The days are shrinking and tinged with frostiness on both ends. I wrap my scarf tighter to ward off the bite in the breeze. Along with the seasons, my mood is shifting… darker, melancholic, needy… The turn of the season is when I most crave comfort food. No more light salads or slippery sushi. I need more… I need something satisfying, filling, warming, generous… and healthy.
I found comfort food with a capital C in a bowl of steaming noodles at Ukiyo Noodle bar and Restaurant – in Avenue de Frontenex in Eaux Vives.
Judging by the popularity of this Japanese restaurant (the second one to open in Geneva recently – the first one is on Place de Grenus near Manor), I’m not the only one in need of comfort food.
I visit the restaurant with my friend, Caro Blackwell, the talented photographer and blogger at Taste of Savoie, who took all the lovely photographs on this page.
On the day of our visit the tables are packed with lunchtime workers tucking into enormous bowls of soup as if it’s their last meal on earth.
We start our journey with a shared plate of homemade Kimchi – pickled, spicy Chinese cabbage (CHF6.50) and some deliciously goo-ey gyozas (Japanese ravioli filled with chicken) to share. (CHF8 for 6)
THE MAIN COURSE
What followed was bliss in a bowl… we shared the Ebi tempura Udon noodles (CHF23.50) – ultimately satisfyingly thick and tasty white wheat flour noodles made fresh in the restaurant every day using a special machine imported from Japan. The noodles are served in a dashi – a tasty broth flavoured with wakame (a type of edible seaweed), tempura flakes and spring onions and served with a slice of kamaboko. (a type of cured surimi – a processed seafood product)
Alongside are two crispy tempura shrimps – which can be placed on top to add to this delicious cocktail of flavours.
Still a bit greedy, er needy – we simply had to try: The Niku Udon (CHF24.50), which takes 3 whole days to prepare and is the bestseller on the menu.
The Udon noodles are served in the same delicious broth and topped with beef strips – almost minced – and onion, which had been marinated in a soya, saké and sugary sauce. The taste is out of this world.
If I HAD to choose between the two, though, I preferred the Ebi Udon – simply because I’m not that much of a meat eater, but both are well worth trying.
All the dishes we tried could have come straight from the streets of Tokyo, where bowls of noodle soup are served ‘sur la pouce’ on the go any time of day.
The restaurant also offers a Vegan Udon – with shitake mushrooms, if you’re not into meat and several Ramen and rice dishes.
LOVE AT FIRST BITE
Finally, we ended our meal with the cutest and most exquisite cherry blossom- flavoured Mochi (moulded pounded rice paste filled with ice-cream) eaten with a delicate little fork. (CHF3.50)
I’d never tasted Mochi before and it was love at first bite!
If you have a chance to look up from your bowl – you ‘ll notice the stunning wall fresco of a Manga character.
The service is fast and the atmosphere lively enough to warm up the chilliest day.
The food comes with a huge plastic bib to encourage you to noisily slurp your noodles – as is traditional in Japan.
TOP TIP: Sharing a bowl of noodles is not glamorous – Go on, order your own bowl!