Ben’s Deli in Gulfport has been around for quite a few years, but it is certainly not as well-known as is should be.
There aren’t a lot of restaurants around, it isn’t fancy in any way, but if you are looking for good food, good prices, the sort of place you want to go when you are seriously hungry, then Ben’s is the place for you.
Seating is limited, just one counter top with short bar stools running across the front of the restaurant, and orders are taken at a window that peers into the busy kitchen. I told you it wasn’t fancy, remember?
But Ben’s has a loyal following that seems to include people from all walks of life, from the nearby Seabee base, busy moms with kids, construction workers and folks who are surely headed to or from an air-conditioned office. When you see customers that are this varied, it’s a sure sign that the food is going to be very, very good. That’s Ben’s.
The menu is a bit eclectic and when I asked what the bestsellers were, I was told the fried shrimp po-boy was No. 1, which is certainly not a surprise, but No. 2 was fried rice. Is it a po-boy place or is it an Asian place? The menu breaks down like this: burgers and po-boys, fried rice, lo-mein noodles, egg rolls, plates (fried seafood, of course), a few salads and a few sides, like French fries with gravy and onion rings. Maybe I’d call it Asian-inspired American fusion?
Everything I saw coming out of the kitchen looked delicious, and there was a steady stream of people coming in, mostly getting takeout. I had to try the shrimp po-boy, and I have to admit my standards are pretty high. With overcooked seafood or food fried in oil that is not exactly fresh, I am walking out, but Ben’s nailed it.
The shrimp were properly fried, seasoned just right, and saying that the po-boy was overstuffed was an understatement. Delicious!
I am also a noodle nut, and love Italian and Asian noodles of all types, but lo-mein noodles have a very special place in my culinary heart. You have a choice of vegetable, chicken, pork, beef or a combination at Ben’s, and I went for the pork.
I was delighted when I received my order and found that it was made with Cantonese style barbecue pork, Char siu, with its famous red color and amazing spices that makes this one of my favorite pork dishes of all time. My favorite pork, with my favorite noodles, tossed in that amazing combination that often includes soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and ginger — how could it get better than this?
Next time you are heading down Pass Road in Gulfport, and get the serious munchies, or even want to feed the family in a hurry, check out Ben’s, I think you’ll be glad you did!
Where: 1412 Pass Road, Gulfport
Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday