Kyoto is known for its 'Kaiseki' cuisine, delicate and refined dishes of seasonal vegetables, but not even geisha eat it all the time; sometimes you just want something hearty and filling. Within shouting distance of Yasaka-jinja shrine, Mimikou is a small, inexpensive noodle shop, a good place to come for a big bowl of comfort food.
The interior downstairs is cosy and simply decorated, with seven seats at a wooden counter that has a handy shelf underneath for coats and bags. (I assume there are tables upstairs, but I didn't go and look.) There are unfussy prints, calligraphy and colorful fans on the walls, and the soft piano jazz BGM is pretty relaxing, though I'd have expected something with a more local flavor. There's also a rack of items for sale by the door, so you can buy some tea, noodles or soup stock to take away and enjoy at home.
Of the many choices on the English menu I went with the extra thin, extra spicy curry udon noodles, with a soft-boiled egg and lumps of fried tofu in the mix, which came thoughtfully served with a paper bib to prevent shirtfront splashage. It wasn't particularly spicy to my taste, but the soup did lend some taste to the noodles, which were pleasantly 'al dente', firm to the bite but chewy. The tofu was good and soft, but also pleasantly chewy, and had a slightly sweet taste that offset the curry nicely.
The menu offers a number of options: you can choose from regular soup, curry, or 1.5 times spicy curry, and the noodles can be regular or thin. Dishes are all about ¥800 or ¥900, and include shrimp, chicken, stewed pork, and beef, while for one or two hundred yen more you can add toppings such as egg, soft cheese, tempura or chicken meatballs. The drinks menu is pretty limited, with beer or a plum liquor highball costing ¥480 each.
If you're weary after a day's sightseeing around eastern Kyoto, or if you want to fortify yourself for a night out on the town, or both, then a big bowl of Mimikou udon is just the thing!