Ramen in San Gabriel.
Minimalist, yeah. That’s a word for it.
When you walk in, it won’t necessarily feel like a Ramen joint. I mean…it is. That is Ramen coming out of the back. But it kinda looks and feels like a Coffee Joint that I would have gone to while I was in Collage. Minimal decor. Minimalist menu. Low key vibe.
And on top of it, I’m not in Torrance or in Sawtelle. Heck, I’m not even in Little Tokyo. I’m in freakin’ San Gabriel. Surrounded by some amazing Taiwanese and Vietnamese places, and here I am…getting my Ramen on.
Maybe that’s the key. Benten Ramen wants it to be all about the Ramen. I think we all can handle that.
It’s hard to talk about a place that’s doing the minimalist thing. Maybe we should skip ahead to the food.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: First off, there are only four Ramen Broths on the menu: Spicy Miso (5 oz.), Tonkotsu (5 oz.), Shoyu (5 oz.), Tsuke-Men (7.4 oz).
You can throw on extras like Chasu, extra noodles, corn, etc. for a buck more.
Benten Ramen does have Vegetarian Ramen, though I don’t know what that means.
I went with their Spicy Miso (with Corn added in) and their Lemon Basil house made refreshment. Not a bad way to go. Benten Ramen’s idea of spicy isn’t painful or sweat-inducing. It’s just tasty…really tasty. No pain involved at all. When I typically see the words “Spicy” associated with Japanese food, I’ve associated it more with the flavor than heat anyway. The Spicy Miso is really flavorful. Not quite what you were expecting from a Pork based broth. It kinda hits you from left-field, but it’s a happy hit from left field.
Of course, they can make an ultra spicy version if you want, with their homemade Habanero Powder. Wishing to enjoy my meal, and not measure just where my pain threshold is, I stuck with the regular Spicy Miso, and was very happy.
I’m at a point where I’m recommending people get corn for your Ramen just as a cooling element, in case the soup comes out of the Kitchen piping, and tongue-searingly hot. Corn is more of a Northern Japanese thing anyway, and may have been a leftover from the United State’s day’s occupying Japan after the War. But corn is a good idea.
The Lemon Basil Homemade…thing I had was also good, but given the temperature (not the spice level) of your Ramen, be prepared to order a second one.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Just go in knowing that there is no public restroom. Yes, they are selling you food and drink, but you’ll have to go elsewhere to relieve yourself.
Now, the day I was there, they ran out of two out of three of their homemade refreshments. So, just know going in, they can run out. Even though I wound up drinking my third choice, I’d have the Lemon Basil again.
Also, I’m providing links to the Website, but (as you’ll see) their website is still under construction. They’ve barely got the menu up, and even have the blank text fillers I’ve seen used by some WordPress Template companies.
And unlike so many places in San Gabriel, they do take credit cards.
PARKING: It’s okay, but can be difficult at times Benten Ramen sits at the edge of a local San Gabriel Strip Mall. Parking is decently plentiful and free, but the place is busy. It’s mostly Golden Deli’s fault, but there is sufficient turnover, particularly at the far end of the lot where you should (fingers crossed) be able to nab a space.
821 W. Las Tunas Dr.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Tel: (626) 910-5075
Tuesday-Sunday: 5:30 – 10:00 am, 11:00 am – 2:00 am