Negi Udon Shop, Yorozuya in Gion, Kyoto 祇をん 萬屋 九条ネギうどん
For lunch Miwa took me to Yorozuya, a tiny noodle shop in Gion that is known for it’s Kyoto scallion udon. If you come to Yorozuya for lunch, you might find yourself sitting next to a maiko also enjoying a bowl of udon heaped with scallions.
Hidden Lunch Spot in Gion and Kyoto Vegetables
Just a few minutes walk from Hanamikoji and Gion Corner, Yorozuya is one of those little Kyoto shops frequented by locals that is famous for a single dish. One of Kyoto’s famous vegetables, kujo scallion is combined with a generous helping of grated ginger in hot dashi with udon noodles (soba is also available).
Gion is the entertainment district of Kyoto and maiko (apprentice geisha) and Kabuki actors often visit the unpretentious Yorozuya for lunch.
Negi Udon Lunch
Kujo Negi and Heaps of Ginger
Kujo Scallion Udon
While enjoying lunch on a recent brisk autumn day, Miwa asked the owner about the dashi and kujo negi. The dashi is quite rich in flavor and is made with a lot of shaved fish. The scallions are first blanched and this removes the bitterness. They are then simmered with the dashi for several minutes, this makes them sweet and adds complexity to the dashi. The soup is heavy with the taste of fresh scallion but is not bitter or ‘oniony’. One bowl of kujo negi udon contains 7 to 8 scallions!
Miwa ordered ankake negi udon. Ankake is a kind of noodle broth that has katakuriko (starch) added to it which makes it very thick. Ankake is about the consistency of heavy cream. The starch adds no taste, but the dashi does retain heat much longer. If you burn your tongue easily you will probably want to avoid ankake! Ankake is wonderful in the cold seasons as it really does warm the body up. It is a great way to add richness to dashi without more calories.
For my taste, the udon noodles were too soft and not at all al dente. A lot of Kyoto people like noodles to be well cooked though, it is considered more sophisticated by them. Probably the majority of Japanese prefer noodles al dente.
If you want to order noodles in Japan al dente, the Japanese word is katame (固め).
Shichimi and Sansho Spice
Shichimi, or seven spice is a must for any Japanese noodle dish. Sansho is in the unopened container. There are several shops in the Gion neighborhood famous for shichimi and sansho. We have an article on the way for that, but for now you can check out this topic on spices at Kyoto Support forum.
Shichimi on Negi Udon – detail
Ankake Negi Udon
Ankake broth is considerably thicker than regular dashi.
Award winning Kyoto scallions!
About Kujo Negi
Literally, ‘ninth street onion’, is a traditional Kyoto vegetable, or Kyo-yasai that came to Kyoto from current day Namba, Osaka about 1,300 years ago. Today, Kujo (ninth street) is just south of Kyoto Station. Over the centuries kujo negi developed their own ‘Kyoto’ flavor and since the Edo era this area produced most of the scallions for Kyoto and thus they became known as kujo negi. Kujo negi is available all year now but traditionally they were in season in November.
There are now two types of kujo negi, thick and thin. Yorozuya uses the thin variety.
The neighborhood is typical of Gion; a jumbled mix of exclusive, traditional and seedy. You can peek into a moss covered temple garden or buy some booze from a vending machine and take it with you to the Hotel King (a love hotel).
The area infront of the gate to this little temple is quite dumpy, but take a look inside.
Neighborhood Temple Garden
The carefully scuplted pines, the moss and stones are so Japanese. I love the diagonal, half useless stone path.
Neighborhood Love Hotel
If scallions in hot dashi put you and your mate in the mood, you are in luck! You can stop in at Hotel King just down the way for a ‘rest’.
Neighborhood Guard Dog
This sleepy and uninterested dog was sitting on top of a barrel at the entrance to the storeroom of a liquor store. In the background is a vending machine (brown), the white character on it means sake.
English and Access
English menu: none
English website: none (Japanese language website)
Service/Staff: very friendly and helpful
Hours: 12noon-10pm, open everyday (except around Golden Week, Obon, New Year’s, Obon, )
Location and Access: Five minutes on foot from Gion Shijo Station (Keihan Railway). From Shijo Street walk south on Hanamikoji to the second street and turn right (west) and walk about 1 minute. Yorozuya is on the left (south) side of the street, opposite the small temple gate shown above.
Address : Kyoto-shi, Higashiyama-ku, Shijo Hanamikoji-sagaru, Futasujime Nishi-iru, Komatsu-cho 555-1 (京都市東山区四条花見小路下る二筋目西入る小松町555-1)
Near sightseeing Spot: Yorozuya is located near the first Zen temple in Japan, Kenninji. It has some very old and architecturally significant buildings and the gardens are well worth your time. If you are in Kyoto and don’t have time to get out of the center of the city but still want to see some Zen gardens, try Kennin Temple.
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