Shaved ice is a summer tradition. Nowadays, we rarely see such a scene.
There are many restaurants that serve shaved ice in the summer, but the shaving method and syrups used can affect the quality of the shaved ice. While some stores are positioned as desserts with meals, there are certainly a few stores that have people standing in line just for shaved ice.
The store introduced here is a long-established sweet shop in Kyoto City where customers line up for shaved ice. After enduring the intense heat and waiting in line, shaved ice tastes even better than fresh beer, don’t you think?
Nakamurakaken｜A long-established sweet shop in front of Katsura-rikyu in Kyoto, famous for its Mugite mochi (rice cake)…In addition to green tea and Japanese sweets, customers line up for shaved ice in summer!
Nakamuraken is a long-established sweet shop established in 1881. Located next to Katsura Rikyu, Nakamuraken is a famous Japanese confectionery store that is often used by the imperial family because of its location. It is famous for its wagashi called “Mugite mochi,” which is made by burning split wood in an okudo-san (kamado) to slowly heat the rice and cook it in a traditional way to make it fluffy. The mochi can also be purchased at famous department stores and other stores.
I visited Nakamuraken on a sunny Sunday in July. There is a counter selling wagashi at the front of the store, and the air between the counter and the tatami room in the back is a waiting area for customers, but it was already saturated with kimono-clad couples and families. It is indeed a popular place.
When arriving at the store, you will first register to wait your turn at the automatic numbered ticket printing machine. When your turn comes, you will be called and asked to wait in the waiting area inside the restaurant or outside near the restaurant. At the time of my visit, there were nine customers waiting for their turn, but the turnover time was fairly quick and I was shown to a room in the back of the tatami room after about 15 minutes of waiting.
Nakamuraken is famous for its Mugite mochi…wagashi and green powdered tea are good, but in summer, shaved ice is the way to go!
Nakamuraken’s eating space consists of tables and counter seats in the back of the tatami room, which can be seen from the storefront. There is room for 40-50 people, and most of them were eating shaved ice.
I was shown to a counter seat overlooking the courtyard. I was shown to a counter seat overlooking the courtyard, a perfect spot to view the Japanese-style tsuboniwa garden through the large glass window in front of me. Looking at the well-maintained flowers, plants, and lanterns, I felt that it was enough to heal my heart. This makes the shaved ice even more delicious…
Here is Nakamuraken’s standard shaved ice menu and prices…
- Milk ice 790 yen
- Milk Kintoki: 930 yen
- Uji Ice 790 yen
- Uji Kintoki 930 yen
- Uji Milk Ice 890 yen
- Uji Milk Kintoki: 1030 yen
- A little bite of Uji Kintoki 590 yen
- Katsura uri ice 590 yen
- Sleet 720 yen
- Oshima ice (molasses) 720 yen
- Anmitsu ice 890 yen
- Koorika (with plum wine jelly) 790 yen
- Yuzu ice: 890 yen
Seasonal mango ice: Enjoy the collaboration of rich, sticky syrup and fluffy ice as soon as possible…
In addition to the standard menu items above, Nakamuraken also offers seasonal shaved ice that cannot be found anywhere else. This June started with strawberries, now mangoes, and will be followed by sudachi and figs in the future.
I ordered the seasonal mango shaved ice (820 yen including tax), which arrived about 10 minutes later…
A pile of ice rose high from the glass bowl, topped with a thick, sticky mango syrup and a piece of mango pulp.
After thinking for a moment, I decided to scrape it off from the side of the mountain and put the spoon into the right side of the mountain. The spoon went into the ice without any effort, and the fineness of the shaved ice was evident.
No matter which side of the mountain you put the spoon into, the shaved ice is as fine as powder snow…the ice is so fluffy that it melts in your mouth and goes down your throat without cooling your mouth excessively.
Another surprise is that the shaved ice does not lose its shape when shaved into a pile with a spoon. It must be very difficult to achieve the same result with the soft texture of the ice. That is why the shaved ice is on a different level from the shaved ice you can get at a festival fair.
If you are thinking, “There is too much ice and not enough syrup…,” don’t worry. If you look at the cross section, you will see that there is another layer of syrup inside. This way, you can enjoy the mango syrup all the way to the end. And if that’s not enough, there’s more syrup for those who want more! If you are not satisfied with the syrup, they will serve you additional syrup.
