Five Select Shops in Nara for Outstanding Soba Noodles

Nara is known for udon noodles and chagayu tea porridge, but there are also many restaurants that serve tasty soba noodles. Here are five shops in Nara where you can enjoy outstanding soba noodles.

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1. Gen

This is a restaurant in an elegant shop built 90 years ago in Naramachi, an area with historic streets. The premium soba served here are outstanding, aromatic noodles that will impress the soba connoisseur. Soba noodles served at lunchtime include Seiro Soba (1,000 JPY (excl. tax)) and Inaka Soba (1,000 JPY (excl. tax)). There are only 40 servings available each day, so it is recommended to make reservations on the previous day. This restaurant also has a course menu called Soba Yuzen (10,952 JPY (excl. tax, incl. service)), which is available only in the evenings. This extravagant course, which includes soba tofu, soba soup, seiro soba, inaka soba, lotus root mochi with soba seeds covered in a starchy crab sauce, and Japanese amberjack grilled with coarsely ground buckwheat flour with a dengaku miso topping, must be reserved and is served only to two sets of guests per day.
*The content of Soba Yuzen changes by procurement and season.

2. Ichinyoan

At this restaurant, buckwheat from select regions is ground in-house and handmade into aromatic noodles that are dipped in a soft and elegant sweet and savory sauce that has the perfect balance of umami flavors and richness. Its basic Mori (1,000 JPY (excl. tax)) chilled noodles are simple yet luxurious. This restaurant is also known for its Shojin Buddhist cuisine made with traditional Yamato vegetables from Nara and fresh local vegetables. The lunchtime Hirunozen (5,000 JPY (excl. tax)) and dinnertime Yorunozen (7,000 JPY (excl. tax)), which include both soba noodles and Shojin cuisine, are outstanding courses that are both tasty and healthy.

3. Kitahara

This shop stands quietly near the famous Nara tourist destination of Todaiji Temple. The thin soba noodles that are made every morning by grinding the buckwheat in a stone mortar are aromatic and chewy and have a great texture. This restaurant is also known for its crisp tempura made with vegetables from Nara and carefully selected and prepared oils and batter, so the Tenzaru Soba with Vegetables and Shrimp (1,480 JPY) is recommended as a dish to enjoy both the soba and tempura. It is close not only to Todaiji Temple, but also to Kofukuji Temple and Isuien Garden, so stop by while seeing the sites in Nara.

4. Sakamoto

At this restaurant, you can enjoy soba noodles that are handmade every morning with buckwheat flour from Shinshu (present day Nagano), famous for its soba noodles, and Goro-goro fresh water from Tenkawa Village in Nara. The recommended menu item is the Sanshu Soba (1,000 JPY), which includes three soba noodles with different textures: "sarashina, "hikigurumi" and "inaka." This one item will stimulate your taste buds, sense of smell, and vision, all at the same time.

5. Sagami Nara Ekimae Branch

This restaurant is recommended for those who want to enjoy their soba noodles with a large group of friends. There is a wide selection of courses that include soba catered to a variety of situations, including the Utage Course (8,500 JPY (incl. tax)) and Irodori Course (10,500 JPY (incl. tax)) that are appropriate for groups of four to six, as well as the Sagami Course (3,300 JPY (incl. tax)/per person and up), that is perfect for parties. The soba noodles are aromatic noodles made by grinding buckwheat procured from select regions in-house, so the taste is guaranteed as well. The restaurant also has menu items such as zaru soba (770 JPY (excl. tax)) and Oebiten Nikunegi Soba (1,340 JPY (excl. tax)) with a large shrimp tempura and meat and scallions, so it is appropriate for those who just want to enjoy soba noodles as well.

5. Sagami Nara Ekimae Branch

Many people go to Nara for its historic temples. Soba noodles would be just the thing to enjoy for lunch while visiting such historic sites. Please try some of the restaurants introduced here.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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Writer: Arata Ishiko

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