At long last, there be a decent bowl of ramen outside of Japan! There was a lot of hype when Kintaro Ramen opened on Denman Street in Downtown Vancouver. There were line ups out the door practically every single day. The atmosphere was great - it was a small shop, noisy, not particularly clean, and steamed up windows. I gave Kintaro a try and was severely disappointed. Soft, overcooked noodles, flavourless broth, and chashu that was lean enough to pass as leather. When Benkei opened up, I didn't have my hopes up, but I gave it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised. They could actually put together a half-decent bowl of ramen, despite the gawdy interior decorations (walls are covered with made-in-China katana)
The chashu was nice and thick, and very, very fat, just the way I like it.
And the broth was nice and fat, and nice and salty - which should have you screaming for a cup of water or racing to the bathroom with a bad case of geri. But that's how good ramen should affect your internal organs. At the end of the whole adventure, I even picked up the bowl with both hands and slurped back all of the soup.....so fattening, but oh so good.
The one problem with Benkei is that it's not consistent. Sometimes I will get an incredibly awesome bowl of ramen, and other times (and often times), I'll get the wrong order, or there's something missing, or the chashu is completely non-existent and diced into tiny little cubes.
Well, this'll do until I go back to Japan.