Koya (Soho) Formerly: Koya Bar

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The lowdown on udon
An Irish-owned and thoroughly convincingly Japanese noodle bar, Koya ('small house/shack') imports ingredients from the East and recreates something very delicious and foreign-tasting just seconds north of Soho's Old Compton St. The emphasis here is on superior quality udon noodles (the thick ones), which are made daily and served either hot (atsu-atsu style) or cold (hiya-atsu), in highly recommended subtly smoky-flavoured soup if desired. Those accustomed to strong eastern/Tokyo flavours will notice here the more delicate western Japanese take on miso. Prices are very fair, but definitely at the higher end of budget. In 2010 John McDevitt (with chef Junya Yamasaki) opened the original Koya at 49 Frith St — a simple but elegantly designed restaurant space with consistent queues outside — and three years later, in September 2013, this adjacent narrow bar-style sibling followed, overseen by Shuko Oda, expanding on the menu she'd co-nurtured at the original Koya next door. In May 2015 Yamasaki returned to Japan, prompting the rather shocking closure of the original Koya despite outstanding trade. Koya Bar opens for breakfast, from 8.30, with Japanese rice porridge, kedgeree etc. No reservations, and queueing is common. Plus outlets in the City (10-12 Bloomberg Arcade) and in Victoria (Market Hall Victoria,191 Victoria St).