Koya has long been one of those restaurants that have appeared on my ‘Must-Eat-At’ list. Finally, one freezing cold Saturday night, I braved the 20 minute wait in the cold on Frith Street. And the wait? Totally worth it. I loved it. Already been back and can’t wait to go again.
Koya specialises in Udon, a thick chewy wheat-flour noodle, generally served with broth; a much cleaner flavour than ramen (which I also love!). On this visit we had the choice of either sitting in main room or at the bench in the kitchen. Easy decision to make! Watching the kitchen work is easily one of the more fascinating things for me.
The menu is divided into sections; mostly giving you the options of various combinations of temperature of broth and udon. There are also a few small plate options and a few donburi options for those who need their rice!
Duncan ordered the Tori Nikomi (chicken and vegetable hot pot). He had no interest in the egg that it was meant to come with the dish, so being the quick-thinking person I am, I asked for the egg to be served on the side. I really wanted the egg with my food so it worked out well! I am sneaky if nothing else.
I ordered the Saba (hot udon, with hot broth, with mackeral and green leaves). Oh my. This was wonderful. The broth was so clean and pure tasting and the oily mackerel and fresh greens on top went together brilliantly. The noodles were as good as you’d expect for a place that specialises in udon. Thick, slippery and chewy; they didn’t stand a chance at getting overcooked as I worked so quickly to shovel them into my mouth! Once I added the egg into the bowl, the broth took on the creaminess but still managed to retain the delicate flavour of the broth. It really is a dish that just works!
A few days later I went back and tried the Kamo Hiya-Atsu (cold udon, hot broth with slices of duck). To be honest, this dish wasn’t as good. The broth was a little milky this time – there wasn’t any of that perfect cleanliness that was present last time, and the duck arrived already in the broth, almost poaching in it. As a result, the duck was a little mushy. I think as an animal it’s quite fatty and works best when that fat is rendered out. The noodles were still brilliant.
Despite a not as great 2nd visit, I still love Koya. They specialise in udon and they are good at it. I want to go back and try their donburi (rice in a bowl, served with various toppings) and I definitely want that mackerel again. I’m craving it now, just remembering those flavours and textures!