KOYA Restaurant – Japanese Udon Noodles in London

By Mark Wiens 13 Comments
London restaurants
Udon at Koya in London

During our quick trip to London, after the Chowzter food awards, we met up with Anton from Our Awesome Planet and Hans from Eats and Treats, and went to a restaurant called KOYA Udon.

Koya is a simple, but neatly designed, Japanese restaurant located in the trendy London district of Soho.

They are known for their udon, the thick Japanese noodles, which can be eaten in soup or dry form with the soup or sauce on the side.

Koya
Entrance to Koya

I had read, Koya Udon can often have a long queue of hungry people waiting for their turn to get in, especially on the weekends (sounds like Tokyo to me!).

We went on a weekday, and arrived a few minutes before opening for lunch at 12 noon, and we were able to get the first table in the restaurant, though it did fill up quite quickly after we arrived.

Menu at Koya
Simple menu, good choices

The menu was quite simple, about 5 different types of udon, with beef, tofu, pork, duck, or saba fish, and then you could choose to order each type of udon hot in hot soup (atsu-atsu), cold with hot soup (hiya-atsu), or cold with cold sauce on the side (hiya-hiya).

There were also a few donburi, or rice bowls, on the menu as well. Full menu here.

Ying and I decided to order the saba udon in soup and also a gyudon donburi, a bowl of rice with thins strips of marinated beef piled on top.

The staff were all very nice and friendly, the service was good, and the atmosphere was warm and friendly.

Our noodles arrived on a tray, steaming hot, with a wonderful Japanese broth aroma.

Everything we ordered at Koya restaurant was nicely presented, just as nearly all food in Japan is (presentation is so important in every type of Japanese food).

Beef donburi
Beef donburi

Being a rice lover, most of the time over a noodle lover, I dug straight into the beef donburi.

The bowl contained rice at the bottom, covered by thin tangly strips of beef, marinated in sweet and salty soy flavored sauce. The beef was then topped in a handful of thinly sliced green onions, and a scoop of pink pickled ginger.

Koya restaurant, London
Tasty beef rice bowl at Koya

The beef was awesome quality, extremely tender, bursting with flavor, and compared to versions of the same dish I ate in Tokyo a few months prior, it was nearly equal in quality.

It was served with a light miso soup, that included a few strips of tofu and some strips of mild green onion, and I really enjoyed it.

The only thing I think that could have made it better, would have been a raw egg cracked in the middle, oozing into the hot rice, as it would commonly be served in Japan – that would have given it the extra edge of richness it needed.

Price – 11 GBP

Saba (mackerel) udon
Saba (mackerel) udon

Next up, I dug into the saba (mackerel) udon.

The noodles were very good, slightly chewy, but not mushy.

The saba fish had a lovely smokey flavor to it, and had lightly crispy edges, with soft fleshy meat.

Unlike udon I had in Japan, I enjoyed the addition of a handful of fresh rocket and other crisp vegetables which they tossed on top, to complete the bowl of udon.

It was really a well balanced bowl of udon, nice subtle flavors, and good quality ingredients. After a few scoops of Japanese chili powder, which added the final extra dimension of flavor, it was quite nice.

Price – 11 GBP

Koya Udon, London, England
Koya Udon, London, England

Conclusion

Overall, KOYA serves great home-made style udon noodles and good tasting donburi rice bowls, that include a good balance of flavors. The ingredients were fresh and of great quality.

I loved the donburi, but I wish it would have come along with a raw egg cracked into the middle.

However, I thought prices were quite steep and portion sizes weren’t very big. But then again, they are located in Soho London, where it seems nearly impossible to eat for less than 10 Pounds per person. Coming from SE Asia, I thought it was a bit high priced, but it was good nonetheless, and after all, this is London.

KOYA Udon – London, England

Official websitehttp://www.koya.co.uk/
Prices: 10 – 15 GBP per dish
Open hours: 12 noon – 3 pm and 7:30 pm – 10:30 pm on Monday – Sunday
Address: 49 Frith Street London W1D 4SG
How to get there: Koya is located in near Soho Square, and about a 10 minute walk from either Leicester Square or Tottenham Court Rd. station. I was at Piccadilly Circus, and walked from there in about 10 minutes as well. Check out the map for easiest directions.

13 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Kip

    5 years ago

    I loooove Koya! It is pricey though, even for where it is. Still, I’d rather pay more for something a little special than have a cheap meal where the only result is I’m filled up (but not satiated).

  • Nia

    5 years ago

    Hi Mark, recently found your youtube channel & blog – very inspirational as I plan my next trip to Japan.

    As a London foodie myself, this price range is typical. A few of the big Japanese ramen brands like Ippudo have just opened up here at £13+ a bowl (compared to the 700yen in Tokyo!)

    If you ever re-visit Koya, go into the back by the kitchen and look at the small blackboard specials menu. The chef changes this every couple of days to experiment with different ingredients, so you can get some truly fusion eats, like pigeon katsu – thankfully not the pigeons you see on the streets.

    Hope you can visit my neck of the woods again!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Nia, great to hear from you, thank you for watching my videos and reading my blog. Oh cool, thanks for the tip… pigeon katsu sounds fantastic. Hope you have a wonderful trip to Japan!

  • Jose

    6 years ago

    I like that restaurant, good quality for a good price!
    Good choice.

  • Michael Bonar

    6 years ago

    Best noodles in London. My Thai wife loves the English Breakfast Udon at the sister Koya Bar a little way down the street. Keep up the good work ^_^

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey Michael, thanks for reading, glad you like this place too. Next time will have to check out the Bar as well.

  • Elaine

    6 years ago

    Udon noodles are so amazing! I used to cook with them all the time when I lived and taught in Korea. I’ll have to keep this place in mind when I get to the UK!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey Elaine, oh very cool that you used to cook with them. Yah, definitely give this place a try when you’re in London.

  • lily

    6 years ago

    Might go to check this place as it looks good. Was this the same trip as when you were in borough market as my mum is a big fan of your videos on food from all countries and missed seeing you to get a quick photo if you’d come back again

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hey Lily, good to hear from you. Yah, this was the same trip, so it was already 1.5 months ago when I was in London. Thank you very much, next time if I come to London, will get in touch.

  • Ashley

    6 years ago

    The mackerel udon looks so yummy!