Okinawa soba in a 150 year old house

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When one thinks of soba noodles, the first thing that comes to mind is the thin buckwheat noodles served with a dipping sauce. Okinawa soba is entirely different. Okinawa soba noodles are thicker, resembling the Chinese ramen noodles, and are served in a hot broth.

Udunyama is a soba noodle house located in a 150-year-old house surrounded by lush greens on top of a hill in the Shuri district. There are two other branches in Naha and one in Fukuchi.

I rented an electric bike from a bike shop a few feet away from the Shuri station. As the area is quite hilly, I’m glad I rented an electrically assisted bicycle. It would have been taxing trying to cycle up the slope on a conventional bike. The bike ride was less than 10 minutes; I followed google map’s directions, it was not hard to find.

You have to take your shoes off before entering the restaurant. The restaurant has a homey feel, serene and relaxing. This is probably the most peaceful noodle house I have been to. Occasionally, there was a gentle breeze. There are tatami-style seatings indoors and a few tables and benches outdoors.

The waitress who served me was friendly. She told me how to eat the soba noodles in the Okinawan way, which is to eat the noodles with pickled ginger.

The restaurant serves four kinds of toppings for the soba. First, there is the Okinawa soba (soba with two slices of pork belly and fish cake), Nankotsu Soki Soba (Soba with pork cartilage sparerib), Yasai soba (vegetable soba), and Yushi tofu soba (soba with local fluffy tofu). There is also the special set meal: the Udunyama set, which consists of Okinawa soba, Okinawan rice, Okinawan pork rib, and a small dish (which changes seasonally).

There are two choices of noodles – white noodles or wheat noodles. Both noodles are made using the Banyan tree ash water. I read that it is a troublesome process to make this ash water, and this goes to show Uduyama’s dedication to making a good bowl of soba.

I went for the Udunyama set, which cost 1580 yen. The noodles had a nice chew and springiness to them, with a delicious umami broth. The pork belly was tender and flavorful. The pickled ginger further elevated the flavors of the soup. The fried rice was lightly seasoned, allowing each component to stand out on its own.

This was one of the memorable places I have eaten at in Naha – Great location and ambiance, delicious food, and excellent service.

Udunyama

Website: http://udunyama.com/

Opening hours: Every day except Monday – 11:30 a.m. to 16:30 p.m.

Telephone: +81 98-885-5498

Address: 1-121-2 Shuri Ishibuchicho, Naha City

Italian food at Gianni’s Cafe

Gianni is located in the Sadama neighborhood, not too far away from Rotermann City. Gianni has a cafe and restaurant. I initially planned to dine at the restaurant. However, I was unaware that the cafe was attached to the restaurant, so I ended up in the cafe. The cafe has a simple menu, while the restaurant offers a more extensive upscale menu consisting of seafood and meat dishes. The decor of the cafe was elegant and airy. However, I thought the chairs were a bit gaudy.

The salad was delicious with a beautiful Balsamic vinaigrette. The greens were fresh, and the chicken was perfectly seasoned and cooked. The shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano encapsulates each bite with a lovely nutty, sharp, and savory taste. The overall flavor was all rounded, coats your whole mouth.

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the pasta. It was oily and bland. The taste of the oil overpowered the whole dish. In addition, the pasta was a little firm for my taste. I requested that the pasta be cooked a little softer, and the chef was kind to make a new plate.

Gianni cafe was announced as the best cafe in Tallinn in 2018. I was expecting better service and food; perhaps the food and the service at the restaurant would be more promising.

 

Gianni 

Website: http://www.gianni.ee/en/cafe/

Opening hours:

Cafe

Monday – Friday 8:00 — 20:00
Saturday 9:00 — 21:00
Sunday 10:00 — 20:00

Restaurant

Monday – Sunday 12:00 — 23:00

Telephone: +372 626 3684

Address: Jõe 4a, 10151 Tallinn