Cold Summer Noodles: Tsunamichi’s Zaru Udon, Zaru Soba

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Do Not Miss

When my mother first introduced me to cold pasta with pesto as a tasty antidote to the summertime heat, it was an epiphany to me. It is the first food I remember that was meant to not only give sustenance but also to cool. Tabbouleh was probably next. Japanese cold zaru soba and zaru udon is another wonderful summer dish meant to offer respite from the sultry summer heat. And Kyoto’s Tsunamichi offers my very favorite zaru udon. If you are in town in the hot months and like noodles, don’t miss this one!

Tsunamichi's Cold Summer Noodles Zaru Udon Zaru Soba 綱道 ざるとろ そば うどん

Cold Summer Noodles: Zaru Toro Udon at Tsunamichi - Served

Udon for Summer: Zaru Toro Udon at Tsunamichi (綱道のざるとろうどん)
This is a true gourmet masterpiece, country-style. It is just the right meal for Japanese summer!

Noodles: Dense, thick udon noodles, somehow both soft and firm, with lots of earthy, wheaty flavor served cold on a woven bamboo zaru (sieve) inset in a lacquered tray.
Dipping ‘Sauce’: The noodles are dipped into a mixture of grated yamaimo (Japanese mountain yam), raw egg, chopped scallions, fresh grated (real) wasabi and tsuyu. Tsuyu is a mixture of dashi, soy sauce and mirin.

Tsunamichi’s dipping sauce mixture is quite special, it is surely the richest I have had. The grated yamaimo is called tororo and unlike the very gooey (and cheaper) nagaimo usually used for tororo, it is extremely thick. The raw egg adds a luxurious creaminess, the fresh wasabi adds plenty of zing and the tsuyu is quite salty owing to plenty of soy sauce used.

The combination of this heavy, creamy dipping sauce and the heavy-duty country style noodles far surpasses any zaru udon or zaru soba dish I have encountered.

I am not a fan of Tsunamichi’s soba, it is very rough and thick and for me somehow lacks much taste. If you live in Kyoto and can visit Tsunamichi easily and like soba, by all means give it a try and tells us what you think in the comments section below. If you are just in town for a few days and want to try Tsunamichi, I highly recommend the udon over the soba.

Zaru toro udon costs 850 yen – and is quite filling.

Tsunamichi's Cold Summer Noodles Zaru Udon Zaru Soba 綱道 ざるとろ そば うどん

Cold Summer Noodles: Zaru Toro Udon at Tsunamichi - Pouring on Tsuyu

Tsunamichi's Cold Summer Noodles Zaru Udon Zaru Soba 綱道 ざるとろ そば うどん

Cold Summer Noodles: Zaru Toro Udon at Tsunamichi

Tsunamichi's Cold Summer Noodles Zaru Udon Zaru Soba 綱道 ざるとろ そば うどん

Cold Summer Noodles: Zaru Toro Udon at Tsunamichi

Tsunamichi's Cold Summer Noodles Zaru Udon Zaru Soba 綱道 ざるとろ そば うどん

Cold Summer Noodles: Zaru Toro Udon at Tsunamichi

Tsunamichi's Cold Summer Noodles Zaru Udon Zaru Soba 綱道 ざるとろ そば うどん

All Gone!

More about Tsunamichi and Udon Country
It is mid-summer and hot, hot, hot in Kyoto now. The Gion Festival is over and that means the rainy season is over too. (The rainy season never fails to end the day or so before the Gion Festival Junko (procession) on the morning of July 17.) This is the season for cold and cooling meals.

Back in February of 2008 Miwa and I reviewed Tsunamichi’s very popular winter dish, piping hot miso simmered udon, (miso nikomi udon) and I eat it quite often in the cold months. As much as I like that one, I realized that I like this summer even more, much more.

Tsunamichi doesn’t make Kyoto-style noodles, no, there are thick, heavy and quite rough hewn, actually with more than a few noodles being too short or too thick. Never mind that, the taste is way over the top! Surely this is a dish for foodies not available abroad, not even available most anywhere in Japan!

