For our next lunch, we went to Ukiya Soba. Ukiya is a small mini-chain, with 9 locations (we went to this one on Teramachi Street; the website has no English, but it's easy to find). The Teramachi shop is tiny, with 4 tables and about 12 seats in total. Ukiya specializes in soba, a Japanese buckwheat noodle which can be served hot with soup or cold with dipping sauce. They are known to have some of the best in Japan.
Soba is a bit of a "checklist" item for me when going to Japan, because it is just so much better there than back home. Soba is a highly respected item, and though you can find many fast food versions of it, there are also many family-run soba joints that have passed on their secrets from generation to generation. To give you an idea, Ukiya has been in operation since 1929, which is actually quite young for a famous soba house - another famous place in Kyoto, Owariya, has been around for 540 years. In the US, you can pretty much only find the dried, pre-made, packaged wholesale version of these noodles; I don't know of a restaurant here that actually makes soba fresh. Ukiya makes it fresh every morning, and the difference is obvious. Check out Kyoto Foodie for some cool pics of the soba-making process (side note - KF highly recommends the ukiten soba, but as a non-Japanese, my hate of natto stops me from ordering it).
Ukiya offers a bunch of different lunch sets. I opted for the tenzaru soba, a common pairing of cold soba with dipping sauce and a serving of tempura. The tempura of course wasn't quite as good as Yoshikawa from the night before, but the noodles were just wonderful. They're thin, feathery, and light, but still have a substantial, slight chew to them. I love cold soba because it so well highlights the "al dente-ness" in the noodle texture. It's a night and day difference from packaged soba, and I think fairly analogous to the difference between a freshly-made pasta and some Kraft macaroni.
Another bonus of eating at a good soba house is that, for reasons completely unknown to me, they also tend to specialize in oyako don, a humble dish of rice topped with chicken and eggs. This is one of my dad's favorite things. I prefer katsu-don, but I will never turn down a smooth, almost creamy oyako-don like the one pictured. The key is the slight runniness of the eggs mixing with the (dark meat) chicken and the hot rice.
Either is enough for a quick lunch, but of course we had a bit of everything (for the 4 of us, we ended up with 4 sets of noodles and just 1 oyako don to try). If you're in Kyoto, definitely check out one of the Ukiya locations for lunch. You'll probably run into mostly solo diners stopping for a quick lunch break. But really, if you go anywhere in Japan, there should be a serviceable soba shop somewhere nearby. Any decent soba shop will be a vast improvement compared to what's served in the US.