Aug 11, 2010

The Asia Trip: Udon in Kyoto

Outside the udon shop in Kyoto
While in Kyoto we stopped by this udon joint for some cheap eats. Udon is a fairly thick wheat-flour noodle that is typically served hot in a soupy soy sauce broth. This particular place was found on the main thoroughfare in Kyoto.

It was quite the bustling business inside, with a quick turnover and a revolving clientèle. Seriously, Japanese people slurp up these noodles as if they weren't mouth-burning boiling hot. They don't just eat it hot, they eat it fast. Like Hoover-fast. They do this with ramen as well. Udon tends to be cheaper than ramen though.
Udon making machine
Stepping inside, reveal this automatic udon noodle making machine. Not as impressive as hand-made (seriously, watching someone pull noodles by hand is mind-bottling! See Ricky Bobby.), but hey, it's fresh!
Udon chef boiling noodles
I haven't seen an entire restaurant dedicated to udon here in the States. At least not like this. The chefs cook the noodles inside what appear to be large fishing nets. I don't know if the twisting of the net is purposeful but, I'm not a master udon chef.
A nice selection of tempura for your udon
After you get your bowl of udon which regardless of what choice you pick is broth and noodles to be garnished with you choice of add-on tempura which included shrimp, chicken, and various veggies all around the 100 yen range.
All-you-can-scoop tempura bits and green onions
After picking your tempura (I selected a piece of chicken and a large Japanese potato slice), you can pile on the green onions, and tempura bits free-of-charge.
My masterpiece udon bowl!
Voila! My udon masterpiece! It was one of my favorite (and cheapest) meals in Japan. The price came out to about $5 for my bowl.
Udon in a nifty wooden tub
My cousin's wife, got her udon in a wooden tub which is a nice aesthetic. I initially thought only the presentation was different, but the udon here is actually just floating in water. The broth is served on the side for dipping along with ginger and salt(?) for seasoning. She also got tempura sausages!


  1. Back in Tokyo I love to go to the udon chain called Hanamaru udon, it's basically the exact same thing as this one except looking much less old school. Love their cheap 100-200 yen plain udon!

  2. I like your review. I am not a big noodle I'm not sure if I would eat this...however, since I left my husband, I have been trying new things. Since I'm "allowed" to now. Maybe if I ever come across this item in Las Vegas, NV, USA I'll try it. But tell me, what makes it tasty? Oh and I do love Tempura items...does that potato taste like an Idaho potato would?

  3. Hm... a fair number of Japanese restaurants usually have an udon dish or two so I'm sure you can find it in one form or another in Vegas. I actually came across a udon shop in the OC today though... and they made their own noodles plus they fried up some fresh tempura for me!

    As for what makes it tasty, it's a light, but flavorful broth that's not too salty or rich and compliments the noodles well. As for the potato, I think it was a type of sweet potato but just slightly, so not really like your typical Idaho.

  4. Kyoto has the old school look down! Kinda feels like another time. I think this place was maybe 280 for plain udon medium-sized.

  5. Wandering ChopsticksSunday, January 22, 2012

    When I used to work down the street from the Shin-Sen-Gumi in Fountain Valley, I used to go every week. The robata side was dedicated to udon during lunch and had great specials with rice and chicken meatballs and iced tea for $6? I remember it as less than $8 because it was sooo absurdly cheap for the quality and amount of food.

    PS It's mind-boggling.

  6. I found a place in Fountain Valley that makes their own udon and sells it for 3-some with two pieces of vegetable tempura. It was pretty good!

    P.S. It's a pop reference. I'm aware that mind-boggling is the common usage.

  7. There is a restaurant almost exactly like this in Waikiki called Marukame Udon. Delicious and cheap but usually a long wait at peak times.

  8. Peak times means more turnover and fresh-cooked food though! I found a similar place here in southern California too!


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