Rupert Hohwieler 09/03/23
Koya Ko | Just straight up top-class udon in Hackney
You can’t deny the pull of noods.
You know… the thick, silky ones kneaded on site each day that are then placed in a bowl of steaming hot broth.
Koya City and Koya Soho are London’s long-standing focal points for udon, and now the beloved Japanese noodle bars have a little sister in London Fields, by Broadway Market: Koya Ko. Aside from the location, the main point of difference here is that it’s perfectly geared for quicker lunches and in-and-out jobs. Order at a counter, and your slurping stations range from a cluster of seats inside to stools & tables streetside, or the option to dine tachi-gui style, aka… standing up. Not saying that there’s any added pressure to put your bowl away in 2 minutes, but it’s certainly a more casual affair than the other two.
The noodles are cooked for 15 minutes exactly, and are then plunged into cold water before being hand-drained. This supposedly gives them the required bounce. Once they are suitably bouncy, they’re ready to go into bowls, which include broth flavours on both ends of the spectrum; the traditional (topped with tempura, curry veg, pork & ginger with miso) and a few that deviate from the norm (i.e with slow-braised beef shin and chilli oil, or another that plays on the Indian prawn curry). The one that some might say put Koya on the map is here too, a cross between udon and an English breakfast – coined ‘The Japanese Breakfast’, with soft-boiled egg, bacon, and shiitake mushrooms.
No broth? No problem. You’ve got donburi, kara-age and other little snacks if you want to save the soup for another day. Naturally, everything can be embellished to your taste through extra toppings like natto and wakame. And, naturally take two, everything can be also washed down with sake, umeshu or a cold bottle of Asahi. Or tea, if you’re steering clear of booze. And don’t overlook dessert, as Koyo Ko have teamed up with ice cream sandwich specialists Happy Endings for a special collaboration: Kinako (roast soybean) and Kuromitsu (sugarcane syrup) ice cream in the middle of brown sugar shortbread. It’s a curious combination.
But they’ve pulled it off…
NOTE: Koya Ko is open daily and serves udon all the way through ’til 10.30pm (besides Sunday, when it’s 9.30pm). It’s walk-ins only, but you can whet your appetite by checking out the menu here.
Koya Ko | 10 Broadway Market Mews, London E8 4TS
Not your noodle? Perhaps have a look at the best ramen restaurants in London
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10 Broadway Market Mews, Hackney, E8 4TS
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