The Hottest Ramen Noodles in Kyoto

August 6, 2018

by Kensei Iizuka, Yuta Kobayashi, Takanori Tsuhako

As you know, there is a lot of delicious food in Kyoto. In this article, we are going to tell you about the noodles. Kyoto, especially Kyoto City, is one of the most famous places for noodles in Japan. That is why there are a lot of great noodle restaurants here. In this article, we will introduce you to Menya-Kirameki: a really famous noodle restaurant on Kyoto Sanjo and part of the Kirameki chain of noodle restaurants in Kyoto. We will introduce other Kirameki restaurants at the end of this article. If you want to get more information about the Kirameki Group, please check them out.

Menya-Kirameki Kyoto Sanjo 

Taiwanese Spicy Soupless Noodles

The most famous noodle dish in Kirameki is their Taiwanese Soupless Noodles. This dish was born in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture in 2008. It was created from meals that were prepared for the staff of a Taiwanese restaurant in Nagoya. The Taiwanese owner used to serve these soupless noodles only for his employees until one day a customer saw them and asked him to put it on the regular menu. The owner tried to add some spices to make it tastier because it was a simple dish compared to other items on the menu in this restaurant. The dish contains ground meat seasoned with some spices that are placed on the top of super thick noodles. It also has fish meal, leeks, Chinese chives and fresh egg yolk. The way to eat it is straightforward: you just mix all the ingredients to taste them together. You might be surprised by the flavors when you eat this for the first time. However, we are sure that you will like it more and more as you continue to eat. When you have finished eating, it is recommended that you put a small cup of rice into your noodle bowl that still has some flavor from the spices. This is called “shime” in Japanese, and it is meant to refresh your mouth. To put it simply, it plays the role of brushing your teeth. By eating a bowl of plain white rice, you can ‘clean up’ the remaining flavors in your mouth. In Kirameki, you can get a small cup of rice for free when you order Taiwanese Soupless Noodles. It is okay to put the rice into your noodle bowl at the end of eating, and it is great to eat the noodles and rice together. It definitely makes you full and satisfied. But, please take care of the smell of your breath after eating Taiwanese Soupless Noodles! Those are some spicy flavors!



Chicken Bone White Broth Noodles with Soy Sauce

There is a wide range of noodles in Kyoto. Most noodle restaurants in Kyoto specialize in ‘rich noodles.’ Kyoto is called the “Student City” because there are many universities in Kyoto City. Students want to feel full and satisfied for as little money as possible. That is why many noodle restaurants are serving ‘rich noodles’ to make students-the main customers-feel satisfied. Kirameki serves ‘rich noodles.’ The soup in this dish is made from chicken bones. It takes a long time to produce the umami flavors from the chicken bones. Umami is made from the chicken bones and adjusted for taste.When you eat ‘rich noodles,’ at first, try a spoonful of just the soup and enjoy each original rich flavor. Secondly, pick up some of the noodles and eat them together with the rich soup. The noodles are all made from Japanese flour called yumemanten, which is made in Nagano Prefecture. They are really thick and chewy. Most people fall in love with these divine noodles due to their texture. Also, you can enjoy some awesome toppings such as slices of roasted pork, juicy menma (bamboo shoots), shredded green onions, and a slice of lemon. They make these noodles even tastier.


Chicken Bone Noodles

As well as their soy sauce dishes, Kirameki also serves noodles that have a delightful salty taste. This dish is very similar to the soy sauce options. However, the color of the soup is a little different. These dishes have a special handmade sauce that contains salt made from fresh sea water from Vietnam and France. You can taste the natural flavor of the salt, which gives you a very different taste to the soy sauce noodles. It would be great to share two noodles with others if you go to Kirameki with your friends. Comparing two flavors is just one way of enjoying noodle restaurants and becoming an expert in Japanese noodles!


Golden Noodles with Sesame Sauce

In Japan, especially in Kyoto, the temperature reaches up to about 38 degrees in the summer. It is said that the summer climate in Kyoto is worse than a desert. Someone might say “I don’t want to get hot food on such a humid day.” But, for those people who need to cool down in the coming summer season eating noodles can be a great option. Golden noodles with sesame sauce is a dish of cold spicy noodles. It has plenty of shredded meat on top and also some peanuts. The peanuts play an important role in this dish. The sweet taste of the peanuts balances the spiciness. In Kirameki, this dish is served only in the summer. It would be the perfect noodle dish for anyone who really wants to eat noodles even on a hot day. Although we concentrated on Kirameki noodle restaurants this time, enjoy discovering and experimenting with a variety of noodle restaurants around Kyoto. You may be able to find a special noodle restaurant that your friends don’t know, and can be your noodle heaven.


There are six Kirameki restaurants in Kyoto:

1. Kirameki-no-tori

This was the first Kirameki restaurant opened in Kyoto. If you visit Kyoto Imperial Palace, Kirameki-no-tori is nearby. The opening hours are 11:00-15:00, and 18:00-23:00. The telephone number is 075-231-2505.

2. Yuhi-no-kirameki

This was the second Kirameki restaurant. If you visit Ichijoji, or Takaragaike, it is nearby. The opening hours are 11:00-15:00, and 18:00-23:00. The telephone number is 075-746-5388.

