London: Koya (~)

18 Jul

My friend who lives in London loves this udon restaurant called Koya in Soho. I know having Japanese food in London sounds a bit silly but since I don’t get much Japanese food where I live in China and an udon specialist place in London sounds interesting so off we went on a cold rainy day! It’s also a madly popular place so though we arrived at like 9pm, we had to queue for a while (no reservations allowed).

We shared a teapot of Hot Japanese Tea (£2.30) for drinks and ordered a Cod and Lotus Root Chips (£??) to start with. This was a cool Japanese twist on fish and chips, and was an absolute winner for me. The cod was deep fried with tempura batter and was hence very light, and comes with a refreshing Ponzu dip. I also loved crispy and novel the lotus root chips.

Koya serves three main types of udon dishes, hot udon in hot broth, cold udon in hot broth (to dip), and cold udon in cold broth (to dip or pour). I know, it’s a little confusing for the non-udon enthusiast. Since I wanted something hot, I went with the popular Smoked Mackerel with Green Leaves Hot Udon in Hot Broth (£10.50). The udon had a good springy texture and tasted freshly made. I’m actually partial to the fishy taste in mackerel (especially smoked ones), so I did like how it flavoured the light dashi broth. The “green leaves” tasted like very foreign freshly-picked mountain vegetables to me, so that was a nice touch.

My friend got the Prawn and Vegetable Tempura Cold Udon with Hot Broth (£13.60). I guess you can really appreciate the udon better when you dip it in a broth, instead of having it just in soup as it would probably get a bit soggy. As expected, the dipping broth is tastier than the soup broth. Quite interesting.

Koya definitely felt like an authentic Japanese experience and I’m glad I gave it a try, but with all the many more exciting restaurants to try in London, I think once is enough for me. If you’re ever in London craving Japanese food, or a comforting bowl of noodles – you know where to go.

Price: $$
Location: 49 Frith Street London W1D 4SG

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