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“beautifully prepared, honest food” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Koya

Koya
49 frith street | Soho, London W1D 4SQ, England
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Ranked #4,221 of 17,938 Restaurants in London
Cuisines: Japanese
Dining options: Breakfast/Brunch, Reservations, Late Night
Restaurant details
Dining options: Breakfast/Brunch, Reservations, Late Night
London, United Kingdom
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“beautifully prepared, honest food”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 30, 2013

The chef's take on simple Japanese dishes and sides is superb, and certainly worth the wait. The menu is short and there are only few veg options, but the quality and freshness of the ingredients used reflects attention to detail and love for quality.

  • Visited April 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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255 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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    45
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Greek first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
London, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Good but pricey udon”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 16, 2013

Accompanied a friend here on a Tuesday evening. Not sure if they did bookings, but they probably do not since my friend warned me of long queues. Arrived at 7:30pm and it wasn't hard to find - more or less the only restaurant on Frith Street which would have a long line snaking out of it. At least 7 couples/groups in front of us, but a large group inside cleared out and we were thankfully seated by 5 to 10 minutes past 8:00pm. Considering that there is a menu posted outside and their menu is also on their website, be considerate customers and have a look so you'd have some idea what you would like to order.

Service was fast and nippy - the waitress was ready to take our order in 4 minutes after we sat down. We initially asked for an item which was on the specials board, but was told that it was sold out along with another item on the specials board. Slightly disappointed but not put off, we then opted for the Kakuni, Kinoko Hiya-Atsu, and Kamo Nabe Udon. We did not order any drinks, so the waitress immediately brought us a chilled bottle of tap water, which was a kind afterthought as we usually would have to ask for it. The Kakuni came first within 5 minutes, and while it was tender and less stringy and not as dry as others I've eaten outside before, I felt it was a little pricey at 6.90GBP especially when they served only 3 cubes around 1.5 inches in width depth and height, and the 4th piece was a small thin chunk of meat attached to the bone. It was sweet and savory, and the yellow mustard provided at the side accompanied it well. The Kinoko Hiya-Atsu and Kamo Nabe Udon came while we were polishing off the Kakuni. The Kamo Nabe Udon was indeed served in a stone hot pot, and I accidentally brushed against it with my hand and burnt myself. So watch out, and use the wooden base to maneuver it. The good thing about this is that even after a good 20 minutes, the udon and soup was still rather hot. Despite being a 'duck and vegetable hot pot', the vegetables were very lacking. If anything, I'd call the amount of vegetables to only be garnishings. There were a few slivers of spring onions, a meagre handful of bean sprouts and 1 slice of carrot. Granted, there were 5 small-medium slices of duck, which were very succulent and tasty, but I felt that it did not really justify its price at 14.30GBP. The Kinoko Hiya-Atsu is slightly different - cold udon with hot soup. I felt the udon was a little too dry and sticky, I suspect they were taken straight out of the fridge, instead of being cooked on the spot and dunked in ice to be chilled as ought to be done. The soup was tasty, and had its fair share of mushrooms, although the 3 or 4 pieces of cabbage in the soup tasted rather earthy. The walnut-miso was the supposed hi-light of the dish, and was served separately in its own small dish. I expected it to actually taste more like miso embedded with walnuts, but instead I got a sweetish, over sugary brown paste which tasted more like a ganache studded with walnuts. They were generous with the walnut bits, but I don't think they should mislead customers and call it 'miso' when there is obviously not a trace of fermented soy bean paste in there. At 11.60GBP it was pricey, but an interesting taste of something different. By 9:00pm, we were ready to leave and I noted that some tables had been freed up already. The total bill came up to 36.90GBP (including service charge) for 2 people without any drinks - just 2 bowls of udon and 1 small 'starter' dish.

Overall, if you hear friends recommending this place and hounding you to go, go once, just for the sake of trying so that you can develop your own honest opinion about it. Queue it out, or eat late so you won't have to queue so long, sit down and try. It is pricey, the dishes are okay but not particularly outstanding enough to be worth all that commotion. If anything, they taste like the udon I prepare at home. On top of that, if you're afraid of MSG, stay away. I can guarantee with my dry tongue and thirsty mouth that MSG was indeed added. With so many Japanese and Asian restaurants in the Soho/Leicester Square region, you can cure that Udon/Ramen/Asian food craving for much less money, more quantity and perhaps quality.

  • Visited April 2013
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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London
Senior Contributor
49 reviews 49 reviews
27 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
“Good but pricey”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 16, 2013

Simple but good. Pricey tho. Some better alternative in the area eg Shoryu Ramen in Regent Street). After lunch, try the coffee in the Milk Bar not far from Koya.

  • Visited April 2013
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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Melbourne
Top Contributor
54 reviews 54 reviews
54 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“not worth the wait nor money”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 14, 2013

Long queues (which I don't complain about if the wait is justified) for expensive small udon serves, expensive additions (£2 for an egg??). Especially poor was the excuse for buta/pork, which was a smidgen of pork floss coated in miso and not any actual pork slices as expected (see photo).

If you end up here maybe the tempura udon or hot pot will be better value. Otherwise go to Tonkotsu or Bone Daddies instead for satisfying ramen, and avoid the udon here.

  • Visited February 2013
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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Istanbul, Turkey
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Best Ramen in London”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 13, 2013

Homemade udon and perfect broth combinations. The dialy menu sometimes have that perfectly fried buckwheat chicken!
The menu and the food is so simple yet subtle, delicious. Cosy atmosphere, waiting in line is not a problem, always return!

  • Visited November 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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