The eagerly-awaited second site from Koya — the peerless udon noodle and Japanese small plates restaurant in Soho — opens to the public on Monday next week. It sits in the Bloomberg Arcade, the sleek new walkway between the American company’s new European headquarters, in a space that features a raft of other, quality new restaurants.
It is significantly bigger than the existing Koya Bar on Frith Street in Soho, with a long bar counter as well as a number of tables for bigger parties. Ercol enthusiasts will be delighted to notice the re-instalment of the chairs from the original Koya restaurant, which opened (and has since closed) with chef Junya Yamasaki. The head chef Shuko Oda, who was originally Yamasaki’s deputy, told Eater London that “it’s nicer to have more space — the walk-in fridge [especially] feels like a luxury.”
When the Bloomberg Arcade news originally broke, Koya was perhaps the most surprising inclusion among the line-up, given its Soho identity and one-off feel. But, on closer inspection, the new site makes a lot of sense. Oda told Eater London that if the restaurant harnesses the support of the London equivalent of the so-called “Japanese salarymen [city workers who famously eat out and drink late] — then we’ll be good.” The City is, also, where Koya co-founder John Devitt worked before entering the restaurant industry, and a part of town to which he’s long wanted to return. Eater London was invited in to have a first look at the new site and a number of new menu items:
Devitt says the restaurant “will be more grown-up” and it’s clear that they will be hitting an entirely new market, not least at breakfast as the site will be open during the week from 7am. Indeed, a new breakfast menu is among a host of new features about the second site. The ‘rice and otomo’ (rice and companions) — a plate that includes three different pickles and a bowl of miso soup — is the standout new addition. And yet, the most notable new menu item is likely to be the tonkatsu: panko-coated, fried, aged pork loin, which — available only at dinner — will be served with shredded cabbage, salt, and a sauce made from fruit miso.
The deep-fried prawn heads, served with sesame salt — and a semi-regular feature on Koya Soho’s specials blackboard — will have a permanent place on the City site menu. So too will a chilled ‘Ohitashi’ salad of tofu, leek and seasonal greens.
The udon noodle dishes, both cold and hot, with or without broth, for which Koya is best known, will of course make up the majority of both the lunchtime and dinner menus. A new cod’s roe and butter option will be exclusive to the City.
Say hello to the most interesting new restaurant to open in the City of London this year.