Perfect Soba Noodle Restaurant
Yoshimura is my most favorite Soba noodle restaurant (& Izakaya) in Kyoto. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour, and they have been loved by Japanese people for a long time since Edo period. Soba is one of the very affordable Japanese comfort foods - we see Soba noodle stands on the platforms of railway stations and on the streets anywhere in Japan. But there are also high-end Soba noodle restaurants offering not just Soba noodles but some other foods including savory appetizers such as grilled Chicken wings, fresh Sashimi, Egg Omelette, etc. to go with beers and premium Sake's. Yoshimura is one of such top-notch Soba noodle restaurants in Kyoto.
"Gojo Karasuma" Branch is my Favorite
Yoshimura is headquartered in Arashiyama area where there are a lot of things to see including Togetsukyo bridge (really pretty !), Bamboo grove, famous temples, etc. But I like Yoshimura in Gojo Karasuma just because it is located closer to where I live (plus the preparation of Soba noodles, IMO, is always perfect).
Yoshimura's Soba noodles are made fresh every day. They have 3 different types of noodles - Buckwheat Soba (100% Buckwheat flour), thin Soba (80% Buckwheat flour and 20% high-gluten flour) and country style Soba (80% Buckwheat flour and 20% high-gluten flour). I personally like thin Soba because the texture is smoother and it is easier to swallow (Japanese people love the smooth throat sensation when swallowing Soba noodles). 100% Buckwheat Soba has more Buckwheat flavor, so for those who want to enjoy the flavor of fresh Japanese Buckwheat, this will be the best choice. Country style Soba (more like "Soba de Campagne") is a little thicker and I think it has more texture (more bite). I have not tried the country style Soba, just because I prefer thinner noodles, so I can't tell if it is good or not (I am sure it is good, though).
Appetizers are Phenomenal
Yoshimura has a wide variety of premium Sake's including the ones locally brewed. Also, they have great food menu items besides the carefully crafted Soba noodles. I think the series of their appetizers are even better in quality than those offered at high-end Japanese traditional restaurants. For example, their daily Sashimi's are extremely fresh and beautifully presented. What I really like is a very affordable Soba set menu which comes with amuse-bouche (more like a good size assorted appetizer plate), chef's choice assorted Sashimi's, Soba noodles (cold or warm), plus a choice of draft Beer or a glass of Sake (cold or warm). That is less than Yen 2,500. I usually order more Beer and/or Sake, and end up with paying a bit more (total bill for two of us is usually less than Yen 7,000).
Great Lunch Deal
For lunch, Yoshimura offers various set-menus, such as Soba and assorted seasonal Tempura, Soba and Tempura Donburi or Chicken/Egg Donburi, etc. All between Yen 1,500 to Yen 2,500. Yoshimura is a pretty big restaurant with a number of tables, but the restaurant can be packed quickly in lunch time and in dinner time at weekends. Reservations ahead of time are essential to secure a table.
Service is superb and many of the staff on the floor speak English - they also have English menu for tourists visiting Japan from abroad (they even have Chinese and Korean menus).