were originally supposed to be in soup? So we asked the staff about it. Then they gave us this lame excuse saying " Oh, for certain ramen orders we give you the noodles on a plate on the side," when it was apparent that it was the staff who forgot about it in the first place. Then the "extra noodles" came. They were dried and soupless. Its disgusting to eat the noodles without soup and the soup that came with the original order wasn't enough for the extra noodles, so we asked for more soup. The waitress, who was already at fault for forgetting about the extra noodles, said that they couldn't give us more soup. So we asked to speak to the manager. Surprisingly, she didn't know who was the manager of the store, so we asked another one of your staff. The answer was the same, they didn't know who the manager was. This brings up the question of whether there is even a manager at the store or was he/she just hiding to avoid his managerial duties??? Another one of the staff was extremely cocky and said "if you want more soup, then $3.50" He just kept repeating that without even trying to understand the situation at all.
I feel as though I have been spoiled for Ramen. Ever since discovering Motomachi a few years ago i haven't really bothered to eat Ramen anywhere else, for fear of disappointment. But last night I was hungry and didn't really want to make the trip down to the West End so I headed to Benkei Ramen on Broadway (near Cambie).
Staff were friendly and greeted me warmly when I arrived. I was even offered a little canvas holder to put my bag in so it didn't get dirty on the floor! Pretty impressed!
I ordered the Shio Ramen and added an egg, extra bamboo shoots and corn. My order came out super quick, under 5 minutes. On first inspection the broth was cloudy unlike Motomachis Shio which is clear. Portion size wasn't bad but definitely needed the additions to help flesh it out. The noodles were ok, had good bite. The broth was pretty bland. I'm not sure if that is because I ordered the "lite" version (no oil) but it didn't have the tasty salty flavour i'm used to at Motomachi. After I finished all the ingredients I left most of the broth as I found it a bit of a strange flavour.
I won't say that I wouldn't go to Benkei again, maybe I would try something other than the Shio but there simply is no comparison between this and Motomachi. If you want a superior product (and enjoy organic ingredients) head down to Denman near Robson. It will be with your trip.
Benke has now become a fast growing franchise. They will continue to open new branches including one in Richmond.
The product is good though not the best. But for the price, it's reasonable. Go for the sumo size (50% more noodle) if you're hungry. Tip: You can have double sumo size. So for a buck more, you can pretty well double the amount of ramen, which is a very very good deal.