Benkei serves Japanese ramen in a variety of flavours with many add ons to create a custom bowl of soup to your liking.
A great alternative to Kintaro, since their line-up is always such a pain. Slightly smaller portions, which is good for me because if I go here I can actually eat all that I order, rather than stuffing myself silly trying to eat everything at Kintaro. I reccommend the miso and shoyu ramen. Also try the rice ball for a pleasant addition to the meal. Lovely, friendly service, and an ambiance to match. Love this place!
I've eaten at Benkei probably about half a dozen times in the last 8 months or so. I used to go to Kintaro, but the waits are just a joke, and Benkei has improved so much in the last few months that Kintaro is no longer worth the wait.
I always have the same thing - their miso ramen. Unlike other ramen places I've been to, here you have to order some toppings which elsewhere would be included. The miso ramen comes with onions, noodles of course, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots and a slice or two of pork. Corn? Egg? Anything else? It's all extra which honestly I think a bit cheap of the owner. It's because of this that I only gave the value as solid.
The soup itself though is improving. A few months ago I would add lots of the extra chili and garlic which is offered (for free - the only topping that is). On my latest trip, I found that the broth had improved so much that just a little garlic was needed. Overall, quality of food tends to be good.
The service here, though, has always been excellent. Everytime that I've been the staff has been welcoming, attentive and very polite. They push you out the door pretty quickly, but it's been like that in all ramen joints I've eaten at. The only complaint on service is that this last time the shouting of hello and thank you and goodbye has gotten to a fevered pitch. Screaming is not needed guys! But thanks for being so polite anyways.
Overall, this place is improving and worth the visit. I'll be back.
I've tried 3 of the ramen houses in Vancouver: Kintaro, Benkei & Motomachi. Out of the three, I particularly like the Benkei the best.
My partner and I went last Friday. We got there around 7:30 pm and there was a huge line up almost out the door. Waited for about 20 minutes and got a table.
Looked at the menu and easy to read and order.
I had the shoyu ramen & my partner the miso ramen w/extra chashu. Ordered onigir & gyozas as appetizers. Onigiri is very very good... My partner never had an onigiri before and he just loved it.
Ambiance is pretty good. Clean, new & bright. Choice in seating; counter or tables.
Ramen noodle is excellent here... Japanese people like their noodles "puchi puchi" and it definitely is! Soup base is not as rich as Kintaro's so easy to slurp up the soup. The soup in the miso ramen was so good, my partner ate it all....
One excellent idea at this ramen shop, they give you a tray with fresh ground garlic & chilis if you ask for it and add it to your taste.
I'll defintely go back again and again. I think to me, this is the best I've had here in Vancouver.
Had a late lunch here (around 3pm) with my boyfriend, and we were seated very quickly; there wasn't a line-up, though most of the seats were occupied. The service was very quick and friendly. We ordered a miso ramen and a shoyu ramen, which arrived hot and looked appetizing. Since our parking meter was ticking away, we slurped them down, and probably would have enjoyed it even more without the time contraint.
The broth was nice and didn't leave us thirsting for a drink later. The fatty pork was tasty, and I'm not much of a pork eater! The noodles were the right texture, and the egg I added was perfectly cooked. We left with full, satisfied stomachs, as well as stamp cards for a free bowl of ramen. Looking foward to coming back!
Benkei serves the best ramen I've tried downtown.
The ambiance at Benkei is what'd give it the step ahead of other good ramen spots.
The service was quick, friendly and efficient. I ordered within a few minutes of sitting and had my soup shortly after.
The broth is delicious (I had the Shiso). I like that it's only an extra 50 cents to add extra ingredients. Added the egg. Is it just me or do they know how to boil an egg to perfection? There was just a hint of moist, slightly soft yolk and no grey around the yolk like my hard boiled eggs seem to get!
The fatty pork was soooooooooo declicious!
I like how they've got the container of fresh garlic at every table to add onto your meal.
The card that offers you a free ramen after buying so many is all the reason to frequent this place..especally as Vancouver's entering the chilly, rainy season(s) - Great comfort food!
I actually been there twice.First time I really enjoy with my Shio noodles. It was really good. I almost finish everything in the bowl. But the sencond time was ok .But I really like the services there, all the staff were so friendly. They were really fast and helpful. The best thing I like about this place is they will YELL OUT LOUD "thank you, plz come again" when you are leaving. That's feel really nice!!!!
Our first time was the BEST, back in July. Went back a couple of times since then, but came out hugely dissapointed. Service were still pretty solid, but the ramen, especially the soup were a big downer. May be they are still tweaking and twightening some loose ends. Will go back there one more time to see if they can get it right.
