Benkei serves Japanese ramen in a variety of flavours with many add ons to create a custom bowl of soup to your liking.
Food: I ordered the spicy ramen. I eat spicy foods all the time, but this one was just, really really spicy. I tried the heavy tonkatsu as well - didn't taste heavy at all. It doesn't even come close to comparing with the heavy tonkatsu served at G-men. Furthermore, the noodles were slightly undercooked. I also ordered the chasu onigiri - completely tasteless! No flavour whatsoever.
Service: Good service; water was refilled several times. Very quick.
Value: Very poor value. I know that $7.80 for a bowl of ramen isn't considered expensive, but there was only a few strands of ramen in the bowl. Seriously, a package of instant noodles had more than what was in the bowl. My spicy ramen came with nothing more than the ramen, a few pieces of bamboo shoots, and very little minced meat. I'm not expecting a lot for a $8 dinner in downtown, but the value here was shockingly poor.
Ambiance: Appears to be quite clean.
I would not return due to the lack of quality and value.
I came here on a busy Saturday night after craving a comforting bowl of soup in the Ramen triangle. We thought about going across the street to the newer place but the lineup over there was ridiculous (and knew that it would be a similar situation at Kintaro on Denman). There were a few groups ahead of us but our party of three was seated within 10 minutes or so which was quite reasonable.
I ordered the shio soup base and some shrimp gyoza. Normally I am pretty conservative with my soup base selection and will just get miso but I am glad I strayed from the usual. The soup base was fantastic and overall it was a very tasty bowl. The gyoza were decent but not super great and next time will just get the pork gyoza instead.
Overall the food was really good and I will definitely come back when I am craving some ramen. The hard part will be to decide which of the three ramen houses to go to because all of them serve a top notch bowl and have their own style but choosing one over the other is difficult.
Went here during the holidays and it wasn't that busy. Was seated quickly and ordered the miso ramen. The soup looked and tasted really good but the ramen was a bit of a let down. It tasted like the pre-packaged ones you can buy at a asian store. No real taste and the noodles had not texture you would expect. The pork was a bit on the lean side and no flavour other than salt. Service was good and fast. Decor was minimal. Overall, wouldn't go back for this price.
A small group of us headed towards Downtown looking for an early dinner. Kintaro was too busy so we headed around the corner here, where we were seated promptly.
Lovely decor; couldn't assertain as to its authenticity but they definitely spent the time to make it look regional to what one would expect. The ambience is rounded off with the ubiquitous Japanese staff yelling back and forth.
Most of us ordered the miso with one spicy miso and I believe a brown broth based bowl called shoyo thrown in. The ramen noodles were fantastic with excellent bite coupled with a flavourful soup base for the miso. The ingredients feel skimpy to me with is unfortunate, with only a few thin slices of pork and a boiled egg. While the pork is tender, fattier pieces would be preferred as they were a bit lean. There are many choices for toppings for an additional price if you so desired. However, as it is, it's excellent ramen.
Service is spry and efficient. Constant water top ups and bowl clearing make for efficient dining.
The buzz around is that this is one of the best places for ramen, and I can surely agree.
I'd come here if the other 2 ramen places are too packed.
So..Benkei Ramen's ramen noodle is good but their soup base is not as good as Kintaro's. It seems like they're lacking something. I realized that it only tastes decent if I put a bunch of garlic in it. Their gyoza is small, tasteless and gross. Their onigiri is yummy.
Again, I'd come here if I have no choice.
I think this place is done up more nicely than Kintaro, more of a "you're in Japan" feel (though still much more roomy and bigger than the real thing).
The menu is very simple really. The fatty pork broth, the lighter (they said chicken) version or a mix. You can add extra sides, but I'm not one to mess around. I'm here for the noodles and the broth. The rest is just kind of fluff. (Well, okay, we did get some gyoza as well, but nothing special).
The cha su they have, I like it much better than Kintaro, but by default, you get 2 small pieces. Still, you will not be left hungry, especially with the thicker pork broth (which, if I recall, is in between Kintaro's choices of lean and super fatty). The lighter broth version was good too, it just depends on what you feel like at the time.
The noodles were sufficiently "boinky", thumbs up on that.
I've not been to Kintaro recently, but even at it's peak, I think this one is comparable. Either one would be a good choice, unless you've a craving for Kintaro's forest fire ramen or the cold noodles.
Service is friendly. They don't rush you. Seating is comfy enough, much more comfortable than Kintaro. Even though the house is full, I can manage to get waitresses' attention. Ambiance is pleasant enough for a place to grab a quick bite. However the portion of your noodles is really small.
