May 25,2018 Ukiya: a restaurant that satisfies every customer with delicious dishes
Udon (wheat flour noodle) and soba (buckwheat noodle) are two of Japan’s main noodle dishes, and it is often said that the Kansai region has delicious udon, and Kanto boasts of delicious soba. Do I have to travel to Kanto to enjoy delicious soba? When I was thinking about this, I heard the news of a traditional restaurant serving superb soba in Kyoto. That restaurant is Ukiya, which has been making soba since 1929.
The restaurant has a calm atmosphere in a chic color. Seeing the signatures of geiko and maiko on the walls, my heart starts to fill with expectation. What should I eat? I gaze at the menu, and an unfamiliar image catches my eyes. Uki Soba. As the name suggests, it’s an original Ukiya soba. This is a rare chance, so I decide to order it. There are both hot and cold variations of the soba, and I decide to try the cold soba after considering the heat outside.
Uki soba, ￥990 (including tax)
The moment I taste the soba, the aroma of the soup stock wafts over. An egg, beaten creamily, is placed on top. The leek has a refreshing scent, and the tempura crumbs boast a crunchy texture. The natto (fermented soybeans) is chewy, but the unique scent of natto itself is restrained, and the essence of the soybean can be tasted. The thin soba noodles are soft and chewy and easy to eat. After slowly savoring the taste, I swallow the soba. I feel keenly that it tastes really good.
The taste of each individual ingredient is enhanced. However, nothing overpowers the others; they all work together to support the taste of the soba. I see. This is what incredibly delicious soba tastes like.
Ukiya has a few other stores both in and out of Kyoto. All of them are well-established restaurants, with artisans fastidiously making zaru and seiro soba (cold soba served on a bamboo sieve or on a bamboo steamer) by hand. As a result, even though the restaurants all belong to the Ukiya brand, there is a subtle difference in the taste and texture depending on the store. Ukiya’s owner is a recipient of the Medal With Yellow Ribbon, which is an award that only artisans with a high level of skill can receive. Consequently, all employees are put through strict checks to ensure that only the best artisans can make soba here.
However, the difference is not only the soba itself. Each restaurant has a different interior, and at first sight they may seem like completely different restaurants. Perhaps this is from the concept of wanting each customer to discover a restaurant that they love.
(The soba artisan of Ukiya, Ponto-cho Honten: Yoshisuke Ito)
Mr. Ito hopes that customers will be able to taste the soup stock in the hot soba, and the soba noodles themselves in the cold soba. Ukiya also sells homemade soba to go, which is recommended as a souvenir for those who have come from afar.
In the calm atmosphere, I savor this top-class soba. My stomach and heart will be filled with a feeling of satisfaction.
Left; interior (basement)
Right; first floor
- Ukiya Ponto-cho Honten
125 Ishiya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
*Other restaurants in/out of Kyoto
Hours: 11:30am-4pm, 5pm-8:30pm
Price: From around ￥1,000
Access: A few minutes’ walk from Sanjo station on the Keihan line
or Sanjo Keihan station on the Tozai subway line
Smoking: Smoking and non-smoking areas
English menu available
Wi-Fi: To be confirmed
The information is current as of May 2018.