Owariya (est. 1465), Kyoto’s oldest soba restaurant, started off as a confectionary. When soba, a Chinese import, was brought back to Japan by Zen Buddhist trainee monks, the noodle in question became so popular that the temples could not keep up with the demand.
Hence, confectionary shops - with their kneading, rolling & cutting facilities, began to produce and supply soba to the temples and also to satisfy the market demand. Owariya started producing soba and supplying the temples in the 1700s, and was so good at it that it was later accredited as a “goyo-soba-tsukasa” - official purveyor of soba noodles to the Royal Household.
Owariya is today run by the 15th-generation owners of the family who started it. Their soba today, made of buckwheat flour from a single source in Otoineppu, Hokkaido - has an utterly amazing texture.
I had the Rikyu Soba this afternoon - kake soba (buckwheat noodles) in hot broth with Rikyu-fu (wheat gluten similar to Chinese tofu-puffs), Mitsuba (Japanese parsley) and Yuba (tofu skin), scented with yuzu citrus peel. The noodles were unparalleled.
Other dishes I order from their menu were pretty average: tempura chirashi (with shrimps, pumpkin, green pepper, eggplant, shitake mushroom and laver) and Kyo-dashimaki (Kyoto-style layered omelette).
Come here for the soba, and nothing else - best ever!
Honke Owariya (尾張屋)
〒604-0841 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto
Operating hours: 11am-7pm daily