Takayama is a beautiful city in central Japan’s Gifu Prefecture. Known for its well-preserved and picturesque old town, Takayama features narrow streets lined with historical shops and warehouses, a testament to the city’s history as a wealthy Edo Period merchant town. Located in the mountainous Hida region, Takayama is also known for the regional culinary specialty of soba, one of Japan’s great classics.
In the heart of Takayama’s old merchant quarter, Ebisu offers the chance to try the delicious buckwheat noodles while enjoying the restaurant’s charming atmosphere. Ebisu opened its doors in 1898, and can look back on more than 100 years of history. Since then, the restaurant has been known to serve handmade soba of the highest quality. Tradition has been preserved not only in the streets of Takayama. Ebisu’s interior design remains mostly unchanged since the Meiji Era, offering the chance for a unique journey into Japan’s past. A beautiful little garden is part of the authentic experience.
While soba is still handmade at Ebisu using freshly ground buckwheat flour, and dishes incorporate seasonal mountain vegetables as per tradition, this does not mean that everything has to be old-fashioned at this delightful little restaurant. And so, Ebisu not only provides menus in English and Spanish, a charming manga guide also serves to teach soba rookies how to eat, drink, and slurp the dish, which comes in both hot and cold varieties. Service is quick, efficient, and very welcoming. Even vegetarians can be catered for, with soba using a dashi-free broth, which is by no means commonplace at most traditional Japanese restaurants.
After careful deliberation, we opted for cold Zaru soba, served in a bamboo basket and accompanied by a cold dipping sauce, as well as Tororo Nameko soba, a hot soup with mushrooms and grated mountain potato. Tempura was also excellent at Ebisu, and for anyone not fond of buckwheat, the restaurant offers an ample selection of udon dishes.
Soba makes for a great lunch or early dinner, or breakfast even, as Ebisu opens as early as 10 am. And if you can’t get enough of delicious buckwheat noodles, make sure to take some dried soba home with you - the perfect omiyage from Takayama.