At Sobaya Nicolas, a portentous Michelin-starred soba (buckwheat noodle) restaurant in the north of Kyoto, it’s impossible not to notice the signs — written in Japanese and English — forbidding photography. Unfortunately, this creates an atmosphere not unlike that of a museum, and to even glance at your phone may evince latent desires to take a picture.
Perhaps it’s just better to put your phone away altogether and concentrate on the food, which is presumably what the husband-and-wife team who run Nicolas intended with their no-photo signs. The a la carte menu here is so comprehensive and inventive that you could actually forego trying the soba Nicolas is known for. Or you could kill two birds with one stone and try the sobazushi, vinegary soba studded with maitake mushrooms and omelette, and wrapped in seaweed. I ordered it more for the novelty than anything else, but as with each dish that preceded it, it was well executed, delicious and, of course, picturesque.