I have only recently heard about Koya, which specialise in Udon (a type of Japanese noodle). It is not the first place in London that serves Udon but you do not see many place here that specialise in freshly made Udon. So I could see the excitement of people and a reason that there are queue of people wanting to try out what this place has to offer.
When we arrived there was a small queue outside the restaurant but we did not have to wait too long before we manage to get a table. To our delight we even got the counter seat area where it was facing the kitchen. We could see the action going on in the Kitchen.
The restaurant has been decorated simple and has this Japanese feel about it from outside and inside. All the tables and chairs are wooden and with the wall covered with the menu. It brought back those times when I was in Japan and the table sharing with unknown people also remind me of Hong Kong, as it was typical to be sharing tables in small restaurant.
The service was on a bit of a down side which I am not sure if it was where we was sitting was a bit separate from the main restaurant. But we had to call a staff to get a menu and to place an order. The only menu we could see was the special menu that was on hand written on a blackboard. We stuck to the main menu which was two sides. On side was the range of Udon on offer and on the other side are don (rice bowl), small dishes and drinks.
As Koya is known for Udon that is what we stuck to. There are a range of hot udon in hot broth, as well as different variety of cold Udon. There are cold Udon served with hot broths or with cold sauce to dip or with cold sauce to pour. The range of cold Udon was appealing but I wanted to go back to the simple Udon soup.
I went for Buta Miso (pork and miso Udon soup) – £8.50. Additional to this I decided to added Onsen Tamgo (poached egg) – £1.50, from the choice of extra topping. When it arrive it was a whole egg in it shell and I wad thinking could this really be a poached egg or when they mean poached egg it is just a raw egg. But to my surprise when I cracked it open there was a poached egg that slipped perfectly on to my Udon. It was cooked to my perfection with the yolk still a little runny. This is exactly how I like to have my Udon at home!
I thought the poached egg brought my Udon to live and made it more exciting. The pork was like braised pork that was covered with miso sauce, which took me a few wiggle from my chopstick to work out if I got the right Udon. The broth is a clear light one but my miso slowly mixed in to the clear broth to covert it to a miso broth which gave it a stronger taste.
The Udon itself was a chewy and was at the right texture so it was not too soft from being soaked in the broth.
We also ordered a Tempura Udon (Prawn tempura Udon soup)- £9.00. You get a giant King prawn that was beautifully fried in a light batter.
As well as Udon, we also tried the fish and chips (cod tempura and lotus root chips) – £7.00. This was a clever Japanese style fish and chips, that smell and tasted like you expect a fish and chips to taste like. With this dish you get a dipping which had an acidic lemony taste that comes with a small plate of chopped spring onions and radish to add to it, just like you do with cold noodle. This dipping was a good compliment to the cod tempura and the lotus root chips.
I do like the cod tempura as it was lightly battered and therefore allow me to still have the taste of smooth juicy cod. I much prefer this then a heavy battered cod!
For drinks we ordered the hot Japanese tea – £2.20 per pot. But there are choice of cold Oolong tea, hot ginger (according to the mean homemade), apple juice, coca cola and also a range of wine shochu, beer and sake.
Overall, a great experience which made me felt for a while I was on vacation in Asia somewhere. Although, the service was not totally on top and I probably be happy if had the choice to have not paid all of the £3.04 service charge for two. I would not say it is a cheap eat since the drinks and service charge can add up to easily go over £10 per head. But it has something different to it which you cannot find elsewhere in London at the moment. It will be interesting how Koya will be in the future………
49 Frith Street,