“Aren’t you sick of Kyoto?”
Whenever a friend heard that I returned to Kyoto countless times, they were shocked by the fact that I do not get sick of this mysterious city with its many layers that unravel over time. My mum suspects I have a girlfriend in Kyoto.
Perhaps it was the language barrier or the sentimental value that few over time with my multiple visits to Kyoto that kept me going back again and again. The latest trip brought another round of fresh discoveries, it could be a new food encounter, a new perspective or a hidden find as one roam around this city filled with surprises.
One such find was Keibunsha Ichijoji, recommended by Jen Erh of the historic Grassroots Book Room at Bukit Pasoh and then there was Misoko-an, rumoured to be a favourite soba spot (according to a couple of Japanese sites and residents in Kyoto) for the late Steve Jobs (スティーブ・ジョブズ), a soba-lover and frequent guest at the centuries-old Tawaraya Ryokan nearby.
Misoka-an Kawamichiya (晦庵 河道屋) is not just any soba eatery, this soba restaurant is as old as Tawaraya Ryokan, with a history dating back to three centuries and specialized in a special dish known as Hokoro, a hot pot dish which is rather pricey for budget-conscious travellers like me. However, one could still taste a Kyoto speciality at Misoka-an and experience the quaint cosy interiors that transports you back in time, a cliché description for many places in Kyoto but yet so true).
This Kyoto speciality is the Nishin Soba (にしんそば, 1200 JPY), soba noodles served in a hot, savoury herring broth along with a braised, preserved Kyoto herring that is sweet to taste. The mix of savoury and sweet flavours might come as strange for some but to me, it was an interesting combination.
I had another speciality of Misoka-an Kawamichiya, a Kamo Namba Soba (鴨なんば, 980 JPY) which is a hot soba dish served in a light, refined broth in contrast to the more flavourful Nishin Soba. It was topped with chunks of tender duck meat.
Misoka-an Kawamichiya is located in the culturally vibrant Sanjo area of Nakagyō-ku between Aneyakoji-dori and Sanjo-dori, along Fuyacho-dori.