Nagasaki Prefecture’s Goto Islands are famed for their signature hand-stretched (tenobe) udon noodles, which are thinner and have a chewier consistency than your average noodle. They’re also renowned for their healthy, delicious camellia oil (tsubaki), which comes from Shinkamigoto Island and is used for cooking the noodles, and for a type of flying fish called ago, which forms the base of the soup stock.
Luckily, there’s no need to travel all the way to Kyushu to try this special udon. Facing Yamate-dori in Nakameguro you’ll find a stylish izakaya called Goto Tenobe Udon Yabu no Tsubaki Nakameguro, or Yabu no Tsubaki for short, where you can enjoy these unique noodles – and even cook the dish yourself.
The exterior is decorated in white and red camellia flowers, and when you step inside you’ll find even more of these pretty flowers. The nostalgic atmosphere of the wooden interior is welcoming and the layout of counters and separate tables make it the perfect spot for both single customers and groups.
Cook Your Own Udon
As mentioned, the restaurant’s claim to fame is the hand-stretched udon — but it’s not just the noodles themselves. When you order Gotoshima Meibutsu Tenobe Udon Jigoku Taki (Goto Islands’ Famous Hand-stretched Udon Hell-Cook), all the ingredients come separately. You’ll also be presented with an iron pot on top of a portable gas stove (instead of a plastic or ceramic bowl) so that you can cook the dish yourself. As you watch it come to a boil before your very eyes, add the ingredients provided and cook it to your liking.
Secret Ingredients: Camellia Oil and Dashi
The noodles use Goto Island-sourced camellia oil when made, which protects them from the heat when cooking, ensuring their delightful chewy consistency. They’re served with an original mixture of four different spices to really bring out the flavors in the ago (a type of flying fish) dashi base. The dish also comes with raw egg and soy sauce for those who would like to dip their noodles, but you’re free to enjoy it in any way you like.
Local Pride Shown Through Kyushu-sourced Ingredients
Yabu no Tsubaki is recognized by Nagasaki Prefectures’s Goto Islands Hand-stretched Udon Association, making it one of a few across the country. However, though these unique noodles are one of the restaurant’s mainstays, there is plenty more to choose from. Yabu no Tsubaki also prides itself on fresh sashimi shipped in from the Goto Islands, as well as Kyushu-distilled imo shochu and regional sake, making a visit here a virtual gourmet journey to the southern isles.
Delicious Udon, Day or Night
Enjoy udon any time, as Yabu no Tsubaki is open both at lunch and dinner until late, every day of the year. If you’re not into the Goto Island-style udon, there are other types and even other soup bases. You’ll also find the winter favorite, oden, all year round. For those who don’t think udon is enough for a meal, there are plenty of side dishes to enjoy to satisfy those who could tuck into some more. You’ll be hardpressed to find this unique type of udon anywhere else in Tokyo!
For Goto Tenobe Udon Yabu no Tsubaki Nakameguro’s contact info, see our Concierge listing.
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Want to visit Nagasaki and try the udon in its birthplace? This might help you plan your trip to Kyushu: