On Sunday Mewby and I had the pleasure of lunch with writer/photographer Sean Lotman. Sean’s wife manages the Honke Owariya soba noodle business, a family company which is pretty famous in Kyoto. The business actually dates from 1465, though they “only” started making noodles Sean told me about 300 or 400 years ago, as they were originally a confectionary business. They still make confectionary but it is the noodles that have made it famous. We met up with Sean at the main branch of Honke Owariya, a delightful old traditional Kyoto building for a stimulating lunch of hearty food and good conversation in beautiful surrounds.
Mewby had the tendon, deep fried battered shrimp and vegetables on a bed of white rice. This made her very happy.
Over lunch Sean told us about his travels, his writing and his photography and afterwards he showed us some of his pictures. We both enjoyed his photography very much and I was particularly taken with his pairing of photographs with self-penned haiku, and would encourage you to take a look at those he has up on his website: I DO HAIKU, YOU. Sean is a very personable chap, with a lot to talk about though and that could well be the topic of another article!
My main purpose today though is to tell you about Honke Owariya. I would recommend it as a classic Kyoto dining experience. The wooden building with its tatami mats, sliding screens, and little gardens provides an atmospheric setting for a humble bowl of noodles. And despite the fact that this restaurant has hosted Japanese royalty when they visit Kyoto, the staff do not put on airs and I was happy with the service. Honke Owariya is clearly very popular though so you may have to wait for a table.
Honke Owariya is a short walk north of Karasuma Oike Station’s Exit 1, on the west side of Kurumayacho Street. Here is the map from their website:
Opening hours: 11:00〜19:00（Last orders: 18:30）
Closed on January 1st & 2nd
Address: Kurumayacho-dori, Nijo kudaru, Nakagyo-ku (京都市中京区車屋町通二条下る)
Check out the Honke Owariya website for other items on the menu and prices: http://www.honke-owariya.co.jp/english/