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 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. Trying to cycle up the slope on a conventional bike would have been taxing. The bike ride was less than 10 minutes; I followed Google Maps directions, and 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 seating 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 Banyan tree ash water. I read that it is a troublesome process to make this ash water, which shows 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, 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 most memorable places I have eaten at in Naha – Great location and ambiance, delicious food, and excellent service.
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