28 April, 2009

Oishii Japan Series Part 4 - Ukiya Soba @ Kyoto

A 2 hour-plus ride on the shinkansen, or bullet train took us from Tokyo all the way to Kyoto, formerly the imperial capital of Japan.

One of the best-preserved cities of Japan, Kyoto has over 2,000 Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.

Among the most famous temples in Japan is Kiyomizu-dera, a magnificent wooden temple supported by pillars off the slope of a mountain, where not one nail was used in the whole structure.

However, before making our pilgrimage up the hill we were advised to make a detour to one of the many streets that slope down, for Kyoto's Ramen or Udon. But being a Sunday, the streets were choked full of people all holed up along the narrow path as such, we settled at one seemingly not so crowded restaurant. Much to our delight, it was a hidden gem known as the Ukiya Buckwheat Noodle Restaurant.

HFB loves buckwheat noodles, or zaru-soba as the Japanese affectionately known, and it's one of those limited dishes that he is willing to partake it cold. Started since 1929, Ukiya has a history of churning out handmade soba (sorta reminds me of 大吃の喜 - Tai Shek Hei’s Bamboo Noodles), so it is not surprising that HFB ordered the Zaru-soba with Nori, or Plain Buckwheat Noodles with Cold Dip and Dried Seaweed (JPY950 ~ SGD15) and the Ten-Zaru, or Zaru-soba with Tempura (JPY1,380 ~ SGD21.50).

The tempura was good, but nothing amazing compared to Tempura Daikokuya.

The unique silky texture of the handmade soba was a sky-high difference to the pre-made factory packs that we are familiar with. Coupled with a dip of the Japanese Leeks, Wasabi and Dashi combination, the soba was so delicious that HFB didn't hesitate to slurp it up nosily as a sign of approval and recognition to the chef who made it.

Interestingly, the restaurant served us a pot of Soba-yu, or a pot of water that the soba was cooked in.

The staff instructed us that once we are done with the soba, we are to pour the soba-yu into the dashi and consume it! It is said that the soup contains many nutrients, for many of the soba's nutritious ingredients are water-soluable, and dissolved into the water when cooked. Although the drawback was that the murky residues from the dashi made the mixture seemingly undrinkable, it tasted really hearty and delectable.

With that, we made our way up the mountain and it was there at the temple that HFB snapped his favourite photo of the trip!

Food: 4.75/5 (Best Zaru-soba EVER!)
Service: 4/5 (Staff was patience in explaining how to consume the soba-yu)
Ambience: 3/5 (Cramped, and they allow diners to smoke within)
Price: 4/5 (Definitely money well spent!)
Total: 15.75/20
Shimizu-ku Higashiyama-ku
3 Chome 334
Kyoto Japan

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Jessen said...

Oh gosh! Japanese food!!!! I'm getting hungry already...

Scenes in Singapore life said...

nice series...thanks for blogging.

As I understand it, soba-yu is commonly served at soba-ya in Japan...I have been served this even in small soba shops in Tokyo for their budget lunches.

Anonymous said...

soba-yu is served in shimbashi soba in singapore.

His Food Blog said...

Jessen: Haha, your excitement is making me hungry too!!

P. Chong: My pleasure! Agree, And I would really love to see more of our local restaurant practising that.

Anon 09:48: Excellent! I should make a trip there soon.

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