The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 18 April 2014

Miso-nikomi Udon @ Yamamotoya Honten, Nagoya (Japan)

One of the food specialties of Nagoya is miso-nikomi udon, hard udon simmered in red miso soup. Yamamotoya is Nagoya's oldest and most well-known restaurant that specialises in miso-nikomi udon, and there are several branches around Nagoya to make it easy for anyone to satisfy their udon craving. The Yamamotoya chain is a regional favourite, popular with the locals and on the tourist radar, so there is sometimes a queue for a table. On the Friday we visited this branch in Sakae for lunch, we had to wait about 15 minutes for a table. This is a no-frills place with prompt and efficient service, and we appreciated the refreshing oshibori (wet towel) and free tea service.

Diners enjoying their bowls of miso-nikomi udon:

Kitchen down the back:

Several types of miso-nikomi udon on the menu:

Even though the place was operating full capacity with a perpetual queue, we didn't feel rushed at all - I think it may have something to do with the fact that we had a 4-month-old baby and a 5-year-old boy in our dining party. Many other patrons were in and out with business-like efficiency (back to the office after a short lunch break, perhaps), so those in the line didn't have long to wait. Yamamotoya's udon are handmade thick and long, and served piping hot and slightly chewy in a strong broth made with hatcho miso. Each order of udon included a bowl of rice and tsukemono (pickled vegetables). Plain miso-nikomi udon was the cheapest option available at 892 yen, and it includes the basic ingredients like negi (Japanese leek), kamaboko (fishcake) and a raw egg. There are also miso-nikomi udon with your choice of ingredients like chicken, tofu, tempura or pork. There are options to add on extra rice, pickled vegetables, egg, leek, prawn tempura and even giant garlic. In addition to the miso-nikomi udon menu, there are small and side dishes also available as well as a small selection of Japanese-flavoured gelato, in case that hearty serving of udon was not big enough to satisfy.

Tsukemono (pickled vegetables), which was quite mild and didn't taste very pickled at all:

The earthernware bowl of steaming hot udon:

Hubby's miso-nikomi udon with Nagoya cochin (1680 yen), a famous breed of native Japanese chicken grown in Nagoya, and prized for the large number of eggs laid and tasty meat. The chicken in this dish was lean and firm yet juicy. I would love to eat and compare normal domesticated chicken with Nagoya cochin side-by-side:

I chose the lunch special of miso-nikomi udon with oysters (1890 yen):

Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette) with slices of a type of green pepper that had a surprisingly spicy kick:

On the wall next to our table was a poster advertising "Genki" (healthy) juice. The mixture of green leafy vegetables, green tea and apple juice was shaken, not stirred:

The Genki juice was delicious!

We all enjoyed the slightly chewy noodles served with the robustly flavoured miso-based broth. This lunch was a great start of our foodie experience in Nagoya.

Yamamotoya Honten (Sakae Shirakawa)
1st Floor (Ground level)
Yamamotoya Honten Sakae Building
2-14-5 Sakae
Naka-ku, Nagoya
Tel. +81 52 201 4082

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