What: The long-awaited second site of the hit Japanese udon noodle restaurant has opened in the new (and still not completely finished) Bloomberg Arcade development in the City of London.
Who: John Devitt has made his return to the City (he was an independent trader in financial derivatives before entering the restaurant world) alongside head chef and co-founder Shuko Oda.
The vibe: Like its older sibling, the new Koya has a stripped back aesthetic that uses a forest-load of wood, black tiling and little else. In the shoulder periods there is a definite feeling of calm about the place, but come the peak periods and the change is almost instantaneous thanks to the predictability of the City’s workforce. An empty and rather silent restaurant at 11.55 turns into a loud and buzzy one with a queue outside the door 10 minutes later.
The food: Udon noodles are the star of the show, with Koya majoring on the thick wheat flour dish of Japanese cuisine. Alongside an extensive range of atsu-atsu (hot udon in hot broth) there’s hiya-atsu (cold udon with hot broth) and cold hiya-hiya dishes (zara udon - udon with cold sauce to dip, and hiyashi udon - udon with cold sauce to pour). Other specialities include rice-based donburri and a selection of small plates, from marinated mushrooms and mixed seaweed salad to homemade pickles and miso soup. Koya also has an interesting breakfast offer - served from 7am each weekday morning, 9am on Saturday and 10am on Sunday - featuring its classic English breakfast udon with egg, bacon and shitaki as well as new dishes for the City - kippers, egg and butter rice and miso soup; poached egg and bonito rice with miso soup; and hot udon, egg yolk and bacon.
And another thing: Timing is everything here, and not just in terms of missing the lunchtime crush. Some dishes are only available at certain times of the day, so check in advance before you head there based on someone's Instagram feed. The restaurant’s crispy fried prawn heads (pictured), for example, have already become a firm foodie favourite but are only available between 5pm and 10.30pm.
10-12 Bloomberg Arcade