In these, our ramen days, one could almost be forgiven for forgetting or not knowing about London’s best noodle restaurant: Koya. That’s not to say it’s not busy – you will still queue for seat until the tail end of service – but until PR builds for the opening of their second site next door, Koya’s impeccable udon noodles may fall under many people’s radar. Which is a bit silly. Because as enjoyable as some of the ramen spots are, Koya occupies another level.
For a long time, I found it difficult to diverge from my staple of tempura veg (Yasai Ten Mori) to share, followed by cold noodles, hot pork and miso broth (Buta Miso Hiya-Atsu) to greedily keep to myself. I still commend that order to any first timer. But my One Good Reason to go, go, and go again to Koya, is actually their Daily Specials board.
A word of warning: very occasionally, a few of the smaller items will feel a little spenny. But, more often than not, if you order from the blackboard you will strike gold. Options always reflect the best of Japanese technique and flavour, often combined with a unique take on British ingredients.
The scallop, broad bean and pea shoot dashi, pictured above, struck a perfect balance between freshness and comfort. I remember seemingly simple but mighty effective miso marinated wild salmon and soused mackerel dishes; grouse and girolles with mustard garlic leaves; insanely more-ish curly udon fries with a miso ketchup; and, recently, a no frills but beautiful grilled red mullet, and a monkfish and monkfish liver udon noodle soup – which was probably the best thing I have eaten this year, and is likely to still be in the mix in December.
Like I said: go, go, and go again.
Koya - 50 Frith Street, W1D 4SG
One Good Reason
The Daily Specials board. Keep an eye on owner John Devitt’s twitter feed @KoyaUdon for what’s in store. You will never be disappointed with the special udon …