May. 05, 2023 UPDATE
Soba and udon have always been loved by the people of Kyoto
Part 4

Soba and udon noodles out of the ordinary

In the last part I am going to tell you about soba and udon noodles that are out of the ordinary.

Japanese people have always loved soba and udon. Especially udon, which was born around a thousand years ago, and which was already popular all around Japan in the 17th century, has always been a popular dish. Since udon has such a long history there are bound to be many arrangements of it. Some dishes add western elements to udon, while others fuse udon with some other Japanese dishes. In this last part I am going to tell you about new and interesting udon dishes!
The man on the street likes curry udon, I like curry soba
Curry udon is a style of udon that many Japanese people like. The thick curry and udon’s dashi broth come together to form a deep taste. And in Kyoto you can have other out of the ordinary noodles than just udon. By this I mean curry soba; the thin soba noodles and curry come together to form a fresh new taste.
Mimiko offers an interesting take on curry udon, since you can choose the strength of your curry. For those that like their curry mild and on the sweeter side, you can choose the normal curry. For those who prefer to walk the middle way you can choose 1.5 strength curry. But I think of most of us curry aficionados it has to be double strength, the strongest they offer.
The double strength curry has a really powerful taste of curry but it is just that; a strong tasting curry, it doesn’t get the kick from chili which I find to be a good thing, especially considering you get to choose from four different kinds of chili powders and peppers on the table if you wish to make your curry hotter. In the picture you can see an abura-age deep-fried tofu curry udon, and I tell you, boy does this sweet taste go well with the strong curry, especially if you add some chili on it.
Sanjo Owariya
Sanjo Owariya
Sanjo Owariya is famous for both tempura soba and their duck curry soba which has a sweet taste that is sure to be a hit amongst those for who found the aforementioned restaurant’s udon too hot. The soba here is sweet but it is not overly sweet since it still has that same deep taste that the tempura udon’s broth here has; the great dashi punch that cannot be found elsewhere. This curry soba also contains abura-age deep-fried tofu so I recommend that you add some shichimi chili spice mix to it if it starts to taste too sweet for you.
Tea soba
Tea soba is a soba you can probably only find in Kyoto. Tea soba gets its green color from the Uji matcha that is mixed into the flour when the noodles are made. You can smell and taste the fragrance of the tea in the soba so I recommend that at first you just eat some noodles as-is. I hope you can enjoy the fragrance of the soba going to your nose.
What really stands out in Shofukutei is their soba. It’s green. What else can you say? You have probably had some green matcha ice cream; those of you who have been to Taiwan may have had some green stinky tofu; but have you ever had green noodles? The taste is not as strong as one might expect, you can mainly smell the tea, and the taste is very faint.

Also I have to meantion this, Shokufutei is really cheap! If you just want soba you can get it for under 500, but what I really recommend are their soba sets that have a bowl of soba and maybe some tempura or a rice bowl. Speaking of tempura, Shofukutei’s tempura is exquisite, and goes really well with the green noodles.
I am going to tell you about udonsuki next. In udonsuki udon is of course the main ingredient but there is also carrot, Chinese cabbage, chicken, shrimp and other ingredients stewed together with the udon. The classic way of spending winter in Japan is by getting the whole family by a hotpot, so I recommend you all experience this by going to a udonsuki restaurant with your friends or family. I hope that you will get a chance to enjoy Japanese winter and hotpot with your family!
Mimiu is a famous restaurant that originated in Osaka that actually invented the dish udonsuki. They have restaurants mainly in the Kansai area of Japan. Mimiu is especially particular about their dashi broth. The dashi broth is made from carefully selected ingredients and made in limited quantities; this dashi is the deciding factor in the taste of the udonsuki. I feel like the udonsuki made from seasonal ingredients tastes even better if it is eaten with a group of people. Mimiu is a perfect restaurant for those moments when you want to enjoy eating out with your family or friends.
Nabeyakiudon is a type of hotpot where you can have a hotpot with udon, vegetables, egg, and have it all for yourself! Thus the main difference between udonsuki and nabeyakiudon is that nabeyakiudon is for one person only, one hotpot per one person. Let the hotpot simmer, then stop the heat, and eat straight from the hotpot. These are both winter classics, and indeed the author of this article also likes both of these dishes.
Fumiya has been a popular udon restaurant for a long time. Even today there is a line in front of the restaurant no matter whether it is a weekday or a holiday. Fumiya’s most popular item on the menu is Fumiya nabe hotpot. The hotpot is brought to your table bubbling hot, and then the restaurant staff open the lid on the hotpot and… puff… all this hot air comes out and the hotpot in front of you looks really delicious; this is something you have to experience. The gentle taste of Fumiya nabe will make you at ease, and charms you so that you will want to go again. This restaurant is my personal recommendation.
In this feature article I placed the spotlight on delicious soba and udon restaurants in Kyoto. Kyoto might have an image of boiled tofu and kaiseki cuisine, but actually there are really good soba and udon restaurants too, from the old and established to the cutting-edge newcomers. I hope that you have found a new side of Kyoto while reading this!

How about inserting this new Kyoto attraction, soba and udon, to your itinerary?

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