Rokudenya – Tantanmen in Ponto-cho

— NOTICE: Unfortunately KyotoFoodie no longer recommends this restaurant. —

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The company that owns Rokudenya, Kiwa Group still has some excellent restaurants in Kyoto but Rokudenya is history.The manager of Rokudenya seems to take a perverse delight in being unbelievably rude to customers. I have seen him so rude on occasion that by Japanese standards one would have to conclude that he is abnormal.

At Rokudenya I once found a shard of broken ramen bowl so large in my soup that it couldn’t have even fit in my mouth! The degree of sloppiness required to serve a customer’s dinner with about 1/5 of an entire ceramic bowl inside is more than can easily be imagined. In Japan it is simply unheard of. When I tried to call the manager over to show him the shard he tried to ignore me and tried to send over a young staff member. I persisted and asked him to come around the counter so I could show him the shard without alarming the other customers and spoiling their dinner. Now I know that I should have made a fuss. Finally he sighed and came over to see what was up. He offered a feeble apology as he already started to walk away and said to hold on while they made me another.

The staff has followed the manager’s lead. The last time I was there I noticed some of the staff sneaking cigarettes in the kitchen, one young guy was even stood on top of a counter where food is prepared to grab something off a shelf!

The food is not what it once was either, it seems that they are cutting corners on ingredients.

I have no idea what happened to this restaurant, but we have visited Rokudenya several times and the experience was equally appalling on each occasion.

Therefore, we recommend that you avoid Rokudenya.

Rokudenya – Tantanmen in Ponto-cho

Rokudenya features many Chinese style noodle dishes, called tantanmen. Tantanmen (担々麺、担担麺) which hails from Sichuan Province in China, it is heavily spiced with Sichuan pepper (the same plant the Japanese sansho comes from), sesame, chili and chili oil. Rokudenya has a number of tantanmen inspired ramen and other dishes. These dishes are often nouveau, Sichuan style spicy and very, very delicious.

A remarkable dish is the Red Tantanmen (赤担々麺). This is a spicy, tomato based soup (unheard of for ramen) garnished with whole, fresh tomato and parmesan cheese! It is a novel composition yet it seems like a classic.

The menu features many other dishes, lots of nabe dishes. The most famous is the soft-shell turtle nabe (Chinese style hot pot, rather than the Japanese nabe.) Turtle is said to be good for your skin, and for the gents, to give you plenty of extra umph for the ‘night life’ as they put it in Japan.

(We have not tried Rokudenya’s nabe dishes as we sampled the more ‘summery’ offerings. We are looking forward to Rokudenya’s nabe dishes as the weather cools off and we move into autumn and winter.)

There are many other ippin ryori dishes on the menu. They are often Sichuan-spicy and novel in composition.

Homemade chili oil is available on a covered ceramic pot at each table, this is spooned on to the tantanmen to give it some extra punch. Rokudenya’s chili oil is also available to purchase/take away. Despite the amount if chili in it, it isn’t that hot, it is pungent and even a bit sweet.

The dining experience is casual. Rokudenya is located in the heart of Ponto-cho (hanamachi), Rokudenya a fairly new restaurant, but in an old and well kept Kyoto-style townhouse (町家, machiya).

Kurogoma Tantanmen (black sesame tantanmen)Black Sesame Tantan Reimen
This is a house signature dish, very spicy and rich in chili, Sichuan pepper and sesame flavors, Rokudenya offers both the standard hot and a summer cold version (reimen, literally, cold noodles).

Natsuyasai Reimen (summer vegetables and cold noodles) Tantan Reimen Hamo and Summer Vegetables
This dish features cold noodles (reimen) and a selection of fresh Kyoto summer vegetables. There is no shoyu based tare but a mixture of whipped raw egg and grated nagaimo (mountain yam).

Red Tantanmen (tomato tantanmen)Red Tantanmen Tomato

Tebaage (deep-fried chicken wings)
Deepfried Spiced Chicken Wings
Spiced with five-spice and deep-fried — excellent!

K. F. PekoPeko:
I thought that the Natsuyasai Reimen (Summer vegetables and cold noodles) was excellent. A very ‘Kyoto’ style dish. Simple, light and understated. While it’s not a dish that I would order often, with a splash of vinegar, this is an excellent midsummer meal when one’s appetite wanes from the sultry Kyoto summer.

Red Tantanmen is not quite as spicy as the tantanmen dishes and is wonderful. Despite it’s novelty, it seems like it must have been on the menu for centuries. Another must try!

There is a monthly and seasonal menu with many ippin and noodle dishes. These are all worth a try.

Rokudenya Menu
English menu (small red text is English)
well translated, understandable — thanks!

Rokudenya Storefront
Rokudenya entrance and noren (shop curtain)

Rokudenya Storefront and Menu
Rokudenya storefront menu

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