In a remote location about an hour by train from Osaka Minami, there is a restaurant called Jounetsu Udon Araki Denjiro, which draws long queues every day, and which won the Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2017 and was recently ranked first in the ranking of popular udon restaurants in Nara Prefecture in July 2022. If you know that such a restaurant exists, as an udon lover, you have to go there once, don’t you?
So, one weekend, I took a train from Kintetsu Osaka Abeno Station to Kashihara, aiming to get there before opening time. When I got off at the nearest station, Ukiko, I was surprised to find that the place was more tranquil than I had imagined…
Before opening, numbered tickets are distributed from around 9am… Jonetsu Udon Araki Denjiro is this kind of restaurant.
Jonetsu Udon Araki Denjiro was established in Tawaramoto-machi, Nara Prefecture in July 2010, and has been in business for 14 years this year. ‘” I wondered as I walked towards the shop.
I actually arrived at the shop at around 10:30, 30 minutes before opening time. There was no one in the shop and I easily got pole position. I thought to myself, “Well, that’s just how it is…” As you’d expect from this location, a long queue 30 minutes before the shop opened…’.
But actually, the situation was a bit different. While I was sitting on a bench in front of the shop waiting for it to open, a customer who arrived by car a few minutes after me passed me and was about to enter the shop. He noticed me just before I entered the shop and offered me to go ahead, but at that time I had no idea what he was offering me. I was just going in, thinking, “What’s that?” I went into the shop thinking, “What is it?” and found a numbered ticket machine on the right hand side of the entrance…
The order only went from number 1 to number 2, so not many people changed, but when I asked the waiter later, he told me that they start issuing these numbered tickets at around 9:00 in the morning. This means that if you arrive 30 minutes before the shop opens, depending on the day, you may have to wait quite a while. In fact, on this day too, customers started gathering after me in their cars and queuing up, so if you decide to eat udon here, I recommend you go as early as possible to get a numbered ticket.
On this day, I was lucky enough to be god enough to open the shop five minutes earlier than the official opening time! The interior of the restaurant was orthodox but clean, with seating for 22 customers in total, including six counter seats and six tables. The staff, including the owner, were all pleasant people and made us feel very comfortable. Children’s chairs are available, so families with small children can use the restaurant with peace of mind.
In fact, the fried chicken is one of the specialities… I customised and tried Araki Denjiro’s hearty set menu.
This time I ordered the famous ‼︎ guts karaage set (price: 1,500 yen including tax), which includes bukkake udon noodles and karaage, from the set menu, which is described as “full of volume” on the menu list. The udon in this karaage set was optionally changed to passion curry udon (price: extra 250 yen), and the order was increased to two balls of udon (price: extra 250 yen)…
After about 10 minutes of waiting after ordering, I regretted it a little when I saw what came out. The bowl of udon was huge. I was as shocked as I was when I ate the Stamina Ramen at the Tenri Stamina Ramen Main Store before. Of course, it is not just a pretty sight. There was a lot of noodles inside, along with curry broth… “Was two bowls of udon this big?” It was like, “Was two balls of udon really that much?
The volume was clearly larger than the cold deluxe large portion at Oniyanma Gotanda, which has a reputation as a huge udon restaurant in Tokyo. What’s more, this time it comes with five pieces of fried tofu, rice and salad. Well, it’s not an impossible amount to eat, but I didn’t think I’d have to put so much strain on my stomach here…
That aside, let’s start with the curry broth… The taste gives the impression of an orthodox curry broth with a good amount of kombu and shavings. The spice is fragrant, but the spiciness itself is moderate, and overall I felt that the taste is easily accepted by a wide range of people.
One disappointment for me personally was that the soup was only slightly thickened, but not too thick… it was more like you could just gobble it down. Actually, I was planning to eat it as curry and rice with the included white rice at the end, but unfortunately that plan fell apart without a second thought.
The noodles to this were more of a flat noodle type than Sanuki udon, and looked similar in thickness and form to the noodles at the popular Osaka restaurant “Odoru Udon”. The thickness of each strand was uneven, giving it a nice handmade feel. This time, the noodles were warm, but when I actually ate them, the fluffy and sticky texture stood out. The softness was comparable to that of the famous “Sanuki Udon Byakuan” restaurant in Kanzakigawa, which is often compared to ‘Shiratama’ (white balls).
Now, it seems that Araki Denjiro has a certified karaage specialist from the Japan Karaage Association, and karaage is one of their specialities. First and foremost, each karaage is huge! This visual alone makes you feel like you could eat three bowls of white rice if you like karaage, doesn’t it?
When you actually try it, the batter is relatively thick and crispy, while the breast meat inside is light and refreshing, and the sweetly seasoned soy sauce oozes out from the cross section. You can eat it as it is, or dip it in curry broth. Or is it just me, or does eating karaage make you want to drink beer? It seems that you can take this fried food home, so if you are a drinker living nearby, please consider it.
Araki Denjiro’s famous ‼︎ guts karaage set like this, minus the fact that the amount of noodles has been increased to 2 balls, the volume was true to the signboard, wasn’t it? The taste was just as good as you would expect from a Bib Gourmand award-winning restaurant. I think it’s especially hard to find udon noodles that are this soft and fluffy. That’s why it’s so popular. I could understand why people come from so far away in their own cars. Next time I have a chance to visit the restaurant, I would like to try the cold udon noodles to see how the noodles feel…
Other set menus at Jounetsu Udon Araki Denjiro (prices include tax)
- Karaage oroshi ponzu set: 1,650 yen
- Thick and hot egg deep-fried tofu rice bowl set: 1,500 yen
- Roast pork cutlet rice bowl set with broth and thickened egg ¥1,550
- Wagyu beef and egg go well together‼︎ Wagyu beef meat and egg donburi set ¥1,550
- Jonetsu curry and rice set ¥1,500
Udon can be selected as hot udon or cold bukkake udon, and can be customised with 1.5 balls of udon for +200 yen, 2 balls of udon for +250 yen, passion curry udon for +250 yen or a large serving of rice for +100 yen.
See the rest of the menu here…
Dashi broth is sold in the shop… Jonetsu Udon Araki Denjiro is a 10-minute walk from the nearest station, Ukiko Station on the Kintetsu Minami-Osaka Line.
Jonetsu Udon Araki Denjiro sells the soup stock used at the restaurant…
Ready-to-use liquid type and powdered packaged dashi… what does Spanish mackerel dashi taste like? This time I made curry udon so I couldn’t fully enjoy the dashi itself, but if you like Araki Denjiro’s udon dashi, try buying one for home use. Even the everyday dried noodles sold in supermarkets may have a different taste impression if you change the broth…
Now, here are the shop details. See shop data here…
Jounetsu Udon Araki Denjiro Out of 5.
Address: 1F South, Young Plaza, 146-1 Shindo-cho, Kashihara, Nara 634-0836, Japan
Opening hours: 11:00-15:00 (closes when sold out)
Credit card payment: not accepted (cash only).
P.S. If you are looking for good Japanese food in Nara Prefecture, please stop by this article…