I found an article review this place when it first open and I visited them. They was amazingly good. Not any more. They had changed the recipe for their bbq pork. The pork used to be so good that I brought so many of my friends there again and again. Now the pork is chewy and the soup is too sweet. I saw them put a spoonful for syrup in each bowl. I will never go back there again.
I think one of the chef had quit. He has buzz cut hair with facial hair. Since then, the pork haven't been the same. If you know which chef I'm talking about and know where about he is working at, please let me know. I will go there to try his food.
I went to this place for lunch at around 11:40am. Not so busy and I received fast service. Food arrived within 5 mins, which is very good for lunch time. The ramen is just right for me. I ordered a Shio ramen with extra chashu. The chashu is soft and thick, and of the right taste. There are bean sprouts and green onions as well. The soup tasted ok, not salty or oily. I would definitely go back again as the place is comfortable. Not shabby, nice decoration and lighting.
My first experience at Benkei was a good one. The owner personally seated us and we were throughly introduced to the menu. I would say that the menu is superior to Kintaro's. Items such as Extra Noodles, Spinach and Seaweed sides give great customization. The noodles themselves are slightly different than Kintaro's but still tasty.
However, my second experience there was quite a bit different. It was busy. Lined up to the door in fact. My girlfriend and I noticed a table in near the front window that was empty, and had been for a long time. My girlfriend went to inquire about it, because it seemed that the people ahead of us were larger groups.
After waiting several minutes for someone to even acknowledge her existence, she finally stopped one of the servers (who was trying to run away from her...). She asked about the table at the front, and she was told that they were closing the section! When the restaurant is the busiest, they close a section? Needless to say I left, and went to Motomachi Shokudo where there was no line and the ramen was better!
We walked past Benkei later and found someone sitting at that table we saw earlier...
I won't be returning to Benkei.
Went there for dinner around 6:30pm, ordered the Miso ramen.
I can honestly say, this place would not survive if it was in Japan. Funny how they're opening a new location on Broadway. The noodles were too soft, the soup base was mostly MSG. The pork was bland. The thing I find ridiculous is the "sides" that you add, they're so expensive. In Japan, ramen is suppose to be a fast food. It's suppose to fill you up and served really quickly with tons of ingredients. I just can't wrap my mind around them being able to charge money for 2 pieces of nori sheets (seaweed). Also, their proportion sizes were small, so for that value, I don't see how it's worth it.
Service was slow and disorganized. We were standing at the door and didn't get addressed for 5 minutes. There were plenty of empty tables, but we were just being ignored. The ambiance was alright, nothing special.
In the end, I don't think I'll try it anymore. I'll save my ramen craving until I go to Japan.
.. can give Kintaro a run. Ramen is hot and flavorful, not as much MSG as other ramen places. Also has more sitting-areas than Kintaro. Ambience is a bit more upscale than Kintaro, but honestly, each have their own strengths.
Chasiu and the soup base are of decent quality. They have other food choices also - gyozas, etc... it's a place where you can sit down and enjoy your ramen, instead of being rushed.
Definitely will come back when I have a Ramen craving.
I've tried all 3 ramen places on the block now and Benkei would be the one rated in the middle between Kintaro and Motomachi. The price per bowl is $6.60 (miso soup base is $6.90) but the portions were a bit smaller than Kintaro and Motomachi. Also um, the toppings were skimped out. On my shoyu ramen, I noticed a lot or green onions, a small piece of nori, and 2 pieces each of charsu and bamboo shoots, JUST TWO! The broth, thank god, definitely was a plus for me. It didn't having floating pieces of lard like Kintaro and the broth wasn't so heavy. Could've used a bit more shoyu though.
For the ladies, this would be a good sized portion. And also the add-ons I guess are a gimmick. The charsu had a really nice smokey flavour. We tried the gyoza and they were super juicy and crispy. Wasn't too full so we tried the chopped charsu in onigiri. I would come back!
My family brought some visitors from out of town here, all of us having eaten authentic ramen in Japan and hoping to revisit that experience. In spite of being a large party showing up at lunchtime on a busy Sunday, we were seated fairly quickly by the friendly and cheerful staff.
The menu is pretty straightforward, offering the three traditional options of shio, shoyu or miso broth as well as some interesting variations. All of us chose either shio (sea salt) or shoyu broth. We also tried the chashu onigiri and the gyoza.
The gyoza were delicious and highly approved of by all of us. The onigiri were okay, nothing spectacular but since we often make these at home maybe they aren't as exciting as they might otherwise be. As for the ramen, thoughts among our group were mixed. Though we were all happy to finish off everything in our bowls, the feeling was that the broth seemed to be lacking a certain depth and richness of flavour. The pork wasn't as tender as we would have liked, though the flavour was delicious. None of us could find fault with the noodles themselves though and we were all glad we paid a little extra to get more noodles added to our bowls.
