Wherever you wander in Japan you'll come across eateries boasting the establishment's ancient heritage, in English. 'Since 2014' reads a cafe near my house, 'Since 2017' the patissier. Tagoto, in Kyoto's downtown Sanjo arcade, doesn't actually announce the date of its creation -1869 -the first year of the reign of the Meiji Emperor. Perhaps it should? It's been making wonderful, inexpensive soba buckwheat noodles ever, well, since.
Tagoto's founder was a gentleman who went by the splendid name of Tokubei the First. Obviously knew a thing or two about the soba business. Not least, 'location, location, location.' Tagoto is smack in the middle of things today, and pretty much always has been. Long before it was a tourist and shopping hub, the Sanjo district was a commercial center, and the westernmost point of the Tokaido, the crucial trading route that led from Kyoto to Tokyo, from the nation's past to the nation's future. Tagoto has been thriving there for 148 years.
Soba Buckwheat Noodles
Made using the purest Kyoto spring water, Tagoto's buckwheat noodles are light and pale in color. They are wonderfully delicate without losing any of the 'bite' and flavor that characterizes the finest buckwheat noodles.
Buckwheat Soba Poetics
Our favorites here are misogi soba, cold soba with small battered shrimp, originally a 'tribute dish' to the Kyoto court nobility, and good old tenzaru cold tempura soba (pictured above). If you fancy a little poetic symbolism with your noodles, try the tagoto soba, either hot or cold, in which seaweed portrays rice fields and a sake-steamed scallop portrays the moon.
If you are a sake fan, Tagoto has an excellent selection, including the locally-brewed 'daily sake' from the Gekkeikan brewery (below) served with a sake-ate appetizer of soba miso.