Yoshimura Kiyomizu-an @ Kyoto

Three things you have to eat in Kyoto –  macha-flavoured stuff, tofu and soba. You can get all three in Arashiyama, but the place to have your soba fix is at Kiyomizu.

Soba is one of Japan’s delectable noodle dishes made from buckwheat. Depending on the season, it’s usually served inside a broth of dashi (fish stock from bonito) during winter and on a cooled plate or zaru (bamboo sieve) during the summer.

Zaru Soba is the most basic kind of chilled soba served on a tray with a simple chilled dipping sauce (tsuyu) served on the side. The dipping sauce is usually a mixture of soup stock, water and mirin.

Soba buckwheat noodles for adults

Yoshimura よしむら is a modern-style soba restaurant that takes pride in making their noodles by hand. Originated at Arashiyama (western suburb of Kyoto), Yoshimura now has a factory at Gojo/Karasuam. Get a first hand look at how they make their hand-made noodles at the Gojo/Karasuma location, both a restaurant and soba factory.

But the Kiyomizuan shop is the place to be. A dignified and large Japanese estate from the Taisho period (1912-1926) stands in a huge site (about 500 square meters). The beautiful Higashiyama mountain ridge is visible from one of the windows. Yoshimura uses only Japanese buckwheat for their soba noodles. The noodles are made by hand at Gojo. Their noodles are very aromatic which is a proof of their freshness. They provide not only noodles but also original sweet menu items using the buckwheat including sweet soba dumplings, bavarois, and galettes. This is a nice break spot for both lunch and tea.

How to Enjoy Zaru Soba like a true Japanese

The first thing to do with cold soba is it taste it to judge the flavors. Try a little sip of the tsuyu dipping sauce to assess strength, sweetness and saltiness levels. Taste a bit of the soba noodles.

Next, mix some of the green onions and wasabi into the dipping sauce. Then take a few strands of soba noodles and dip them into the sauce before eating them. Bring the dipping cup (sobawan) up to your face to eat. This is not only polite, but also keeps the dipping sauce from dripping onto your table or clothes.

Use your chopsticks to lead the noodles into your mouth while making a slurping sound. The slurping enhances the flavours and helps cool down the noodles as they enter your mouth if you are eating hot soba.

Avoid dunking tempura or anything aside from noodles into the tsuyu dipping sauce, as you drink this as tea afterwards. If you’re eating tororo soba, however, the tororo can be dipped into the tsuyu before picking up a mouthful of noodles.

Some soba restaurants will give you a little teapot towards the end of the meal that is filled with what looks like hot cloudy water. This is sobayu, the water that the soba noodles were cooked in. Sobayu is meant to be poured into your remaining dipping sauce after you have finished your noodles. This is how you can finish your dipping sauce by drinking this mixture and adjusting the amount of sobayu as you prefer.

One more thing that you can usually enjoy. Pour the sobaya (sobayu + tsuyu) to the rice, add the sichimi 七味粉, and enjoy a porridge.

Soba is more than a healthy and affordable Japanese meal; it is also a great chance to try a traditional Japanese washoku food that is still very much a part of everyday cuisine.

Yoshimura Kiyomizu-an
よしむら清水庵 蕎麥麵
Japan, 〒605-0862 京都府京都市東山区 清水2-208-9

Tel : +81 75-533-1212

Date Visited : Jul 2017


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