Kyoto travels: noodling about with Ramen at Ippudo, Soba at Misoka-an and Udon at Omen
|Ippudo ramen, Kyoto
Ippudo - ramen
If you know noodles, you don't need me to explain Ippudo's fame - it has locations spread from NYC to Sydney. It opened in 1985 in Fukuoka and has gone on to conquer the world except, oddly enough, London. Word on the street is that it's finally planning to wipe the floor with the current crop of London pretenders in the near future. Ippudo's Kyoto location is a short walk from the end of the Nishiki market. We waited a brief time with a mix of tourists and locals before sharing a bench, ordering and tucking in.
|Ippudo ramen Kyoto:Akamura, Shiromaru, gyoza and self help condiments
The menu is in English and the staff are friendly, efficient and also speak English. True to its noodle personality, Ippudo is open late.
Misoka-an Kawamichi-ya - soba
A little tip about the soba specialists in Kyoto is that they close early. I planned to try Daikoku-ya, but it was closing up at 8.30pm when I dropped in despite being smack in the middle of the Pontocho entertainment district (Diane Durston's Old Kyoto book lists it as open until 11pm, but it's not). I guess it reflects that shy, retiring noodle personality I referred to.
|Misoka-an Kawamichi-ya - soba specialist Kyoto in a beautiful machiya
|Misoka-an: Shippoku soba noodles, soba-maki
Omen - udon
We missed the peak of cherry blossom season by about a week, but weren't too disappointed since the previous year we experienced the full blossoming in Tokyo. The Philosopher's Path is meant to be a stunning, if crowded, stroll at the peak of the season. We saw a few straggling trees with blossoms on the turn when we walked the stretch, but I was more looking forward to the udon noodles than the flowers.
|Omen udon: seasonal special udon, Nadai udon, sake, pickles.
My beautifully balanced broth came with all the fantastic spring vegetables that we saw in the various markets and on menus that week like shredded burdock and bamboo. The sakura ebi, baby shrimp, were flash fried and added to the broth along with spring onions and small sansho fronds with their peppery numbing impact. The noodles, of course, were excellent - firm yet bouncy and elastic without being chewy.
|Omen: Kyoto's best udon noodles
|Kyoto's Silver Pavilion. Serenity now.