I walked by Koya while walking around Soho a few weeks ago. It was a restaurant with no sign at the top, but a huge line up just like you would see at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka back home. I checked out the menu quickly and saw noodles and got really excited cause I thought I found a ramen shop here in London, but turned out that it was an udon shop. Nevertheless it immediately caught my interest because I never actually ate at an udon shop and was very curious to try. I told myself that I had to come back (I wasn’t about to wait in line for 30+ min in the freezing London weather).
I went on a Thursday for lunch at 1pm. I waited about 5 min (yep, still had to wait), and got a table shared with 2 other people. I was shocked after I checked out the menu. Udon started at ~£7 and it goes up to about £14 (~$22 cdn) for duck udon in hot pot! Prawn and veggie tempura was almost £12! That’s like… the price of a steak! I was gonna go all out and get the chicken udon in hot pot but I thought I’d play it safe with the basic and I’ll come back again some day if it’s worth my money. They have 3 types of udon, which are basically hot noodles in hot soup, cold noodles in hot soup, or cold noodles – zaru udon style. They also had specials on the wall with some appies and a curry udon which sounded interesting. I just ended up ordering the basic beef udon, and my friend got the kinoko which was mushroom and walnut miso.
Cook time for udon seemed to take a little longer than ramen. The guy next to us came in after and got his udon first, but he ordered the curry special, and it looked like it was just plain noodles with a scoop of curry sauce on top (I guess it’s not that weird considering that’s what curry on rice is). The udon looked very traditional, totally reminded me of the ones I had in Japan. They also bring you a bit of walnut miso on the side, which I never had before. it was very sweet, and I assumed that it goes into the soup. The soup base was amazing, so flavour but not so oily even with the beef, maybe I’ve just been missing out on tasty asian food… But it’s definitely not the kind of udon I had before. The noodles are very good, chewy, most likely home made.
It’s definitely a place to visit, if you’re craving for a simple delicious bowl of noodle and soup. I have to go back and try the cold noodle style, just remember to go early or give extra time for line up, as you would when you go to a ramen shop in Vancouver downtown. Sadly based on London price it’s actually not that expensive.
49 Frith Street
(020) 7434 4463