DinnerBenkei Noodle Shop

[rating:3] :

Benkei Noodle Shop
(Clockwise left to right: 1. Benkei Noodle Shop. 2. A young patron enjoying the house’s speciality. 3. An ancient halberd sits in the corner patiently waiting for those who don’t pay their bills.)

Benkei Noodle Shop is a relative newcomer to the Ramen noodle scene. Since Kintaro is consistently busy, Case and I needed a solid back-up plan if we ever had a noodle craving and didn’t want to leave the West End with an empty stomach. Friends of ours recommended Benkei which is right on Robson, just around the corner from Kintaro.

Asians take their noodles seriously, especially the Japanese — consider the seminal Japanese comedy classic film about noodles, Tampopo, for confirmation. We were certain this passion for noodle making would translate into an interesting meal.

The decor at Benkei was pleasantly nice and cozy with brand new wood walls, strategically placed overhanging banners and squeaky clean new tables. Although we were a bit curious about the ancient Asian weapon perched precariously in the corner of the restaurant — a visual deterrent for dine and dashers perhaps? We were quickly seated; menus handed to us; and tea was promptly poured. They don’t waste any time at Benkei.

Benkei Noodle Shop
(Top to bottom: 1. Gyozas. 2. Some pork on pork action.)

Case and I both order the Shio Tonkatsu Ramen, which is a broth thickened by stewing pork bones and seasoned with sea salt for flavouring. According to their menu the Shio Tonkatsu Ramen contains “a lot of collagen and calcium, which is a source of beautiful skin and strong bones.” So apparently, this isn’t just a meal — it’s also a health spa in a bowl. To accompany our meal we order a side of of gyozas.

It is likely a matter of personal taste, but we both felt the Benkei broth had less body and flavour. The slices of pork were leaner, which would likely make a dietitian happy, but made me sad because that meant the meat was significantly drier and tougher. The noodles themselves were competently executed; cooked nicely with a bit of bounce on the bite. The gyozas, although much prettier in presentation than Kintaro, were surprisingly lacklustre.

Overall the service was extremely efficient, if not robotic, and we did enjoy our meal. However, despite the nicer decor and absence of extended line ups, Benkei lacked the certain magic that we’ve come to expect from a simple bowl of Ramen noodle.

Perfect for:

A suitable alternative for Ramen noodle if you are unwilling to wait for a seat at Kintaro, or you desire a meal that would result in nice skin and strong bones.

The Details

1741 Robson Street, Vancouver

Benkei Ramen on Urbanspoon

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