Noodles taste good enough. It's not bad. It's not out of the world either. The portion is just like a bag of instant noodles you have at home. Toppings are in small portion as well. Even soup just barely covers the noodles. LOL! What's up with that? Soup is just water, why so cheap? Kintaro gives you more noodles and toppings for sure.
I ordered extra toppings for my ramen but the portion of each extra toppings is like one bite.
A bowl of noodles here is more like a snack than a meal, very skimpy. It can probably make a skinny girl feel full. If you are a dude, you need to order side dishes to be full. Don't order extra toppings, it's lame, each topping is only one small bite. Just order side dish if you are afraid that the noodles won't keep you full.
If you are in the area, then it's ok to come in and grab a bite. It's not worth your effort driving all the way to this place for noodles. I had better ramen than this. I would say their ramen is generic.
Ive been to this place four times. The first time I got the miso ramen and Mr. Dining Dandy had the spicy miso. His was really great, and very spicy mine was meh. There are 5 items on the menu with variosu toppings. They have tonkatsu soup, a shio soup, a spicy soup, a miso soup and a cream soup. the soup is okay and after you add all the toppings it adds up to about 10-11$ which is more expensive then motomatchi or kintaro which are just around the corner. Its misleading though because you think 'Hey 7$ for ramen.. oh wait the toppings are an extra 3.50' Anyhow the first visit was fine. Service was decent and the ambience was solid and the food was decent. The second time we went i wanted to try there creamy soup.. it was pretty bland and kind of flavorless... it had a very out of a can type taste. and Mr. Dining dandy stuck with the spicy miso which was decent. The third and fourth time i set my mind on spicy miso.. we were seated and when i ordered i was shocked when the waiter told me 'We are sold out of spicy soup'.... out of spicy soup... when you only have 5 soups on the menu... Well we walked out of there because i had been set for spicy soup and we went to motomatchi and got there organic spicy chicken miso. (yummy) anyhow the second time we got there earlier at around 1 in the afternoon and i again attempted to get the spicy miso and they were sold out.. again i walked out. I dont have patience for a business that cant get there act together when they've only got 5 things on the menu. Its such an ordeal sitting down having the waiter bring you water then when you place an order and they tell you they're sold out you have to get out... its awfully inconvenient especially if your going to work in an hour and had your taste buds set on it, NEVER AGAIN! ITS EMBRASSING! and if a business cant get there act together and order the proper amounts of ingredience to last at least untill after lunch then they dont deserve my business! oh and unlike kintaro and motamatchi they are not licensed so dont expect to get a beer or anything refreshing like that.
Wow! I can't wait to go back & try the other two ramens. Miso ramen was full bodied rich flavourful and just absolutely scrumptious. Got to pick 2 other toppings aside from the standard green onion & bamboo shoots. The ramen has a beautiful chewy texture and is a little thicker than the ramen shop around the corner. The place is clean, newly renovated, and has a steady flow of customers coming in. The service still needs a little bit of work. Servers are very polite but I suppose the flow of service can be greatly improved upon. Perhaps a bit speedier on the water/tea refills (just as the previous reviewer mentioned) and also quicker delivery of the bill. I cant believe that a bowl of ramen including tax is $7!!! A lovely lunch in downtown with change to spare! They also give you a stamp card! 1 free bowl for every 10 bowls purchased. Anyhow, this will be my new favorite ramen joint in Vancouver. Definetely a must try! (And no, I don't work there or have any ties to the ramen restaurant. Just very excited to see an inexpensive but delicious restaurant in downtown)
Have been to this restaurant twice and left satisfied both times. The prices are decent for the volume and flavour. The Shio Tonkotsu is probably the best of the ramens. My wife had the Miso and is was nothing to write home about. The gyo za is small but again decent. I thought the service was really good with attentive staff. I had a wait quite a bit for my ramen the first time I went and they gave me a free ramen coupon at the end of my meal.
Although this would not be my top choice for ramen places, I don't mind it at all. Texture of the noodles was good, soup broth was good, the meat portion was a little skimpy. But would probably go back only if the other ramen places were busy and I didn't feel like waiting for them.
I have been to this ramen place numerous times and although I have never been disappointed in my meal I find it is inconsistant. I find the soup base sometimes is thicker, and other times thinner (I order the same base each time). When it first opened, the first few times I ate here the char sui was as thick as your tongue, now it is only a few mm in thickness. Service is sometimes slow and other times very efficient, but always friendly. Everything still taste good however. They really need to get air conditioning in the restaurant, especially for the summer!
