Summer only comes around once a year, and with it are seasonal eats that can't be missed. At one of Vancouver's longest standing ramen shops, they've got a limited time seafood ramen that deserves some attention...but they also have some summertime and regular menu dishes sure to please, too.
Benkei Ramen on West Broadway at Cambie seems a little tucked off the beaten path--hard to do when you're at one of the city's busiest intersections. This small ramen shop fills up fast on the daily, with happily slurping patrons tucking into cold or hot bowls seated around the u-shaped centre table.
Right now Benkei is serving up a BC Kaisen (Seafood) Ramen, made with their thin noodles, fresh clams and scallops, and a rich, complex broth made with an insane amount of shrimp flavour packed into each bite. The broth comes warm, and on the side, and you can get your noodles hot or cold, which you then dip into the sultry, velvety broth.
The result: A ramen experience that comes with a gentle touch rather than an in-your-face salty, fatty punch.
Now, that said, if you do want to take your tastebuds on a fiery, meaty journey, Benkei has a signature Akaoni ramen that delivers on the spice front and is made with ground pork, something you don't see on the menu elsewhere.
Slurp that one up hot, and cool off with small side dishes, like their simple salmon rice bowl or housemade gyoza with a tender pork filling. Or pack your appetite and include an order of their Japanese beef curry, which can fuel you up for all sorts of summer adventures.
Also on their regular menu are two vegan ramen dishes, including the intriguing Vegan Black Ramen, which is made with black sesame and coconut milk for a hearty, unctuous ramen experience, and zero animal products.
Benkei does a great job of serving up their signature dishes and working seasonal and creative options into the rotation. They're also taking steps to become the city's first Ocean Wise-certified ramen shop; they've got a leg up, considering one of their owners is Chef Takayuki (Taka) Omi who is behind the stunning fresh seafood at the RawBar at the Fairmont Pacific Rim.
If seafood isn't your thing, or they sell out of the modest allotment of bowls they can make daily, Benkei has a cold-noodle ramen on offer for the summer to help you beat the heat.