How about noodles for breakfast? No? Well why not? It may be unconventional (from a Western viewpoint) but a large percentage of asia view a bowl of soupy noodles as the ideal way to start the day. Exploring the various forms breakfast takes is goal of a series of events organised by my friend Katie B and one of our latest excursions was to Koya Bar.
The little sibling of the larger Koya restaurant next door, Koya Bar is styled after the traditional Ramen houses where customers sit along a bar facing the kitchen. The menu here is more limited than its neighbour but the dishes are freshly made in front of you which provides a great opportunity to watch the chefs at work and see each step as your dish is assembled. The atmosphere is Spartan and the layout is challenging to socialize in groups, so Koya Bar is best suited for a quick catch up with a friend or a bowl of noodles before heading out in the area. Prices are reasonable with main dishes around the £10 mark.
Koya bar is small and doesn’t cater to a casual group in for a drink. However, toss a stone and you’ll shatter half a dozen bars (or something in them) in the area. I’m a fan of Zenna for some creative and Asian-inspired cocktails or stay on the healthy side with Joe and the Juice around the corner.
What to eat?
For your main dishes, you really are looking at a choice between a rice-based dish and some udon noodles. The gf and I opted for the Kedgeree, a rice porridge with smoked fish and spices, and the Curry noodle soup.
The Kedgeree was fairly authentic and may be a good entry dish if you find yourself a bit dubious about the whole thing. The rice porridge is grainer than your standard cooked oats and the smoked haddock gives the dish a light savoury flavour. It’s a step above congee (although I’ve had some full-bodied congee in my time) and is filling and warming – great if you are feeling the chill or are a bit under the weather.
My curry udon noodles were fine but lacking the hefty punch I associate with curry. This is undoubtedly a result of my tendency to eat my mom’s spicy chicken curries for breakfast whenever I’m at my parents’ house so I imagine it’s more than sufficient for the average person – particularly for breakfast!
Rob H, Katie B’s partner in crime, raves about the English Breakfast udon which is your standard udon noodle soup topped with a fried egg, bacon, and shiitake mushrooms. While it did look pretty good (and who doesn’t love the smell of sizzling bacon), it’s a hybrid dish I still can’t quite get on board with. That being said, he’s a noodle aficionado so there must be something to it.
How about a drink?
Given it was 11am, we opted to stick with tea but I’m not sure Koya Bar actually has a license. You’re better off popping in for a bite (or a slurp as the case may be) and heading elsewhere to get your drink on. The tea comes in a nice little teapot (you can get refills on hot water) and remember it’s good manners to pour for others and not yourself!
Worth the dosh?
For a tenner, you do get a decent serving of food and service is fast and efficient if not the most friendly. I’m more than happy to drop in to line the stomach but if I had more time to kill (or was with more than one person) I think Bone Daddies has them beat.
Find Koya Bar here
50 Frith Street, London, W1D 4SQ