Minimal, modern Japanese
49 Frith Street
Koya is a high brow Japanese restaurant with no sushi, instead specialising in udon noodles. Elegant and minimal, this is an eaterie to go to try authentic flavours and dishes which evoke Japan a lot more than the commercialised little rice rolls we are more used to at places like mega-chain Yo!Sushi. All the dishes filled me with a sense of foreboding as I compared them to my western diet of additive & hormone ridden foods – these ingredients are pared down, fresh and uber healthy. The udon noodles are even kneaded daily by foot! Diners can choose between atsu-atsu [hot udon in hot broth], hiya-atsu [cold udon with hot broth] or hiya-hiya [cold udon served with dipping sauce].
Plain udon in broth with a few spring onions floating around doesn’t sound that delicious, however this really was. The udon were soft to eat, and the broth was comforting and tasty enough to not get boring after a few spoonfuls. A steamy success.
Squid & Samphire Tempura £6.70
Special Udon Grated Mooli, Cucumber & Baby Anchovy Udon (cold) about £10
These noodles were really beautiful, with tiny little fish sprinkled alongside mint, flowers, grated cucumber and mooli. Despite their zingy appearance, they were pretty bland. The baby anchovies were verrrry subtle and the mooli, cucumber, flowers and mint did not taste of much. I don’t really like the cold udon, they don’t pick up a lot of flavour and are just a bit slimy.
Kaiso Salad £5.70
This mixed seaweed salad is fresh and light. I am not sure if I could plough through that much of it, but it has a lovely crunch to it.
Yasai Ten Mori £8.30
This veg tempura is not dissimilar to what most would be used to. Sweet potatoe, asparagus, broccoli among other things are wrapped in a crunchy tempura batter. Tasty snacks.
VERDICT – In only two years Koya has become very well regarded in Soho, and is a great place to try out something that is still really quite different and unique.
SURROUNDINGS – pared down and functional, the ambiance in Koya is that of a regular, moden Tokyo eaterie. The staff are understated but helpful.