Extremely eggy curry udon is just one reason why this restaurant is perfect for a pre-departure meal on your last day in Kyoto.

Pretty much every major train station in Japan has a few restaurants inside the building, but your chances of eating at the station are particularly high in Kyoto. The city is full of amazing temples, shrines, and gardens, most of which open relatively early in the day. That makes it easy to fill up a morning itinerary with visits to sights of tranquil beauty and cultural importance, even if you’re going to be leaving Kyoto later that day, which then means you end up needing to grab a quick bite to eat just before hopping on your train out of town.

This isn’t a bad thing at all, though, because our Japanese-language reporter K. Masami recently found an amazing dish waiting at a restaurant hiding in plain sight at Tsukumo Udon, a restaurant inside Kyoto Station. We say it was hiding in plain sight because the restaurant itself has a pretty big sign by the entrance telling passersby about the dish, but it was unlike anything Masami had eaten before.

▼ Tsukumo Udon

Tsukumo Udon, as you might guess, serves udon noodles. They’re especially proud of their toriten udon, udon with slices of tempura chicken, and they’re proudest of what they call the Toriten Keiran Curry Udon. Keiran is a fancy word for “chicken egg,” and Tsuumo Udon adds enough egg to the curry broth to give it a golden color and creamy/fluffy consistency.

When the wait staff placed Masami’s bowl in front of her, the extreme egginess meant she couldn’t even see the noodles! She started by tasting a spoonful of broth, and was rewarded with a delicious harmony between the egg, curry, and niboshi (sardine) stock that forms the base of Tsukumo’s udon broth (niboshi stock is a popular and traditional noodle broth base in Kyoto).

The egg does an excellent job of smoothing out any sharp edges to the flavor the curry of niboshi stock might have had on their own, and also provides a satisfying texture as it slides down your throat.

Searching with her chopsticks, Masami found the noodles hanging out below the surface. Once again, the egg makes a big difference, since it allows the broth to cling to the udon, making every bite full of flavor. Sometimes, curry noodles can feel a bit busy as they fire off so many taste receptors all at once, but somehow the Toriten Keiran Curry Udon manages to feel simple and straightforward, in the best possible sense of those words.

After eating a bit more of the noodles, Masami found that beneath the eggy surface broth and noodles, there’s a third stratum at the bottom, where you’ll find curry broth with stronger spice sensations. Ultimately, she recommends giving everything a few good stirs with your chopsticks to combine all three layers, so that you can enjoy the dish in its true, final form.

▼ The pieces of tempura chicken are served half-submerged in the broth, but Masami thinks the best thing to do is to let them fully soak for a while so they can absorb the maximum amount of flavor.

This is a very filling bowl of noodles, just the thing to keep your stomach from rumbling if you’ve got a long train ride either back home or to your next Japanese travel destination.

But should you still be hungry after finishing all the noodles and tempura chicken, you’ll be happy to know that the Toriten Keiran Curry Udon comes with a bowl of white rice…

that you’re encouraged to add to any leftover broth you have to make a mini curry bowl, which Masami did and absolutely recommends you do too.

At 890 yen (US$6.45), the Toriten Keiran Curry Udon is friendly to your travel budget, and if you don’t need the tempura chicken, Tsukumo has an even more affordable version for just 690 yen. There are plenty of other things for travelers to be thankful for here too. You pay by pre-purchasing a meal ticket from a vending machine by the entrance, meaning there’s no need to spend time waiting for your check or a cashier to ring you up after you finish eating. The restaurant has both tables and a stand-and-eat area, so you’re in good shape whether your feet are tired from sight-seeing or if time is so much of the essence that you don’t have time to sit down. You’re provided with a paper apron to prevent curry broth splattering onto your clothes (so you’ll still look good in all your travel photos). Tsukumo Udon is even located outside the ticket gate (right by the Chika Higashi-guchi gate), so you can use it regardless of whether you’re getting on the Shinkansen or a regular train, and you can even have one last meal with any of your Kyoto-based friends you’re about to say goodbye to.

Add it all up, and Masami thinks she might not eat at any other Kyoto Station restaurant again now that she knows about Tsukumo and their Toriten Keiran Curry Udon.

Restaurant information
Tsukumo Udon (Shiokoji branch) / つくもうどん(塩小路本店)
Address: Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Shimogyo-ku, Higashi Shiokoji-cho 901
Open 6 a.m.-11 p.m. (weekdays), 6 a.m.-10:30 p.m. (weekends)

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