Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Koya is one of those places that I always wanted to try but other new openings sort of got in the way, and it got pushed down my must visit list. Truth be told Japanese food has not really exited me in the past and as this place specialises in Udon noodles it felt just a little restrictive menu wise.
Something aroused my inner self when on twitter someone was singing their praises about the specials board. So hey ho lets give it a whirl then.
Its been a couple of months since our visit and back then it was a nice sunny day so a hot steaming bowl of noodles was off our menu, even a cold bowl did not appeal.
A queue greeted us ( its another no bookings place) so we waited patiently like everyone else. One of the couples in front of us were beckoned through to dine but they left within minutes mumbling something. Clearly they were unimpressed.
Its pretty basic inside, bench seating, tiled floor, sparse decor with blackboards of specials providing interest on the walls. We opted to sit by the open kitchen as for me (but not my wife) this is the best seat in the house.
We chose our food mainly from the specials board, and as is the norm we tried a number of different dishes.
This is what we ate.
Whole steamed tomato, shiso, ginger ( £4.70)
Globe artichoke, mustard miso vinaigrette (£7.70)
"Tatsuta" Fried haunch of venison, mixed green coleslaw (£7.70)
Monkfish, aubergine, girolle "agebitashi" (£8.70)
Prawn tempura (£9.90)
Pork ribs (£9.40)
We drank wine by the glass and I had a couple of beers which for me worked well with the food.
Thinking back through the dishes we made some bad choices. The globe artichoke was bland and boring. Its been an age since I ate one and it will be more than an age before I eat one again.
We were expecting more from the Italian tomato. Even with the soy, dashi and ginger addition the tomato itself remained pretty tasteless, it really was a nothing dish. My fault in a way for ordering it but the tomato should at the very least have tasted of tomato.
We did enjoy the meaty monkfish paired with the delicious sloppy aubergine which had soaked up the dashi broth.
The pork had been braised in soy, mirin and sugar and it was full flavoured but very fatty. The gelatinous texture reduced the impact of the dish.
Tempura Prawn, mushroom, courgette and sweet potatoes was timed well, crunchy but not overcooked, decent dipping sauce too.
The deep fried venison was decent enough but a little on the tough side. In a way I now wished that we had tried a noodle dish perhaps instead of the artichoke and tomato. Still we all make mistakes.
Koya is somewhere that we would not dash back to. Its a pit stop venue for youngsters with simple tastes who want to fuel up before doing whatever they need to do for the rest of their day. Part of the attraction is of course that it is cheap and some people can perhaps get by on one or two dishes.
We would perhaps give it another try for the noodles but given its abudant food choice location and our forward planning I can't envisage that happening in the foreseeable future.
49 Frith Street