House of the Rising Lunch

Ramen and Soba at Kyoto


Kyoto has been a Salt Lake favorite since Sam and Yoshiko Toda opened the Japanese restaurant in 1984. Now it is owned by Main Course Management (Current, Stanza, Oasis, etc.) which, we are glad to report, is treating the venerable classic with gentle hands.

In charge is Peggy Ince-Whiting, also a longtime Salt Lake favorite. Despite the Japanese folk wisdom that women can’t be sushi chefs because their hands are too warm, Ince-Whiting has been making sushi in Utah for more than 30 years and was trained by Sushi Master Inou at Hama Sushi in Tokyo.

The rising tide of ramen inspired the recent additions to Kyoto’s midday menu—food writers and bloggers were invited to a noodle tasting event to sample the new dishes and MCM’s beverage director Jim Santangelo was enlisted to pair drinks with each one. Cold ramen noodles in garlic vinaigrette with cucumber and bay shrimp accompanied by sauvignon blanc from Justin was a dish you dream about when the mercury hits the nineties and cold soba (buckwheat noodles) with a mix-your-own sauce of soy, wasabi and daikon and a side dish of shrimp and vegetable tempura (Kyoto’s tempura is a go-to for me) was equally ethereal and earthy. Not to mention elegantly presented in a lacquered box.

I am always surprised by fresh corn on a Japanese menu—it’s such a quintessentially post-Columbian American food. So I Googled. Turns out field corn was introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in 1578—there’s even a Japanese word for it (tomorokoshi) which indicates it was common before the Japanese stopped making new words for foreign foods and settled for phonetic spelling (“hambaagaa” for “hamburger.”) Anyway, corn is now a Japanese favorite. At Kyoto, corn kernels added a pop of sweet to hot ramen served in the house miso broth, with tofu and fishcake and the lucky sliced hardboiled egg. Tonkatsu (another Western import) ramen was a hefty dish topped with pulled, roasted pork—better plan on a siesta if you order this for a midday meal. 1080 E. 1300 South, SLC, 801-487-3525

Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf is the late Executive Editor of Salt Lake magazine and Utah's expert on local food and dining. She still does not, however, know how to make a decent cup of coffee.

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