A quiet, authentic Japanese udon noodle bar down a quiet street in London’s Soho. Koya Bar definitely sets itself apart from the more main stream ramen noodle bars in London now. Not only because it serves udon noodles, but also because of it’s quirky menu and seasonal daily specials.
There’s no big flashy signs outside the restaurant, so you need to keep an eye out for it, otherwise it’s easy to miss. That is if you go at a time when there isn’t a long queue outside for a seat! It’s a small and intimate restaurant and diners sit at a bar facing the kitchen – so you can see dishes freshly prepared before you.
The menu is also very simple. But it was still a hard choice to decide between all the yummy dishes Koya Bar had to offer.
We decided to opt for a starter from the daily specials – grilled chicken wings with burnt soy and leeks (£8.20). If you’re a chicken wing fan like Kitty, then you’ll love this dish! The skin was nice and crispy, yet the chicken wing meat was juicy and tender. The burnt soy tasted similar to teriyaki – so a bit of a sticky soy sauce with a subtle sweetness. The leeks were finely shredded and raw. It seemed to be more like a garnish, but if you’d like a bit of heat with your wings, then having a few strands of the leeks wouldn’t hurt.
The first udon we tried was the Saba (smoked mackerel with green leaves – £10.70). Similar to having a smoked mackerel salad – but warm! The smokey, salty mackerel paired up with thick silky udon noodles was amazing. The mackerel had also been slightly grilled, so it was crispy on the outside but still moist inside. It was also refreshing to have a simple clear broth. Overall the dish had a “where east meets west” feel to it – definitely worth a try if you’re a fan of mackerel.
The next udon we had was the Buta Miso (pork and miso – £9.90). Don’t be deceived by how simple this looks. Once you’ve mixed the miso paste thoroughly with the udon, the whole bowl was brought to life! The miso (fermented soy beans) was really intense, so much that just a few spring onions were enough to garnish the dish. If you like the simple things in life, then give this Buta Miso a go when you visit Koya Bar.
This was a short trip to Koya Bar and we only had 3 dishes – but it was enough to give us a flavour of what they have to offer. Simple bowls of homemade udon noodles, served with a modern twist. We were really impressed and are giving Koya Bar 4 Yums! It’s a quiet restaurant though, with near whispering levels of chatter amongst diners. But with all the action of the kitchen happening before you, we doubt you’ll be involved in much chit chat with your companions. The staff are also extremely friendly and you’ll be well looked after.
There are some reviews that criticise the portion size – the udon noodles are pretty thick, so it’s actually a decently sized bowl of noodles and is enough to fill you up. We’d highly recommend you give Koya Bar a try (they even do a breakfast udon!) – go at the right time to avoid the queue though.