Soba Rojina opened earlier this summer, and in a few short months it has garnered a reputation for its high-quality handmade soba. It’s a busy spot and food takes time to arrive — not too long, but longer than some people might want to wait during the precious lunch hour.
The front of this long, narrow shop has been renovated to look like a modern machiya (Kyoto town house). Once you push back the noren (curtains) the first thing you’ll see is the soba workshop, where the master works the buckwheat flour into threadlike noodles. The counter dominates the room; there is seating at the back, but it’s cramped. The walls are bare, the mood wabi-sabi (simple and refined). The decent sake list helps liven things up.
I had a vegetable tempura mix before my main arrived; the maitake mushrooms and the tōgarashi (capsicum) were excellent. The smattering of matchajio — matcha powder and salt — mixed together was a nice local touch, too.
My main dish was umeoroshi soba, served cold. It was delicious, the plum providing a salty/sour taste. My companion had the old standard, morisoba (chilled noodles with a dipping sauce). Best value is the set lunch: morisoba and an assortment of accompanying dishes that should fill you up. Rojina is definitely worth dropping by.
691 Maruya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto; 075-286-9242; open 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., 5 p.m.-8 p.m. (closed Mon); nearest station Kyoto Shiyasho-mae; no smoking; soba dishes around ¥1,000; no English menu; no English spoken.