Why go here:
For authentic Japanese udon noodles
What it looks like:
Its styled like a Japanese cafe with the long wooden sharing tables, white walls with wall hangings comprising mainly of the regular menu and daily specials written on scrolls and an open kitchen. Last time I went, I observed that a lot of my fellow diners were Japanese which I took as a sign for the food being authentic. The cafe only has 25 seats though and doesn’t take reservations, so expect to queue for a while.
Having waited in the queue for more than half an hour, we were starving so went straight for the udon. There are cold or hot udon noodles which are served in hot or cold broths. I ordered the Kinoka Atsu-Atsu (hot udon in hot broth) which came in a mushroom and walnut miso flavoured broth. The udon was served with in a clear broth loaded with fresh, crispy mushrooms. The walnut miso was provided as a thick paste in a little bowl on the side, so one can add it in as per their taste. The paste was warm, earthy and sweet and the ground walnut had a pleasant, distinctive taste. I added in all the paste to my broth and was hoping there was more since I couldn’t taste the walnut as strongly anymore. Alas, there was no more and so, I had to make do with some chilli soy sauce instead. Here’s a tip- don’t eat the paste on its own before adding it to your noodles, because then you’ll always find the flavour to be too mild in this diluted form.
The dish was filling and yummy nonethless and felt not too rich. It was almost like a healthier version of ramen for me. The noodles were also thicker and prepared more al-dente. I also ordered some Japanese tea which was nicer than the standard Green tea served in Chinese eateries and came in a cute little kettle.
My friend opted for the Kitsune udon dish that was filled with fresh, sweet tofu and zesty spring onion.
Koya also serves an English Breakfast Udon with eggs, bacon and mushrooms- one for the morning people.
Koya focuses on only one thing and excels in it. Prices are cheap for Soho and the portion sizes are big. You do feel like you’ve been transported to Tokyo when dining here. Noodle lovers- get yourselves to Koya.