Uichiro: Kamo Nanban, Soba Kanten Jelly

Uichiro: Kamo Nanban, Kisetsu-no-gozen, Soba Kanten Jelly (宇一朗 へぎそば・越前そば)

Uichiro - Hegi-soba Echizen-soba teaser

Paku and I were invited to Uichiro, an elegant handmade soba and udon restaurant yesterday by one of Paku’s foodie friends. Uichiro is in a beautiful old machiya (traditional Kyoto house), has excellent food, great atmosphere and very friendly service.

I had kamo nanban (鴨南蛮そば), which is a popular Kyoto dish combining thick sliced roast duck breast, roast scallions and soba. The roast duck lends a distinct, pungent barbecued taste to the dashi soup.

Dessert was a true novelty; soba kanten jelly! Unheard of!

Article Update: Unfortunately, this commendable restaurant has closed. (20.10.2009)

Duck (kamo) is very popular in Kyoto, and is a ‘winter food’ as it is rich and nutritious. Kamo is enjoyed in soup, ham-like thick sliced roast and the luxurious kamo-nabe.

Uichiro’s rendition of kamo nanban is exquisite because the kamo and scallions have been well grilled before added to the dashi soup. Dashi is already rich and pungent thanks to the katsuobushi (shaved skipjack tuna) that is the base of the soup stock, but this combination takes it over the top. The three of us has never had a Japanese soup that tasted anything like this, it was sublime! And perfect for a snowy, winter day.

Steaming Kamo Nanban Soba
Uichiro - Hegi-soba Echizen-soba
note: The dipping sauce on the left is not for kamo nanban soba, but for the croquettes (see below).

Kisetsu-no-gozen (Seasonal Dish Set) – first course
Uichiro - Hegi-soba Echizen-soba
note: The bowl on the left is delightfully and playfully in the form of a radish! Nuta (left) and mushi-zushi (right).

Kisetsu-no-gozen (Seasonal Dish Set) – main course, tempura sobaUichiro - Hegi-soba Echizen-soba

Kisetsu-no-gozen (Seasonal Dish Set) – final course, soba kanten jellyUichiro - Hegi-soba Echizen-soba

Kisetsu-no-gozen
Gozen is the polite was to say ‘meal’ in Japanese. Traditionally it was reserved in use for members of the nobility. Now, ‘nice’ lunch sets are often called Gozen… and usually incorporate a rice dish.

Kisetsu in Japanese means, ‘season’.

This one consisted of four dishes in three courses.

Nuta: a fish salad dressed with a miso-vinegar based dressing.
Mushi-zushi: This is a steamed (mushi) variation of the ever popular chirashi-zushi. None of us had ever had this dish before as sushi is not a warm or hot dish. Again, seasonal — it’s winter. The sushi rice seemed to have dashi in it, making it more hearty. The yellow topping is slivered egg. The green leaf garnish is sansho.
Tempura Soba: Shrimp and Sato-imo tempura served on soba.
Soba Kanten Jelly: Simple yet astounding! Again, none of us had ever heard of this dessert. Kanten is a naturally derived jelly that is made from sea vegetables used for many popular desserts in Japanese cuisine. Traditionally it was produced in cold mountainous regions in the winter as freeze drying was essential to creating kanten.

This dessert is unique because the kanten is heavily flavored with soba, probably soba-cha (soba ‘tea’). The reddish-brown garnish sprinkled on top of the jelly is cracked, roasted soba kernels.

The black beans are the well-loved sweetened kuro-mame, literally ‘black bean’, from the Tamba region of Kyoto.

This is one heck of a dessert!

Sato-imo (Japanese taro) Croquettes
Uichiro - Hegi-soba Echizen-soba
Yummy!

Japanese Lacquerware – Urushi
Uichiro - Hegi-soba Echizen-soba
Everything in this photo is lacquered, even the tray. Japanese lacquerware, or urushi, often incorporates fabric. Notice the square at the bottom of the bowl, that is fabric that has been lacquered over. The lip of the bowl is also covered with fabric, as is the grip of the spoon. Urushi is another subject that an entire blog could easily be devoted to. Be sure to stock-up on urushi when you visit Kyoto!

Uichiro Exterior
Uichiro - Hegi-soba Echizen-soba

The Genkan, or Entry VestibuleUichiro - Hegi-soba Echizen-soba
A fountain, a cast iron lantern and the ubiquitous ikebana flower arrangement greet the guest upon sliding open the door.

The Front Dining Room
Uichiro - Hegi-soba Echizen-soba
Several obi (帯), or kimono sash decorate the dining room. Perhaps this machiya was once an obi store.

The Front Dining Room
Uichiro - Hegi-soba Echizen-soba

The Front Dining Room – Mochi-bana
Uichiro - Hegi-soba Echizen-soba
This is a winter decoration called mochi-bana, literally ‘mochi flower’. Pieces of red and white mochi (rice cake) are put on willow branches to simulate blossoms. This decoration is a part of the New Year’s (shogatsu) celebration.

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English:
English menu: none
English website: none
Service/Staff: Very friendly
Price: 700 – 1,800 yen.
Location and Access: Uichiro is located a few blocks to the west of Teramachi and Kawaramachi Steets, about 15-20 minutes north of the Shijo/Sanjo Kawaramachi and Shijo/Sanjo Karasuma areas. Probably best accessed on foot.
Address: 604-0944 Kyoto-shi Nakagyo-ku Oshikoji Fuyacho-higashi-iru Tachibana-cho 616
(京都市中京区押小路通麩屋町東入ル橘町616番地)
Telephone: 075-211-8138
Near Sightseeing Spot: The Imperial Palace (10 min. walk to the north), Teramachi Street, Kamo River, Kyoto International Manga Museum.

Map:

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7 Responses to “Uichiro: Kamo Nanban, Soba Kanten Jelly”

  1. Kat says:

    what a great place! and that dessert very interesting!

  2. PekoPeko says:

    Hey Kat,
    The soba kanten jelly was really a novelty. The contrast of the soft, chewy jelly with the crunchy roasted cracked soba kernels, both soba, is really wonderful.
    The more I think about it, the steamed sushi is really interesting too, especially in the winter. I was able to find that recipe in a cook book last night

  3. Lori says:

    That duck and soba dish looks so good! I enjoy soba and I absolutely love roast duck! Makes me want to go down to Chinatown this week and pick some up. :)

  4. PekoPeko says:

    Hi Lori,
    Yes, soba noodles and duck go surprisingly well together. I think that Japanese duck and Chinese duck are way different, but tell us if you get down to Chinatown and what you get.

  5. Momo says:

    yum!!! too bad its already getting pretty warm down in southern california! :[

  6. […] 2009-06-04 16:37:43 This noon… Kamo nanban that I haven’t had for a while ❤ ❤ ❤ It’s reaaly deliciouus (/∀\*) […]

  7. Alex says:

    Hi, we really loved Uichiro when we came to Kyoto a few months ago and are really looking forward to going again this weekend. We tried to make a reservation but both the web-site and the phone line seem to be down…. Just wondering if you know if they are still open?

    Alex Woo, Hong Kong

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