The original branch of Koya closed in the summer of 2015, leaving Koya Bar as the sole survivor of the twin operation. Evoking the more traditional feel of a Japanese udon-ya, the restaurant wouldn’t be out of place in Tokyo. A blond wood counter dominates the long narrow space – chefs on one side, diners on the other. With just 25 stools, Koya Bar may not be big, but it still feels spacious and airy.
Koya classics such as udon with mushrooms and walnut miso (kinoko) are available here, but unlike the original, breakfast is also served. Though you can get a standard Japanese morning meal – grilled fish, miso soup, rice and pickles, innovative bowls of udon and rice porridge are the major draw.
Placed before us by head chef Shuko Oda, a bowl of ‘English breakfast’ udon in earthy broth was topped with fried egg, bacon and shiitake mushrooms – not the easiest thing to eat with a pair of chopsticks. The rice porridge (okayu) and accompanying soft boiled egg, spring onion and sweet, salty marinated shiitake makes for a soothing bowl of East Asian comfort food.
With friendly staff and unusual dishes, Koya Bar offers a taste of Tokyo in London.