Yes I have SERIOUSLY missed the boat on this place and yes there are a gazilion fabulous reviews about Koya (including The Skinny Bib, Gourmet Chick, Hollow Legs to name a few), but I had to share my love for the incredible Udon I had there last week. The simple and stylish noodle bar is located on the bustling Frith Street in Soho. Get there at 12.30 on a weekday and you can join the quick moving queue of working lunchers who are there to slurp down udon whilst trying not to get broth on their suit. It’s a busy, popular place but thanks to the minimalist decor, shared tables and quick, friendly service, you never feel rushed and the place is rarely overcrowded.
I thought I knew what an udon noodle was like from the Amai Udon I’ve tried at Wagamama’s, but having tried it here at Koya, I have a whole new respect for it. Fat, thick, silky, firm and, thanks to it being made by foot every single day on the premises, so fresh. They serve the udon four ways; hot udon in hot broth; cold served on the side of hot broth; cold with cold sauce to dip; and cold with cold sauce to pour. I found this choice a little too much and I was pushed for time so went for something familiar and not too daring, prawn tempura with hot udon in hot broth. The dashi broth was simple, gentle and warming and a fabulous accompaniment to the bouncy noodles and the huge crispy prawns. I don’t regret my choice, but do look forward to going and trying some of the different dishes on offer including Pork and Miso paste cold udon with hot broth and Smoked mackerel with green leaves with cold udon and cold sauce to pour.
There are also some little side dishes on the menu that whetted my appetite and varied the meal. We had Roast duck (£6.20), served warm with a sweet soya and spring onion dressing with a mind blowingly wasabi-esq mustard. A beautiful little dish thanks to the succulent meat and complimenting flavours you could dip in and out of as much as you liked, and a special starter of Shungiku Leaves with Fried tofu & tofu sauce. This dish was less inspiring. It was cold and lacked flavour so I found myself dipping it very carefully into the hot mustard just to spice it up a bit.
The total for the meal for two was £22, but if I had gone with my boyfriend, I know we would have spent considerably more. These dishes kept me and my friend locked up till tea but wouldn’t have done for dinner. Unfortunately we didn’t stretch to any sneaky booze with our meal as wine started at £11.20 for 400ml, and beer was £3.70 a small bottle, far too pricey. Overall though, this was such a good lunch. I cannot wait to go back again.