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Dec 28, 2012 05:50 AM

Yamamoto Menzou - First encounter with the udon

Noodles, noodles, noodles... Frankly, before coming to Japan I didn't get it. Why are Japanese seemingly more passionate about long strips of cooked dough than even Italians are ?
But now that I'm back home I miss them so much, ramen, udon, soba... I get you, I miss you.

I didn't have many places in mind when going to Kyoto, but I knew I wanted to try Yamamoto Menzou's udon. People where quietly waiting in line under the boiling sun, and the nice hostess brought us some cold tea to enjoy while waiting.

Once inside, I ordered zaru-udon (which are to udon what tsukemen is to ramen) with chicken tempura.

Describing these noodles without having to use a sexual metaphor is too demanding. So please, just look at the photo I'm uploading to Chowhound and let your imagination do the rest...

The tempura were perfect, and I don't use that word in vain, I insist, perfection does sometimes exist. The fried dough was light, ever so slightly caressed by oil, inside the shell was sleeping a tender and moist piece of chicken with a precise and succulent seasoning.

I also tasted the "regular" bowl of udon, where the noodles got to relax in the broth. The latter was a little to smoky, which I found threw the dish slightly off balance.

Being the only udon I tasted in Kyoto, how could I know if this quality is exceptional or not ? I can't, but I'm nonetheless positive that next time I am in Kyoto, I'll quietly join the crowd in line, with or without the sun.


For a slightly modified review (a part from the fact it's in french) and two other pictures, you can check out

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  1. I've been eating Japanese food for....let's say a number of years, but right now I'm having trouble trying to imagine what chicken tempura would be like.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Robb S

      I guess one could make chicken tempura, but I've never seen it anywhere...

      1. re: Uncle Yabai

        I never saw chicken tempura elsewhere, during my stay in Japan, but I had no idea this was a novelty.

        It was great nonetheless, and I highly recommend you to try it out, if you have the chance to pass by Kyoto.

      2. re: Robb S

        Chicken tempura, or tori-ten, is fairly common in western Japan. It originated in Oita prefecture (which is also famous for their style of kara-age), and I do believe tori-ten is a standard side for sanuki udon in Kagawa prefecture in Shikoku. If you ever go the the sanuki udon chain restaurant Marugame (which is quite good and cheap), their tori-ten is one of the most popular sides.
        It does look like Yamamoto Menzou is inspired by sanuki style udon, but added a contemporary twist. Looks really good. And impressive that their Tabelog score puts them in the top 500 restaurants in all of Japan.

        1. re: E Eto

          Interesting. Learn something new every day.