My friend Emily and I have a long list of restaurants that we want to visit in London, most of which are by my office in Soho. We have decided to eat our way through our lists and started with KOYA.
KOYA, which is in the heart of Soho, opened over three years ago and like the ‘do one thing very well’ philosophy of Japan, they have dedicated their skills to Udon noodles.
Like many restaurants in Japan, from the outside it is very understated and discreet. I actually cycled past it twice before having to ask where it was which was embarrassing as it was just behind me! This minimalistic theme continues on the inside where there are simple wooden tables and chairs with the menus being Woodblock printed on the walls.
Although the restaurant focuses on Udon Noodles, there are various other delights available to choose from and we decided to start with a bowl of vegetable tempura (left). The tempura batter was light, crispy and most importantly not greasy. It came with a little dish of accompaniments of ginger, sesame seeds, and spring onion. The broccoli was definitely my favourite.
Following our tempura, we turned our attention to the Udon. Before visiting Koya, I hadn’t realised that Udon can be served in so many different ways. Cold Udon with hot broth, hot Udon with cold broth, cold Udon with dipping sauce, and the list goes on! After much deliberation I decided to go for a bowl of hot Udon and hot broth with duck (right). The base of the broth was a dashi stock, a staple in Japan the main ingredient of which is dried bonito flakes. This “consommé like” clear broth, that packed plenty of flavour, concealed within it the perfect Udon noodles which I understand the chefs spend up to five hours every morning making, with their feet.
For such a small and modest establishment, Koya really does pack a punch and I will definitely be going back sometime in the near future. Get yourself down there, you won’t be disappointed.
by Jessie Stratton