Kyoto : Seven Bowls of Noodles

These ramen or noodle shops are just some of the places you can visit while visiting Kyoto. The city may be known for its elaborate kaiseki meals, vegetarian shojin or yudofu cuisine but it is also a home to many amazing ramen, soba and udon eateries!

Kyoto Ramen Street | 京都拉麺小路 : Hakata Ikkousha | 博多一幸舎
Similar to Singapore’s Ramen Champion outlets bringing together all the various kinds of ramen from Japan, Kyoto Station has a Ramen Street (拉麺小路) on the 10th floor which gathered eight ramen shops from Tokyo, Sapporo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hakata for you to enjoy. It is a convenient place to grab a quick ramen if you are at Kyoto Station.

My first meal at the Ramen Street was at Ikkousha, which is a Hakata-style ramen with a heavy and robust tonkotsu broth. The typical serving of ramen at Hakata Ikkousha, the Ikkousha Ajitama Ramen includes shoyu tamago, which are marinated eggs with a molten yolk, crunchy black fungus, spring onions and the essential slices of tender cha shu. The full set which comes with more slices of char shu would cost around 950 – 1050 JPY but the Ikkousha Ajitama Ramen with less cha shu would cost around 850 JPY.

Hakata Ikkousha is just one of the options available at the Ramen Street (拉麺小路).

Ramen Street (拉麺小路)

Honke Daiichi Takabashi Honten  | 本家 第一旭たかばし本店
Just round the corner of Kyoto Station, Honke Daiichi Takabashi Honten (本家 第一旭たかばし本店), located next to the more famous Shinpuku Saikan Honten (新福菜館 本店), a Kyoto ramen eatery dating back to the 1930s. Nonetheless, this ramen eatery still warrants a visit if you want a taste of Kyoto-style ramen early in the morning.

Compared to the thick, milky appearance of Hakata Ikkousha’s broth but the broth is slightly oily and more translucent Nonetheless, it is quite heavy with a stronger soy sauce flavour. A bowl of their Signature Ramen (特製ラーメン) cost about 850 Yen and seemed to be a favourite among the locals in the morning.

Kyoto Takabashi Honke Daiichi (京都 たかばし本 家第一旭)

Nagahama Ramen Miyoshi | 博多長浜ラーメン みよし
Another outlet that specializes in Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen is Nagahama Ramen Miyoshi, a ramen shop located opposite the TIMES building along Kiyamachi-dori designed by acclaimed architect, Tadao Ando.

A typical bowl of ramen here would cost about 600 Yen and comes with five slices of rather thickly cut char shu slices. The broth is very heavy, as expected of a Hakata-style ramen and very rich in flavour. The soup is slightly less salty when compared with Ikkousha’s. One of the perks of this ramen stall is the wide variety of toppings offered for the ramen such as red ginger, sesame seeds etc.

Nagahama Ramen Miyoshi (博多長浜ラーメン みよし)
京都府京都市中京区木屋町通三条下石屋町115 辻田ビル

Ten Ten Yu | 天天有
Ten Ten Yuu is another native ramen of Kyoto with Chinese influence with a long history. (There is also a similarly named ramen chain based in Kagoshima). The ramen shop begun business in 1971 (the 46th Year of the Showa Era) and its main shop is located in the Sakyo district of Kyoto around Ichijoji, a district known for its numerous ramen eateries. It has an outlet located within Karasuma Cocon, designed by famous architect, Kengo Kuma.

Ten Ten Yuu specializes in chicken ramen. Its broth was prepared with both chicken bones and vegetables. Surprisingly, the soup isn’t oily as I would expect for a broth with chicken and it is cloudy in appearance and slightly creamy in texture. It is also quite savoury and the classic bowl of Ten Ten Yuu ramen comes with chicken slices instead of the usual char shu.

Ten Ten Yuu | 天天有
京都市下京区水銀屋町620 COCON烏丸B1F

Ichijoji-Bogi | 一乗寺ブギー 
Ichijoji Area in the Sakyo district of Kyoto is a hidden gem for not only book lovers or café-hoppers but it is a haven for ramen-hopping (if there is such a term). One of the famous eateries is Ten Ten Yuu but if you do a quick search of ramen eateries in Kyoto, you would find many ramen eateries and some of the best is clustered around Ichijo-ji area.

Of the many ramen shops around Ichijo-ji area, we stumbled upon Ichijoji-Bogi (一乗寺ブギー) or Ichijoji-Boogie, a ramen shop that serves Tsukesoba (つけそば), soba noodles served with dipping broth). The broth here is a pork-based soy sauce ramen with a distinctly sharper flavour. While Tsukesoba maybe its speciality, you could also opt for other ramen like their Chinese Soba (中華そば) which is a bowl of noodles with springy Chinese style yellow noodles served in a rich and sharp broth made with pork and soy sauce.

While you are at Ichijoji area.......

While you are at Ichijoji area, do check out one of the top bookshops in the world recommended by Guardian, the Keibunsha Ichijoji Shop (恵文社一乗寺店), which also serves as one of the inspiration of local book shop, Grassroots Book Room in Singapore.

Ichijoji-Bogi (一乗寺ブギー)
〒606-8106 京都府京都市左京区高野玉岡町49-1 GREEN28-1F

Ichijoji Keibunsha Shop (恵文社一乗寺店)
〒606-8184 京都市左京区一乗寺払殿町10

Misoka-an Kawaramachiya | 晦庵 河道屋
So far all these bowls of noodles much have been quite heavy, if you are up for something lighter with a celebrity status in Kyoto, consider Misoka-an, a soba restaurant that is reputedly visited by the late Steve Jobs, a soba lover when he stayed in Kyoto.

 Misoka-an has a history of at least three centuries and one of its signature dishes is the Nishin Soba (にしんそば, 1200 JPY) which is soba noodles served in a savoury herring broth topped with a sweet-tasting braised preserved Kyoto herring.

Besides the noodles, the Misoka-an Kawamichiya itself is quite a sight, housed in a quaint traditional Japanese townhouse with a courtyard garden. The setting itself is worth a visit.

Misoka-an Kawamichiya (晦庵 河道屋)
〒604-8085 京都市中京区麩屋町通三条上ル

Menya Inoichi | 麺屋 猪一
Located along Teramach-dori south of Shijo-dori is another highly-rated ramen shop that offers a lighter alternative of the usual heavy-tasting ramen dishes. Offering a choice of black or white broth, the lighter option will be white or shiro broth, a refined, light tasting broth. I had the Shina Soba Shiro (支那そば , 700 JPY) a signature ramen with a clear-looking broth which comes with thickly cut char siu slices, shoyu-tamago and crunchy bamboo shoots.

While the broth might look rather clear, it is still rather flavourful with depth yet doesn’t overwhelm like the heavier, milky or cloudy looking soup bases found in Hakata Ikkousha or Ten Ten Yuu.

Most fascinating is the use of yuzu and toppings of tororo seaweed which adds a rather interesting dimension to the whole experience of savouring this ramen. One of the chefs working at Inoichi used to reside in Singapore.

Menya Inoichi (麺屋 猪一)

Other places that has been recommended to me or has a long history include Omen (おめん) and Gontaro (権太呂) which specializes in noodle dishes such as udon or soba. Another ramen restaurant that most people would visit on their visit to Kyoto is Gogyo (五行), which is known for its "Burnt Ramen". You can read about Gogyo on many blogs and travel articles such as DanielFoodDiary and Weekend Cheoks.

You could also find chain ramen restaurants like Ippudo (一風堂), Santouka (山頭火) or Ichiran (一蘭) in Kyoto as well.

Happy Eating in Kyoto!


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