Tsunamichi is a noodle shop run by a man from Kagawa prefecture in Shikoku. Sanuki is the classical name for this region and Sanuki is udon country! And the proprietor makes his udon, called undon in his dialect, by hand! (His soba too.)

Our previous ‘Udon for Winter‘ article about Tsunamichi has lots more information about udon culture in Shikoku so be sure to check it out!

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English menu: none
English website: none
Service/Staff: Friendly
Price: 700 – 1,300 yen.
Location and Access: Bus, Subway. Tsunamichi is located about a 3 minute walk east from Kitaoji Bus Terminal, Kitaoji Subway Station and Kitaoji Vivre Shopping Center.
Address: Kyoto-shi Kita-ku Kitaoji-dori Karasuma Higashi-hitosuji Kita-iru Kitakamifusa-cho 39-2 (京都市北区北大路通烏丸東一筋北入ル北上総町39-2)
Telephone: 075-492-7860
Near Sightseeing Spot: Daitokuji Temple (10 min. bus)


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12 Responses to “Cold Summer Noodles: Tsunamichi’s Zaru Udon, Zaru Soba”

  1. Lori says:

    That looks so good, all mixed up with the tsuyu!

  2. Paul Hays says:

    Almost makes me nostalgic for the hot Japanese summer. But I do love zaru and can’t get it here (so cal.) easily. Thanks for sharing.
    I am back in the kansai for the fall semester and we will definitely have to get together for lunch one day soon.

  3. Anna says:

    The noodles look amazing & delicious.Great post thanks.

  4. Chris says:

    I absolutely agree with you about Tsunamichi’s soba vs. udon. It’s exactly the opposite from Owariya: their udon is mediocre at best, but the soba kicks expletives. Pity I missed their summer cold dishes, though, it makes me nostalgic. But then, I always have that reaction when I read your posts….

  5. Peko says:

    Hi Lori and Anna,

    Yes, all mixed up. I was a little concerned as to whether our visitors overseas would find the raw egg, yama imo and tsuyu mixture appetizing or not. Glad you like it!

    Hello Paul, Can’t easily get zaru soba/udon in So Cal? That is too bad! Drop me a line again when you are back in town.

    Hi Chris, I take great heart in your agreement on Tsunamichi’s soba. I have never had udon at Owariya, udon at a soba resto like that just seemed kind of ayashii to me!

  6. I do find myself craving for the Japanese cold noodles (usually I take soba though) in Jap outlets all over.
    Maybe it’s the different sensation of slurping on something cold, instead of piping hot.

  7. […] I did this article on my favorite cold udon at Tsunamichi I thought that I ought to do a recipe post too. I somehow […]

  8. Brilliant- I’ve been making zaru soba everyday for lunch, and in Toronto there’s no good variety in the cold noodles. This will be a great dish to try.

  9. Eric T says:

    Well, I saw your recommendation, and had to run out and try some. It was great, no doubt. I feel sorry for the guy working, as I was a sweaty mess riding my bike from Kyoto Station up there in this heat. He was very gracious though, and the food definitely made me thankful for the hike up there.

  10. Tom Baker says:

    Is it possible to find Soba noodles in the stores? I hear a lot about how good and good for you Soba is from both Iron Chef and Iron Chef America. I would like to try them in here in Indiana.

  11. Chris says:

    Tom, you can find dry soba noodles in a lot of American stores these days. Try an Asian market first, and if you don’t have one try the largest supermarket, in the “Asian” or “International” section.

    Dry soba noodles are not nearly as good as fresh, but you do get a definite flavor of the buckwheat.

    Note that soba noodles are not usually wheat-free, if that matters: usually they have at least some flour, because soba has no gluten whatever and so it’s quite difficult to get pure soba noodles to hold together.

  12. Nils von Barth says:

    Wanted to echo review & Chris’s comment re: udon and soba – the udon at Tsunamichi is fabulous (as is the dashi), but when I first visited I accidentally ordered the soba (remember the restaurant, forgot the recommended dish), and found it completely forgettable. Went again and got the recommended miso nikomi udon, and friend got another udon dish, and both were fabulous.

    (Udon only) Highly recommended!

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