Ramen is one of my new obsessions and with Big M coming downtown for a lunch date, I thought it would be a great idea to try out Benkei Noodle Shop on Thurlow. It looks like they have 3 locations and the one on Thurlow is the closest ramen to my office.
Another cheer for the early lunch as we were seated right away. The line up started very soon after our arrival. There is a very small entry area so the line up always crowds around the tables near the front. The decor of the restaurant is very cozy. Wood work everywhere with 4 top table seating and a large U shaped table for single seating.
I knew what I was going to get before we got there as Benkei has a website with a menu. Based on the description, I chose this:
"Shio - Boiling the pork and sapping out the rich taste, this Fukuoka-born ramen contains collagen and calcium - a source for beatiful skin and strong bones. This is a recommendation for our female ramen lovers."
I am a female ramen lover, so how could I say no? Beautiful skin and strong bones in a bowl of pork soaked soup- couldn't pass that up! I asked Big M if I had a beautiful skin glow about me when we were done but he said the lighting was too dim in the restaurant to tell. Maybe it is one of those things that needs more time to kick in...
I really liked the broth of the soup. It was really creamy and flavourful. The amount of noodles in the bowl was generous. They do offer an upgrade option if you want more noodles. I wasn't the happiest with the pork. It never seemed to get really and soft. Maybe the broth wasn't hot enough because it stayed kind of tough. Still really tasty, but not melt in your mouth soft like I have had at other places. I have been back here since this meal and the pork was the same. Not terrible, but not the best I have had.
Big M chose the spicy offering:
"Akaoni - Mixed with various kinds of spices, this spicy-miso is a favorite for many. The addition of garlic oil creates a much richer flavor. The burning sensation followed by the soothing delicious taste is going to make you come back for more."
He really liked the spiciness of the broth. The pork was shredded in his dish, which he found a bit surprising, but he said it was tender and well cooked.
As I can't pass it up, we also ordered the pork gyoza.
I really liked the gyoza. They were spicy and fresh with a nice crisp on the bottom.
I have been back to Benkei since this visit and had another offering:
"Shoyu - This traditional Tokyo Ramen is a standard in ramen stores. Served with bamboo-shoots, spinach and nori, it's a very healthy Japanese style-Chinese noodle". I didn't have the camera on this day but between the two bowl I ate, I would go with the Shio over the Shoyu. Not only for the beautiful skin it offers me, but the creaminess of the broth. I found the Shoyu a bit lacking in the flavour that the Shio offered.
A big bonus for me is the loyalty card:
I love the enthusiasm of the YES!! free ramen box. I am excited too! Just think of how beautiful my skin will be after 10 bowls...