Udon (a type of noodle made from wheat flour) is one of Japan’s most beloved foods. There have been a lot of udon shops in Kyoto since ancient times. Here are five of those shops, from long-established shops to newer ones.
1. Kouan Kyoto Ekimae branch
Kouan is a restaurant where you can enjoy udon set meals for lunch, and udon and kyo-obanzai (side dishes usually served in Kyoto households) for dinner. Kyoto-style hosomen (thin noodles) are characterized by their moderate hardness and for going down smoothly when you slurp them. The hearty lunch is particularly recommended here. This restaurant only serves set meals that come with udon, small bowls of side dishes, rice and pickled vegetables. You can also get free rice refills and request large udon servings. They have a wide array of dishes that will whet your appetite, including the fried chicken and udon set (950 JPY (incl. tax)) and tonkatsu fried pork filet and udon set (950 JPY (incl. tax)). In any case, Kouan is the perfect spot for those who want to eat a lot.
Located very close to Kyoto Station, Tengu is a restaurant with only counter seats available that has long been loved by the locals. Aside from udon, they also serve soba (buckwheat noodles) and donburi (rice bowl topped with ingredients). One of the secrets to its popularity is its affordable prices, with virtually all dishes on the menu costing less than 500 yen each. Their most popular dish is the curry udon (390 JPY), soft udon in a spicy curry soup with the rich taste of dashi broth. The soup is so good you'll want to drink to the last drop, so it's highly recommended to add an order of rice (150 JPY for regular size, 110 JPY for small) and eat the rice with the remainder of the soup.
Chikaramochi is a long-established restaurant with a history that dates back to 1924. They take pride in their chewy udon that uses flour from Hokkaido, as well as in its soup stock that is made from premium konbu kelp and bonito flakes. This restaurant mainly serves udon, but its menu is also filled with a wide variety of donburi and set meals such as the tempura set (1,260 JPY) that contains tempura, udon and rice. Crispy tempura is usually eaten with rice, but pairing it with chewy udon that is as fresh as possible will also be sufficiently filling. This restaurant is perfect for those who do not have much time to spare but want to have a proper Japanese meal.
4. Men iroiro Itsudemo oyatsu Kyoto
This is a rather unique restaurant that mainly serves udon, pasta, and small plates. There are various sauces available and you can choose between udon and pasta. You can enjoy extraordinarily delicious flavors when you match udon with the thick-sliced bacon carbonara (1,380 JPY (excl. tax)), small shrimp and scallops ina tomato cream sauce (1,580 JPY (excl. tax)) as well as plenty of other sauces, that go great with pasta. These dishes are served in a set with several kinds of small snacks and kyobancha (a dark brown tea often drunk in Kyoto homes). There are also a la carte desserts such as chiffon cake, so this restaurant also feels like a cafe.
5. Men-Zanmai Kintetsu Kyoto Branch
Men-Zanmai is a restaurant inside Kyoto Station where you can eat udon, soba, and ramen. It is easily accessible and its prices are reasonable, so its convenience is quite popular among local businessmen and travelers. This shop is also famous for its Ise udon (300 JPY (incl. tax)), made with soft thick noodles from Ise in a strong soy sauce-based soup. While the Ise udon would be enjoyed by people who like a salty-sweet flavor, the best deal that you can enjoy in this restaurant is the 200 JPY udon with broth or the fresh soba from 7:00 am until 10:00 am. You'll be speechless thanks to the voluminous dishes filled with tenkasu (crunchy bits of deep-fried tempura batter) and green onions. Men-Zanmai is also recommended for breakfast.
5. Men-Zanmai Kintetsu Kyoto Branch
Udon, which is easy on the stomach and can be eaten quickly, is a dish that is perfect during activity-filled sightseeing trips. So if you go to Kyoto, recharge your power with the town’s delicious udon.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.