The miso ramen was too salty, i had to finish 2 glasses of water to finish the noodle. Gyoza was not crispy and tastes bland. My friend tried the spicy ramen and it was pretty good. But too much salt in general. And you have to pay extra for stuff that it should come free as onion.
Less crowded than Kintaro and the RaMen is just as good. The service and ambiance is also noticably better. I recommend the Shio for it's subtle but flavourful pork goodyness! I don't know how much pork bones they use in the brother, but it pacts a flavour punch. The Gyoza is nothing special, just solid. Just go for the RaMen and maybe the extra sides.
On a cold winter day nothing beats a bowl of ramen. We had a couple of places in mind, our first choice had a long line up, so we went around the corner and tried this place. It was busy, but we got seated and served right away. The service was good. I ordered the light soy ramen. The presentation was nice, but I was disappointed at the two small slices of pork and the fact that it didn't have much veggies in it. The noodle itself was just ok. The soup was way too salty for my taste...and I happen to like soy sauce. There are a couple of other Japanese ramen places in downtown that are far better. If I do return, I'll order the other soup base and I'll pay the extra for more stuff in my bowl.
Benkei Noodle Shop has been around for a short while and has been giving competition to the previous Vancouver ramen king Kintaro (located a half block down the street). This is the fourth time I have been to Benkei and the flavor of the broth has improved significantly, way tastier than the last few times. At Benkei, you have a choice between three types of ramen broth, miso, shoyu (soy sauce) and shio. There are some other types that are on available at lunch on Saturday. I ordered a side of gyoza and a bowl of miso ramen and added corn, extra bamboo shoots and a boiled egg.
The soup tasted pretty good, I wasn't blown away but it was a tasty cheap meal. The ramen costs $7.30 and it is 50 cents more for additional corn, or bamboo shoots or for the boiled egg. I love a pop with my ramen and a coke only costs $1.00 here, the finger goes to all those places that charge me $2.50 for a can of pop. I know you got to get yours but come on $2.50 for a non bottomless pop, thats just greedy. Karma, jerks!!!
The atmosphere of the restaurant is great, decorated with exposed wooden beams and Japanese paraphernalia. The restaurant is small in capacity and you can expect a line.
Benkei Noodle Shop
1741 Robson Street
They even give you a stamp card, 10 stamps and you get a free bowl. Subway needs to bring their stamp game back.
The real question: Is Benkei better than Kintaro?
This time Benkei was better, last time Kintaro was tastier. Atmosphere is way better at Benkei.
pictures available on http://www.vancouverslop.com
I've been to Kintaro a couple of times and I always liked it but this place is definitely awesome too! I went on a weekday night and it was actually really busy. They did bring me fatty pork even tho i ordered lean one but once I told them, they brought me a whole bowl of lean pork so I could just put it into my soup. The restaurant has a very nice interior design, but most important really good prices for really good food. I can definitely recommend this place to anyone who likes ramen :)
I came here with a party of 4 at around 2pm on a Saturday afternoon. The place wasn't busy so we were able to get a table right away. The restaurant reminded me of some ramen restaurants I went to in Tokyo. We ordered 2 Spicy Miso ramens and 2 Chicken ramens with the creamy soup (forgot the name). The Spicy Miso ramen came with ground pork and it reminded me of Ma Po Tofu sauce so it's kinda like eating Ma Po Tofu (without the tofu) with noodles. I tried the Chicken ramens with the milky/creamy soupbase and at first taste, it was good but after a few more slurps, it just tasted like a watered down Campbell's cream soup. Service was decent and friendly. And the plus side is that they have stamp cards.
If I do come back, I will be sticking to the basic Ramens (Miso or Shoyu) but I would rather go to Kintaro or Motomachi Shokudo.
I completely agree with Ror. The wheels have come off at benkei in a major way. I've eaten here since the day after opening day and I had been coming back regularly. I loved everything about their food although I noticed the quality of the chashu went a little downhill first earlier on. Nevertheless, I still liked their ramen overall. That all changed dramatically about the time they started opening other locations it seemed. Despite my bad experiences, I told myself, I was just unlucky or it was the particular location (I've eaten at 2 other locations) but sadly, after a string of poor meals I have to say goodbye to Benkei. I still like Kintaro's noodles and the small hoel in the wall diner ambiance, but Santouka Hokkaido is my new personal fave. I like Miki on kingsway also. Even ezogiku is better than Benkei these days.
The food was fine at a reasonable price but in order to talk to the person you're sitting with you need to yell like crazy. The staff are constantly yelling orders at each other and the walls are all concrete so the sound just bounces around until it goes into your ear.
The only way I'll go back is if I happen to really want their spicy miso (which is good) and the place is practically empty. Forget about going anywhere near lunch time.