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Archive for August, 2007

Isshindo Soba (一神堂そば)Isshindo is a very small, outdoor yatai (stall) style restaurant with the atmosphere of the ubiquitous yatai of Japan common near train stations at night catering to commuters on their way home for a quick meal. Isshindo adds just the right amount of style and sophistication to the dining experience.Isshindo is actually enclosed by a wooden fence but has no roof over the seating area. On rainy days an awning is deployed which fully protects patrons from the rain. Depending on the season, there is a roaring air conditioner or gas heater ameliorating temperature extremes.Isshindo seats only about 12 people and has a very friendly, neighborhood atmosphere. The staff, while frantically preparing orders are always very friendly.Isshindo’s menu is minimal with several signature ramen dishes, well worth the venture a few blocks up north from the city center and just about a five minute walk down from Kyoto Gosho (the Imperial Palace).Isshindo refers to it’s ramen as ‘soba’ which is not unusual though most Japanese these days think of ramen as ‘ramen‘ and soba as ‘soba‘ (Japanese buckwheat noodles).Like many noodle shops, you can specify how your noodles are to be cooked; al dente, regular or soft.Isshindo features two types of ramen soup base; tonkotsu (pork bone) and torigara (chicken bones).Isshindo Soba (一神堂そば)isshindosoba.jpgThis dish is the famous of Isshindo. It features a garnish of scallions, zha cai (Chinese pickle, zasai in Japanese), and topped with short-necked clams. Shellfish and ramen is a shocking combination, unimaginable in Kyoto.The soup base is a combination of pork and chicken stock.Isshindo Soba is a must try, a ‘9’.isshindosoba_detail.jpgIsshindo Soba, detail, clams and zha cai (and a little chashu)isshindosoba_kaidama.jpgIsshindo Soba, kaedama (a second helping of noodles)Chuka Soba (中華そば)chukasoba.jpgChuka Soba, literally, ‘Chinese soba’.The soup is a combinations of pork and chicken stock and shoyu (soy sauce), and a simple garnish of menma (fermented bamboo shoot), scallion, chashu (roasted pork) and paprika.This dish is slightly richer than Isshindo Soba, a more typical ramen appealing to patrons that want a standard ramen, but with a Isshindo twist.Isshindo’s Chuka Soba is a ‘7’.ppb:Isshindo is one of my all-time favorite ramen shops. I only order the Isshindo Soba, often with mentaiko gohan, which is pretty good, though I am not much of a fan of mentaiko.Isshindo Soba like all ramen is a richly flavored dish, but it is not over bearing. Combining several ingredients unusual to ramen such as clams and zha cai with Kyoto scallions, coarsely sliced to produce a ramen unlike any other.mmb:I like that additional garnish on the ramen dishes, such as additional chashu, which is great when I am in the mood for a rich and meaty dinner. Great on a winter evening!no web siteno English menu一神堂そば、京都

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Takaraya (ramen) [宝屋]

Takaraya (宝屋) features several dishes that are very ‘Kyoto’ in style and taste. The cuisine of Kyoto features subtly complex and sophisticated flavors. To the sensibilities of the ancient capital, the more understated, the better. Typically, ramen is anything but subtle. This makes Takaraya quite a novelty and a must for any ramen connoisseur or visiting gourmet.

Sumashi Ramen (すましラーメン):takaraya_ramen_sumashiramen.jpgTakaraya’s sumashi ramen is a masterpiece, completely original, yet completely ‘ramen’. Completely ‘Kyoto’, Japanese ramen is typically overbearing; rich and heavy. The garnishes are unheard of. Deep-fried gobo (burdock root), mozzarella cheese! Unbelievable!

main ingredients: chicken soup base, slightly flat egg ramen noodles, chicken dango (meatballs) mozzarella cheese, aona (greens), cabbage garnished with thick sliced bacon and pepper sesame.

Takaraya’s sumashi ramen is a ‘10’.

Tamago kake gohan (出町の玉子かけご飯)
(Rice topped with raw egg)takaraya_ramen_tamagokakegoha.jpgUsually, rice with raw egg is served at breakfast, a simple dish with just a dash of shoyu (soy sauce). Takaraya’s tamago kake gohan is another masterpiece. Imaginatively garnished not with shoyu, but shio konbu (salted kelp, steeped in shoyu). First the egg is mixed into the rice, which is piping hot. The egg is not exactly cooked, but neither is it raw. Then sprinkle on the shio kombu and mix some more. Place a slice of cucumber atop the rice, blanket with a sheet of nori and scoop up a mouthful.

Takaraya’s tamago kake gohan is an ‘8.5’.

Toroniku chashumen (トロ肉チャーシューメン)takaraya_ramen_toronikuchashu.jpgShimofuri (sprinkled with frost) pork. Toro, is a reference to the most luxurious ‘fatty tuna’. Out of an entire hog, only 1 kilo of the Takaya’s toroniku chashu can be harvested. The thinly sliced chashu is soft, it nearly melts in your mouth. It is fatty, but not overwhelmingly rich.

Toruniku chashumen is offered with spicy miso, at no extra cost. (It isn’t really that spicy, don’t shy away from this unique garnish.)

Takaraya’s toruniku chashumen is a ‘7.

About Takaraya ramen noodles and eggs:
The wheat is grown and milled in Nagano Prefecture. The eggs used for the Takaraya ramen noodles and tamago kake gohan (rice with raw egg) contains no artificial or chemical additives. The chickens are fed a natural diet of rice bran, fish bones, corn and soybeans.Raw egg accompanies many dishes in Japan and is safe to eat (whether it agrees with you or not is another matter).

Miwa: I am always surprised to when I enter the shop as there are usually young couples and often foreign travelers. The typical ramen shops are patronized by salarymen grabbing quick and late dinner on the way home. Takaraya has a great, modern atmosphere. I always feel like I want to go back soon. Takaraya serves cold tea, rather than ice water. Thanks!

swt: Ramen is actually not a favorite dish of mine. I wouldn’t touch it for many years. If I am going to eat ramen, it had better be damn good. I have eaten at Takaraya about once a week for the last year and a half. I only order sumashi ramen, usually accompanied by tamago kake gohan. I love it!For a quick, reasonably priced, and pretty healthy dinner, Takaraya is a five star choice in my book.The service is excellent. The staff are friendly and well mannered. Overall the atmosphere and dining experience is excellent.

Criticism: gyoza (pot stickers) are run -of -the-mill. By no means bad, just not to the level of the other dishes.

About raw and undercooked eggs: In the years I have been in Japan, I suppose that I have eaten more than a thousand raw or undercooked eggs. I have gotten sick once and the culprit *might* have been raw egg. Some prudent folks avoid raw egg in the summer. You certainly wouldn’t want to ruin a trip to a far away land like Japan with a tummy ache, but neither would you want to miss out on some local delicacies enjoyed by the natives either. In the end, you’ll have to consider your own constitution and decide for yourself.

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takaraya website (Japanese language only)

宝屋ラーメン京都

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The purpose of this blog is to tell the world about the great meals available in this town, Kyoto.

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