Koya City, London

This place has recently shot up the ranks and has become my favourite place to eat in London. It’s the second branch to open after the original in Soho. I loved it so much that when my boyfriend visited me, I took him and my brother to this place. We had such a packed schedule, I was still adamant on squeezing this udon bar in.

They light up amongst the other glassy restaurants in Bloomberg Arcade because of their typical light wooden interior.  When you walk in, you’ll almost always be immediately greeted by somebody. If they have space, I would recommend always sitting by the bar for that authentic Japanese udon bar experience where you get to watch the chefs prep your meal and it’s mesmerising.

Going with my boyfriend and younger brother basically means I get to choose three mains. My boyfriend “ordered” the Kamonabe Atsu-Atsu (duck and vegetable hot pot- hot udon with hot broth), my younger brother “ordered” the Tempura Atsu-Atsu (prawn tempura- hot udon with hot broth)  and I ordered the Buta Hiya-Atsu (pork and miso cold udon with hot broth) with a side of Tanuki (tempura batter). Having already tried the pork and miso at Soho branch, I was tipped off by a friend that the dishes differ branch to branch because of different chefs. (I will write about the duck hot pot and Soho’s pork and miso in separate blog posts because I actually have had them both very recently.)

Fun fact: I was sitting at the bar when I saw one of the chefs adorn a tattoo of the iconic Koya logo on his arm! I can only assume good things when an employee goes that much of an extra mile!

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Pork and miso hot broth
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Cold Udon for the Pork and Miso Hot Broth with a side of Tempura Batter

The broth comes with the all too familiar miso floaty look. Ingredient wise, it sounds (and even looks) simple. Flavour wise, it’s P A C K I N G. This broth epitomises a match made in heaven between the pork and miso. It’s deliciously the right amount of salty and savoury, with thin and tender slices of pork floating around and flecks of spring onions providing colour and imparted a sharp flavour to each mouthful. At this point I like pouring some of the tanuki into the broth, but I also like sprinkling it on each spoonful to ensure an extra crunchy texture. The udon… where do I begin? Hot udon with hot broth is nice but you must try cold udon with hot broth. I’ll repeat again for the people at the back who didn’t hear. YOU MUST TRY COLD UDON WITH HOT BROTH. Because it’s cold, the udon retains its distinctive chewy texture and doesn’t continue to cook in the hot broth as it’s served separately. The tiny specks of nori sprinkled on top of the udon means as you slurp your udon noodles, you’ll get subtle hints of a fishy/savoury flavours throughout your meal. Be warned! If you don’t eat quick enough, eventually your udon will bring down the temperature of the broth, however this dish is so delicious that it’s fine, and besides – every last drop is I N H A L E D before the temperature gets that lukewarm anyways.

I tried my brother’s tempura udon, I’d say his broth was very light but still flavourful. The prawn was massive and cooked just right so that it was still juicy. I did note that the tempura batter seemed to almost dissolve away quite quickly however since it’s the only prawn, it’s usually eaten quite quickly anyways. Nonetheless,  I enjoyed it… and so did my brother. It’s a good option to go for if you don’t eat meat!

The location (Bloomberg Arcade) means you will almost certainly be surrounded by suited city workers dining late after getting off work, but I like the idea of this. It almost mirrors what happens in Japan with their late night city worker diners too. Rest assured, this place is casual, you certainly are not expected to be suited and booted to eat here.

To wrap this post up, honestly, this place is as good as it gets for an udon bar outside of Japan and note to Koya, TAKE MY MONEY because it’s all I ever seem to want to eat nowadays.

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