On a cold and miserable rainy day, nothing beats a bowl of noodles. My go-to dish has always been Pho, but in the downtown core, my options are limited. I really didn't want to take my chances at Cafe Joyeaux again, so I opted for ramen. Had a friend come downtown on business, so we walked over to Benkei Ramen on Thurlow. Second time here in four months, but I really should come more often. Get there before noon, or else expect to wait for a table - won't be a long wait since turnover is pretty fast here. Couldn't decided between the plain original one and the spicy one, so solved the problem by getting one of each, with an order of shrimp gyoza. The gyozas arrived first and we were both so hungry that we grabbed one each before realizing...PHOTO!
So here is the photo with two missing. At $3.50 per order, so 70¢ each, not bad. If you're expecting the whole prawn type gyoza, go somewhere else, like Kishu River. These are the ground up shrimp kind. Still good and better with a sprinkling of the spicy chili powder provided at the table. After a rather long wait, the Spicy Miso noodle (Akaoni) arrived. Described as a mix of "many kinds of spicy ingredients", it didn't disappoint.
The green onions were pan-fried, and the noodle was loaded with bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, and miced (again, their typo, not mine) pork. There is also a sprinkling of burnt garlic-sesame oil (the black squiggle in the left of the bowl). It was good...it was spicy enough, and if you drink the broth, you'll definitely feel the heat. The Light Soy noodle (Shoyu) arrived next. It was plain and simple, exactly as you would expect. A few sliced of chashu (bbq pork), some nori, and a few strands of bamboo-shoot. What really set this bowl of noodle apart for me is the way it smelled.
Taking the bowl into my hands and inhaling, I recognized the smell immediately. It smelled like Soy Sauce chicken! So here I was eating ramen, with pork and bamboo, but thinking about chicken. I guess the Soy in the broth really came through. If you plan to share and try both, I would suggest that you try the Shoyu first so that your taste buds won't be disappointed by the milder flavour after the Akaoni.