Enjoying shaved ice, a summer tradition, in front of a tsuboniwa garden that is typical of Kyoto…this is a tasteful way to spend a daytime.
Shiro-miso Zoni: More than just an elegant dish…Nakamuraken’s winter-only menu offers an unparalleled breadth of flavors
Nakamuraken has a special winter menu. That special treat is the winter-only Shiro-Miso Zoni (priced at 950 yen). What does this Kyoto-style zoni taste like, made with white miso from Yamatoshi, a long-established restaurant said to be the best in Kyoto?
So I revisited Nakamuraken one winter Sunday. The teahouse opens at 9:30 in the morning, but when I entered about 10 minutes after 9:30, there were already several customers ahead of me enjoying their ozoni.
So without further ado, let me introduce you to Nakamuraken’s ozoni…
A large bowl of pure white miso soup is poured into the bowl. There is supposed to be a rice cake in it, but you can’t see what is inside from the surface. Digging a little deeper, I found…
It contains two pure white rice cakes and a slice of taro. It is a simple, unadorned ozoni, but that makes it seem even more luxurious.
First, take a sip of the soup… The slightly thickened sauce coats my tongue, and then the slight sweetness unique to white miso gently spreads over my entire mouth. Even after passing through my throat, the heat from the otsuyu gradually spreads through my stomach and warms my body, making me feel warm to the core.
The round rice cakes, made every morning from Omi’s Habutae glutinous rice, are evenly pounded, smooth, and very soft. The taro is also very soft and tender, and is a heart-warming dish on its own…
When shavings are thrown in here, the flavor of the soy sauce changes dramatically. It is amazing. Of course, the dried bonito flakes are different from those used at home. But with just this one addition, the flavor explodes, or rather, the two-dimensional world is transformed into a three-dimensional world. I’m hooked. I want to try making this at home, too.
Incidentally, this shiro-miso zoni is also sold for take-out. It is also available by mail order, so if you are interested, please visit the store’s website on the Internet.
Mugite Mochi: The combination of the overly sticky outer rice cake and the refreshingly sweet bean paste is truly a superior Japanese confectionery!
After finishing the white miso zoni, I decided to fill up the remaining space in my stomach with another specialty of Nakamuraken, the famous Mugite Mochi (priced at 300 yen)…
It is considerably larger than I had imagined. It is about 14 to 15 cm from edge to edge. If you don’t need such a big one, you can choose a mini size for 220 yen per piece.
I immediately tried to break the inside with a bamboo knife…the outer mochi was so sticky that it was difficult to break it into two pieces. It took 4 to 5 minutes to reach this state. There is no reason why such a glutinous Japanese confectionery should not be delicious, but it is a little difficult to eat.
The store staff said, “If you don’t like to cut it, you can grab it by hand,” but the soybean flour will stick to your hands and it won’t look good… In that sense, it may be a little difficult for women to eat a regular-sized piece.
And then, the first bite… The mochi outside was as I had expected, but I cannot describe the delicacy of the mochi as it was transmitted through the mucous membranes of my mouth. The red bean paste inside is also refreshingly sweet, and is truly an “honor student” of Japanese confectionery. It goes well with the green tea (osu, priced at 460 yen) that I ordered with it. If you visit Kyoto, it is worth stopping by Nakamuraken for this treat.
Perfect for a break after a day of sightseeing at Katsura Rikyu… To get to Nakamuraken, take the bus from the east exit of Katsura Station on the Hankyu Kyoto Line, the nearest station, and get off at Katsura Rikyu-mae.
Now, here are the details of the restaurant…
Address: 61 Asahara-cho, Katsura, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Phone number: 075-381-2650
Business hours: 7:30-18:00 (Tea house 9:30-17:45 LO)
Closed: Wednesday (open on national holidays)
Credit card payment: Not accepted when using the teahouse
P.S. If you are looking for delicious ozoni in Kyoto, please stop by this article below…
P.P.S. Pure Japanese-style teahouses are good, but we also recommend cafes where you can drink high-grade organic coffee and high mountain tea from Taiwan…