Ben's Restaurant (Chinese food) in Jack London Produce Market District, Oakland - Wed only fried chicken $6; Curry chicken fried rice - any reports?
- hhc May 22, 2013 11:54 PM
Just read the online version of East Bay Express review of Ben's Restaurant. It's a cash only, hole-in-the-wall place, with Wed only special fried chicken $6 & off menu special curry chicken fried rice, shrimp & scrambled eggs over rice, & other dishes. Any hounds report?
398 3rd St (Jack London Produce Market District)
Weekdays only, closes at 2pm
Ben's has basically the same menu as chitown plus a few specials.
tried only the beef chow mein(6.5). it tasted slightly different from chinatown. had slight aftertaste (msg?)
lots of parking after 1 when the produce market closes.
prices looked cheaper than chitown. would go again if in the area. parking issues main concern.
read this article and I have never been inside but the place looks really dirty from the outside. not sure if I'm willing to risk it.
I gave it a try today for the fried chicken special. I liked the hole-in-the-wall atmosphere. Service was a bit scattered, though friendly. It took me a while to place my order, and I had to wait about 1/2 hour for my food. The woman asked me three times whether I wanted my food to stay or to go, and, despite my answering to stay each time, it was packed to go. I didn't mind, but if you care about stuff like that, this may not be your place. Whenever the line got too long, she would tell people to come back tomorrow, but she would start serving again when the line went down. The batter deep fried chicken was definitely a notch above what you'd get in a typical American-Chinese place, but probably not worth the wait. I'd try them again, but not for the special and not on a Wednesday. Something about the quirkiness of the restaurant really appealed to me.
re: Martin Strell
I tried again yesterday (Monday). Unlike my first experience, I was able to give my order immediately and got my food less than 5 minutes later. I really enjoy the quirkiness of the place. When I was ready to pay, the woman owner was outside dancing to (presumably) Chinese music on her iPod shuffle. Earlier she was singing Chinese music loudly and well. Unfortunately, I haven't really liked the food so much. I had the scrambled eggs with shrimp over rice. It was a giant portion - probably 3 or 4 eggs. But it was, to me, very oily. I did enjoy the black bean sauce another person posted about. I think I'll maybe give them one more shot, but the two dishes I've had there were way too heavy for me.
I used to work right down the street and we got lunch there quite a bit. I never had to wait as long as Martin for the fried chicken, but of course this was before they got written up in the Express. My coworkers were fans of the Shanghai noodles. I always had good luck with the specials, although the specials posted on the wall never seem to change, you just have to ask what they have and then give it a shot. I don't think I ever had anything there that was bad... not sure if it's worth crossing town to eat there, but if you're in the neighborhood you can count on a good meal for a good price. If you go there often enough, the super nice lady will get you know you: after a while, she would hand us a bag of fruit along with our orders.
They serve a crazy good black bean/chile hot sauce condiment that tastes good on everything, is oily as all get out, and I've not seen it anywhere else.
Also, there is additional dining space upstairs, although it can be unpleasantly hot in the summer.
OK, now I miss Ben's. Time to go back.
here's a photo of the black bean/chile hot sauce relish ...... it is indeed very tasty! black beans, red chiles, green chiles ( serrano/jalapeno ? ) , preserved vegetable I think ....., lots of oil, sesame oil, garlic, etc ....... we got there when they open at 11:30am on a thursday and there was no wait. by the time we left there were people standing around downstairs waiting for their food and to order. We ate upstairs and there was no one else. I had the ma po tofu with beef and my friend had the egg fu yung with shrimp. the shrimp were tasty and it was a decent portion over rice. the sauce for the ma po tofu was well seasoned ..... the ample veg pieces were a bit too al dente but the dish overall was still OK ..... I'd go back. May have to try the fried chicken ?