Udon is one of Japan’s most well-loved noodles dishes, ranking in line with soba and ramen. Everyone has an opinion over which is the tastiest, but those who like a bit of girth in their noodles will probably go for udon, which are traditionally rolled thicker than other Japanese noodles.
If you really want something to chew on, Tawaraya, an established noodle house in Kyoto, makes udon noodles so thick that only one fits inside the bowl.
Our resident foodie, Kuzo, recently took a train out to the ancient capital to try Tawaraya’s udon for himself. Check out his report below!
Like many traditional noodle shops in Japan, Tawaraya makes a fresh batch of noodles early each morning and uses them throughout the day. Since Tawaraya holds a reputation in Kyoto, they will sometimes sell out before the end of the day, so it’s recommended to make a reservation if you don’t want to be turned away with an empty stomach.
Having made my reservation, I showed up at Tawaraya and was served a bowl of udon noodle longer and thicker than anything I had ever seen before.
Picking it up in my chopsticks, I also noticed it was incredibly firm. I imagine these noodles are boiled this way intentionally to keep them from becoming too soft and falling apart.
I lifted the noodle out of the soup and found that I could bring it over my head without the other end leaving the bowl!
The taste was very similar to the flour dumplings in suiton or dango-jiru. It was incredibly chewy and the flavor spread through my mouth the more I worked at it. The soup was very simple and only lightly seasoned which, though a well-known characteristic of traditional Kyoto cuisine, may leave some people wanting more.
Tawaraya is located near the Kitano Tengu-mae bus stop, accessible by buses 50 or 101 from Kyoto station (check map here). They also have an English menu, suggesting they get a number of foreign customers as well.
Store name: Tawaraya
Address: 918, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto
Hours: 11:00-16:00, closed Tuesdays
[ Read in Japanese ]