Tsunamichi: Country Style Teuchi (Handmade) Soba and Udon in Kyoto (綱道: 手打ちそば、手打ちうどん、うんどん)
The island of Shikoku is Udon country. And 27 years ago, a man from Shikoku quit his job as a salary man and started Tsunamichi with the intent of making the best damn handmade noodles in Kyoto.
Now a lot of noodle shops have a sign out front reading, ‘teuchi soba‘ (handmade soba), ‘teuchi udon‘ (handmade udon), but actually, very few are really handmade. Tsunamichi is the real deal!
When the master is not cooking noodles in front of customers, he is upstairs making noodles! Making real handmade noodles is hard labor, and Tsunamichi is very popular. What’s more, Tsunamichi is open not just for lunch, but also dinner. Most Mom and Pop type noodle shops are only open for lunch, as it is just such hard work.
While waiting for my noodles, watching the master cook, the steady stream of customers… and then I noticed the sign with the business hours (open for lunch AND dinner), I was like, wow, this guy is superman!
Paku and I were out looking for some lunch the other day, while I was taking her to a surprise destination; the grave of Lady Murasaki Shikibu, considered to have written the world’s first novel, The Tale of Genji.
It was lunchtime and we were starving and cold and I saw a sign for a noodle shop pointing down a little street and decided to investigate. Once inside, we soon realized that we had happened upon a mecca for Kyoto noodle lovers.
Later Paku searched on the internet and I talked to some friends, it seemed that somehow we were the only people around that had never heard of Tsunamichi!
Tsunamichi’s Miso Nikomi Udon
A Little About Udon:
Tsunamichi is not ‘Kyoto’, it is ‘country-style’ noodles, in Kyoto.
As stated above, Shikoku is udon country, or undon, as it is apparently called in the local dialect. And Sanuki Udon is the udon. When Japanese think of udon, they invariably think ‘Sanuki’. Sanuki is the ancient name of the country that is modern-day Kagawa Prefecture.
Knowledge of udon was conveyed to Japan more than 1000 years ago by the monk Kukai (Kobo Daishi). Kukai was from Sanuki and when he returned to Japan, in addition to Buddhism he taught what he had learned about noodles in China. And there, the seed of Japanese udon culture was planted. More than 1000 years later, this love of udon flourishes, the people of Sanuki are very, very particular about their udon.
In fact there is a strict and legal definition of what qualifies as Sanuki Udon.
- Must be made in Kagawa Prefecture
- Must be handmade
- By weight, water must be more than 40% as compared to wheat flour
- By weight, salt must be more than 3% as compared to wheat flour
- Must be ‘ripened’ (jukusei, 熟成) at least 2 hours before cutting
If you want to try a taste of Sanuki on Kyoto, Tsunamichi is the place.
Udon for Winter: Miso Nikomi Udon
I visited Tsunamichi twice in the last month and both times ordered the same dish, Miso Nikomi Udon (みそ煮込みうどん).
Nikomi, means to be simmered in. Miso is the same miso as miso soup. So, this dish is udon noodles that have been simmered in a thick miso based soup. The soup and udon noodles are placed in a small metal or ceramic ‘nabe‘, vegetables such as leeks added, plus sliced atsuage tofu, fish cake and a raw egg. This is cooked over high heat for five minutes or so. Until the veggies and egg are lightly cooked and is then served.
This is wonderful dish for winter. A rich and nutritious soup with thick, chewy udon. It is usually still boiling vigorously when served. After a few minutes, it starts to approach an edible temperature and about this time the egg is cooked. (If aren’t up for raw egg, this dish is safe.)
To further cool the soup and noodle mixture, it is spooned into a smaller bowl.
Shichimi (seven flavored chili pepper) can be sprinkled on either when it is transfered to this smaller bowl, or when it arrives, boiling vigorously in the nabe pot.
Tsunamichi serves both handmade soba and udon. Also, rice dishes like donburi. There are all the numerous noodle dishes, Tsunamichi doesn’t seem to offer any originals, just the classic Japanese lunch fare with noodles made with love and the taste and spirit of Sanuki.
Miso Nikomi Udon with Shichimi in a Small Bowl
notice the egg is now cooked
Many traditional restaurants in Japan have their dishes written with brush and ink on these boards.
The Menu – Detail
Tsunamichi Store Front
Tsunamichi Store Front – Detail
Plastic food, even the plastic looks tasty!
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English menu: none
English website: none
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)
Near Sightseeing Spot: Daitokuji Temple (10 min. bus)
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