Enjoy the diverse world of soba across from the lush Kyoto botanical gardens
Situated on the chic, upper-class street of Kitayama-dori, “Zingrock” is where both soba fanatics and masters alike flock.
The reason so many converge on this restaurant is owner Sugibayashi’s deep and undying obsession with these buckwheat derived noodles.
Generally, soba noodles are made from preprocessed buckwheat flour; however, not in Sugibayashi’s case. This obsessive restaurant owner wouldn’t rest until he scoured the soba fields of Japan, from the northern region of Hokkaido to the southern tip of Kagoshima, to taste, see and choose the buckwheat seeds he’d eventually use in his restaurant for himself.
Sugibayashi doesn’t just visit these fields for the sake of buying the seeds; he goes with the intention of sitting down with the farmers and discussing what needs to be done to get an even better tasting crop next year.
As we talked to him, Sugibayashi told us, “There are two things crucial in (the making of) soba; the water, and the ground.”
At Zingrock they preserve the soba seeds at a low temperature and ripen them themselves. When needed, they peal only the required amount and spend the next few hours using a traditional Japanese stone mill to grind them. Paying close attention to the weight of the mill, the depth of the drain, and the speed and amount to which the seeds are dropping, Zingrock slowly work to grind out the absolute most fragrant buckwheat flour they can. In combination with this, they also spend hours purifying water scooped from within the mountains.
These two processes give birth to a vibrant and mildly-fragrant unique 100%-buckwheat soba.
Zingrock always offer three varieties of soba from differing farms and change the soba used each day depending on the menu and circumstances of that specific day.
The Dashi stock used as the base for the Tsuyu noodle dipping sauce also uses an in-house blend of three differing varieties of bonito flake. Zingrock keep a careful eye on the stock and alter the how long the bonito flakes are in there depending on how it looks.
We highly recommend anyone who has ever enjoyed soba noodles to come and experience the authentic flavors provided at Zingrock for themselves.
/ Regular: ￥1,300 | Large: ￥1,600 | Extra-large: ￥1,900 (Inc. Tax)
Zingrock’s Soba-Samadhi is a soba tasting set comprised of three different soba noodles, each from differing farms.
The soba offered differ depending on the season and purchase status of the buckwheat seeds, so you never know what three you’ll get until you get there.
The noodles are severed one at a time, and in addition to comparing the color, thickness, smoothness, and roughness of the noodles, you can also enjoy the diverse ways in which they are presented to you as well.
The first thing you’ll notice when you taste each soba is their unique aroma and palate covering flavors. You’ll also notice the differences in textures, after-tastes, and even how each different variety slides down your throat; this tasting set truly provides a full course meal with every mouthful.
Find the perfect soba for you amongst the different displays of unique noodles made possible by owner Sugibayashi’s unrelenting obsession.
/ ￥1,500 (Inc. Tax)
Nishin-soba is owner Sugibayashi’s top recommendation.
This dish is a well known Kyoto style of soba and is often eaten by locals over the new years.
The first thing that’s sure to catch your eye is the Nishin pacific herring that lies smack dab in the middle of your bowl. After close to 100 hours over the heat, this piece of pacific herring is so soft is falls apart when you pick it up with your chopsticks.
When you try a piece of the fish with a few of the soba noodles, you’ll instantly be invited to a world of juicy, soy sauce flavors as they burst forth from out of the fish.
The oil from the herring adds an extra layer of rich umami to the bonito broth, making for an even deeper, more flavorful broth.
Zingrock’s Nishin-soba is highly recommended to anyone who has tried this variety of soba in Kyoto before.
/ ￥700(Inc. Tax)
Traditionally Sobagaki is a mochi-like substance made from kneading soba flour and boiling water; however, at Zingrock, they replace the boiling water with the broth from the noodle boiler. Kneaded by the skillful, rhythmical hands of owner Sugibayashi, Zingrock’s Sobagaki comes with sides of wasabi, salt, and a light tsuyu dipping sauce.
This sobagaki is so utterly refined and complete that you’ll find yourself agreeing with the sentiments of the owner that everyone should just enjoy it on its own.
/ ￥1400 (Inc. Tax)
Zingrock’s Sudachi Soba is a summer exclusive available from June.
With its beautiful layer of Tokushima prefecture grown sudachi and refreshing citrus aromas, this bowl of soba will have your stomach rumbling from the moment its brought in front of you.
As the dashi broth is poured over the sliced sudachi, it itself also contains the unmistakable citrus acidity found in sudachi.
With their firm, chewy, yet still easy to slurp down texture, the cold soba noodles are simply irresistible.
As you work your way to the bottom of the bowl, the mild bitterness of the sudachi begin to make itself apparent, giving the dish an entirely new and different flavor.