3. Kirameki Chicken Heart

This is Kirameki’s third restaurant. It is near Kyoto University of Foreign Studies. If you visit Arashiyama, you can go there by bus. The nearest bus stop is Shijo-kadono-oji, which takes about 15 minutes from Arashiyama. The opening hours are 11:00-14:30, and 18:00-22:30. The telephone number is 075-754-6388.

4. Kirameki ☆ JAPAN

Kirameki ☆ JAPAN, the fourth Kirameki restaurant, is near Demachi-yanagi Station and Kyoto University. Take the Keihan Railway and get off at Demachi-yanagi Station. It is easy to get there. The opening hours are 11:00-14:30, and 18:00-22:30. The Telephone number is 075-741-7174.

5. Komugi-no-kirameki

This is the fifth Kirameki restaurant. The nearest station is Kamikatsura, and Katsura. Kamikatsura is on the Hankyu Arashiyama Line. You could visit here before or after visiting Arashiyama. The opening hours are 11:00-22:30. The telephone number is 075-874-4411.

6. Menya-Kirameki -Kyoto Sanjo Street

This is the sixth Kirameki restaurant and the head restaurant of Kirameki. If you visit Kawaramachi, you can visit here. Head to north from Hankyu Kawaramachi Station. It takes about ten minutes on foot. The opening hours are 11:00-23:30. The telephone number is 075-744-6199.

Kyoto Ramen

by Takuro Yoshida
What do you imagine when you hear “Kyoto food”? You may picture a traditional, expensive meal with some complicated manners for eating. If you imagine such things, you would not be wrong. However, I want to introduce a new Kyoto food that is cheap and easy to eat: Kyoto ramen.

Ramen is a Chinese food, what many foreigners know as “Chinese noodles.” But recently, many Japanese people consume ramen, and the term “ramen” is now well established in Japan. We can easily see an example of this in the movie Tampopo, which tells the story of Japanese ramen culture. This movie, which was directed by Itami Juzo, will help you understand just how much Japanese like ramen, how they eat ramen, and how many different ways there are to make ramen.

[tampopo picture]

In Japanese, a ramen shop is called a “ramenya.” You can realize just how much Japanese like ramen by how many “Japanized” varieties of ramen there are throughout the entire country. For example, in Hokkaido there is a ramen that uses miso (fermented soy-bean paste) as its soup stock. It is called “Sapporo ramen.” In Kyushu, “Hakata ramen” is a white-soup ramen that is made with boiled pig bones. In the Kinki district, however, we have never had a unique, native ramen.

What is the reason then that so many people started to use the term “Kyoto ramen”? It is because they began to appreciate the variety of soup stocks here. It is commonly said that there three basic kinds of soup stocks, but actually we cannot know the real figure because so many shops have developed their own stocks. However, this variety is the good point of Kyoto ramen. In other districts, for example in Hakata or Sapporo, most ramen shops stick to the one local soup stock.

Here are some famous ramen shops in Kyoto. First, I will introduce Shinpukusaikan.

[shinpukusaikan picture]

This ramenya has a history of over half a century; it was opened during WWII. This shop is near Kyoto Station, so many travelers often drop in. The soup stock is chicken- and soy sauce-based, and although the color seems to appear dark and salty, it actually tastes better than it looks. This simple taste is said to be old-fashioned Kyoto ramen. This shop tops its ramen off with many slices of roast pork, and some outlets provide free boiled eggs. This ramen can be enjoyed for its “traditional” Kyoto taste.

Next is Tenkaippin, a famous shop whose name means “the best dish in the world.”

[tenkaippin picture]

This shop was opened in 1971, yet it recently opened outlets up in the Tohoku district. Tenkaippin is comparatively new among Kyoto ramen shops and is also known as a one of the pioneers of Kyoto ramen. Their soup stock is based on long simmered vegetables and chicken. This shop provides chopped scallions for free. Many people seem to like scallions in ramen, so this system is appreciated. Tenkaippin’s soup stock is new, so many people seem to enjoy trying it.

Rairaitei is the newest shop among the three.

[rairaitei picture]

Rairaitei opened its first branch in Kyoto in 1997. However, they went bankrupt and moved to Shiga Prefecture to start over again. They succeeded in Shiga and soon returned to Kyoto. Now there are branches all over Japan. In this shop, we can order ramen to our taste, or rather we can choose the saltiness of the soup, the hardness of the noodles, the quantity of scallions, and the amount of fat used. This system prevents us from getting tired of the same menu.

Many shops have their own soup stock, yet this phenomenon seems unique to Kyoto. So we can eat many different types of ramen, and I recommend you to try them all. Here are some good places in Kyoto where you can enjoy Japanese ramen culture. If you are interested in many kinds of ramen, Kyoto Station is a great place to go.

[kyoto station pictures]

Please look at these pictures. On the top floor of Kyoto Station is “Ramen Street.” You can find Hokkaido ramen, Hakata ramen, Kyoto ramen and so on. You will feel you are in traditional Kyoto because this street recreates the “machiya” style of this town. There are seven ramen shops, a café, a burger shop, and an ice cream shop. You will enjoy this street even if you don’t eat ramen.

Kyoto ramen continues to change. Many new shops open, but many close because they can’t satisfy the tastes of the customers. Perhaps you will discover your own ramen shop in Kyoto.