Kobe: Muragen (Ashiyagawa)

This is the tenth post on my recent food eating adventures to Japan. All other posts can be found here

E tells me that Muragen is her favourite place to have a meal at every time she’s back in Kobe. The owners still make their own soba from scratch and the restaurant is located in the hills beside the national park which allows for great views while having a great meal. The colours of the trees change with the seasons, which is a great incentive to keep coming back. What she didn’t tell me was that Muragen is famous enough to have garnered one Michelin star for its soba dishes.So after one very heavy night of drinking, E, her family and I, drove up to Muragen for a late lunch. The view was indeed gorgeous, lush green trees surrounding the glass and wooden restaurant structure. E’s parents told me that the previous owner had also been a master of Japanese gardens and landscaping and had been initiating a plan to develop the land surrounding the restaurant. Unfortunately, he passed away two years ago before he could complete the project. Currently, the restaurant is helmed by his daughter, and while she is doing a great job running the restaurant, the plans for the gardens appear to have lapsed with the passing of the previous owner…
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In the building adjacent to the restaurant, one is able to look at the machinery and equipment used for churning soba noodles.
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The interior of the restaurant feels very homey and peaceful. You can even sit outside if you wish and your soba there. We saw a couple sitting outside underneath the big umbrella and taking lots of photos with their soba – I can only imagine how great those photos would be.

We started off with some sake, eggplant and omelette appetizers.
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The menu is super old-school… luckily E’s parents took the time to explain it to me. They have cold and hot soba. Cold soba comes with either nori, radish or potato cream. Since it was a hot day, we all opted for cold soba.

I had the cold soba with radish. E’s mom suggested that I actually pour some sake on my soba (together with the soba sauce) so that I could have the sake taste while eating my soba. I really enjoyed the meal, the soba was really good and tasty. A word of warning – the radish was really hot hot and I totally suffered for it towards the end of the meal. After you finish your noodles, a pot of soba soup is brought to your table, and you’re supposed to mix it together with the remnants of the soba sauce and drink it like a broth. That was particularly delicious.

E got the potato soba, which is soba noodles served with a potato cream. This was really light and refreshing and definitely something which I would never find in Singapore.

It was great to have the opportunity to visit Muragen and have some really awesome soba noodles. If I were on my own, I probably would not have considered this place since one definitely needs a car to make it up here. E’s father joked that I have to come back once every season so that I can see the changing colours of the trees and of course, to have different types of soba as befitting the weather.

I am definitely inclined to do so.

Add: 1-23 Okuikeminamicho, Ashiya

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