Honke Owariya, considered to be one of Kyoto's best soba restaurants, was founded in 1465. One of Japan's oldest restaurants, it nevertheless retains a humble atmosphere. Walk through its doors and you'll find unique Kyoto soba dishes that you won’t find anywhere else! Want to enjoy a culinary treasure? Read on!

Honke Owariya is near Nijo Castle and Kyoto Imperial Palace, approximately 5 minutes’ walk from Karasuma-oike Station on the Kyoto Municipal Subway.
One of the oldest restaurants in Kyoto, Honke Owariya started off as a confectionery store in Owarinokuni (which now forms part of Aichi Prefecture). According to ancient literature, it moved to Kyoto “in search of a better class of customer”. It has now maintained Kyoto’s fine culinary traditions for over 550 years.

You can feel the history behind Honke Owariya just from its facade

▲The exterior of the restaurant exudes style and atmosphere. Note the striking historical signboard

The characters on the board read Sobamochi. From the late Edo period to the Meiji era, the 13th owner of this establishment is said to have made a signature confectionery item here, known as Sobamochi.
Although he called it mochi (rice cake) it was actually what is known as soba manju, consisting of bean jam wrapped in a thin dough covering of buckwheat or wheat flour.
At that time, any round confectionery was generally called mochi, and that’s the name that has stuck ever since. These days, sobamochi is served as an accompaniment with Japanese tea and is very popular with Kyoto locals.

▲Feel the history behind this plaque. Impressively painted characters spell out Soba and Udon

Nowadays, the main branch of Kyoto's best soba restaurant is in a Kyoto-style townhouse built in the early Meiji period. On the 1st floor, there is a tearoom with chairs, while the 2nd floor has a tatami room, also with chairs.

▲Seating around the irori (hearth in the floor) create an air of refinement

After ordering, I sit and wait for a while, relaxing in the comfortable surroundings. The decor reminds me that this place is steeped in the history of Kyoto. "Sorry to keep you waiting," a voice says. As I wait expectantly for the food to arrive, I'll tell you about some of Owariya's specialty dishes!

Honke Owariya's Kyoto soba secret: Fine Ingredients, used meticulously

Water, soup and buckwheat flour…everything prepared with scrupulous attention to detail. You’ll never tire of the delicious flavors here!
Ho-Rai Soba, Honke Owariya’s classic dish (2,160 yen, including tax). In the old days, goldsmiths are said to have used buckwheat flour to gather up scattered gold leaf. That’s why soba has been associated with luck in money and wealth since ancient times.
Since people used to eat soba to bring them luck, the 14th owner of the restaurant created this dish which he called “Ho-rai soba”. The noodl…

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