Overall I would be happy to eat here again to try some of the other offerings on the menu, but we also want to try the other ramen shops in the neighbourhood to see whether we can find something a little closer to those simple street corner ramen shops in Japan.
I consider myself pretty picky and a bit of a gourmand, but I'm not Japanese and not a ramen connoisseur, but if you are, please ignore my review and go experience it yourself.
This review will be more relevant if you've been to Kintaro, where many people consider to have one of the better/best ramen in town.... (although my Japanese friends wouldn't be caught dead eating there.)
Benkei basically have the same menu as Kintaro; pick your soup base, pick quantity of noodles, pick lean or fatty pork, and pick your toppings.
The presentation wasn't very flashy, at least Kintaro makes some effort of stacking the toppings a little. I picked the miso soup base; the ramen was cooked nicely, not too mushy and had a good bite. Soup was bold and rich, but it was slightly on the salty side for me. You get two pieces of pork by default. I wasn't sitting by the kitchen, but I'm pretty sure the pork was grilled over real flames to give it a smoky flavour. Although the pork had a wonderful flavour, my 'fatty' pork pieces were pretty darn chewy (not sure if it's prepared like that on purpose.)
The interior was very nicely decorated (as you would expect for a new place), miles ahead of the utilitarian and grungy state of Kintaro. I was at Benkei around 2.30 in the afternoon on a weekday, and the place was buzzing at 80% capacity. Staff was quite busy, so don't expect to get a second or third round of water without asking. (they're still hiring)
Benkei's food quality is pretty much at par with its closest competitions, but its clean and new setting puts the whole dining experience beyond them.
Came here with a friend a couple days ago looking for some ramen action. Was in d/t around 11am and this was the only ramen place opened so we went in.
Food: Ordered the miso ramen and friend ordered creamy ramen with rice ball chasu. Miso tasted the best out of both ramen. I requested for extra noodles for a dollar extra which wasn't bad value. Soup was rich and full of flavour. The pork pieces were 3 slim but really tender to compliment the chewy noodles.
Service: the restaurant wasn't full so the service was very attentive.
Value: Prices comparable to other d/t ramen joints which was good.
Verdict: Overall a really good place to go and good value in d/t area. Highly recommended 9 out of 10.
I went here because there was a line at Santouka Ramen on Robson, and we were too hungry to wait. I've been the the Benkei that was on Thurlow St, which was pretty good.
I ordered the Shio and side of gyozas.
What a disappointment with the ramen. My broth was so bland and plain, salty with a bad pork taste to it. The meat in my soup was dry, added in after. Gyozas were pretty good. Overall I would have preferred to cook up some packaged ramen.
It was empty inside. No wonder
This was my third time dining in at Benkei Ramen. I've been to three locations (Robson, Thurlow and Broadway). It has never impressed me, and has since been a last-resort type of restaurant for me.
Food: The noodles, itself, are too soggy while the soup base is much too MSG based. Some people might even mistaken this as being rich. Traditional ramen broth is to be boiled slowly, but a sip of Benkei's soup tells a ramen lover that their soup uses preservatives and MSG to cover up the lack of preparation.
Service: Much better than the food. They seat you down and refill your cups accordingly. It is nothing of the ordinary.
Value: For their prices, I would much enjoy a meal at a neighbouring restaurant like Santouka or Kintaro (they are worth the line ups if you're looking for tradition, Japanese ramen).
I applaud Benkei's ability to build such a strong customer chain, but they must step up the quality of their food in order to gain the acceptance of the real Ramenist audience and not just those that have not ate traditional ramen.
There are many other Chinese-run Japanese restaurants in town that serve better ramen. Being Chinese is not an excuse to serve poor food.
Definitely not recommended.
This place is one of my favourites to go when it's rainy and cold and I need comfort food! The ambiance is fantastic and very authentic. The servers are all Japanese and are very friendly and helpful - especially if it's your first time ordering there.
My favourite broth is the Shoyu, and the serving portions are very filling - especially for the price (around $7).
Don't be disappointed when you see only a couple of pieces of meat in your dish though, (it's the authentic way of preparing it).
My friend claims "that the chicken could've survived" losing a bit of meat for a bowl of ramen.
("just a flesh wound!")
I also recommend asking for the chicken broth instead of the pork broth (I don't think it's written on the menu).
They also have stamp cards. Booya!
This restaurant is always full of energy!! The place is well decorated and the wait times are not bad at all.
The service is quick and the waiters are very friendly. The menus are easy to understand and I appreciate the detailed descriptions of the different ramen bowls. It's always difficult to choose which bowl to order!!
I love the food - it's so tasty and filling! The soup tasted great, and the noodles were just right!
I highly recommend this place to anyone craving ramen! :)