Joining the Koya family, which already counts Koya City and Koya Soho among its members, is little sister restaurant Koya Ko Hackney. But don’t be tricked by the size of the venue, or its ‘little sister’ status. Koya Ko is one of the most satisfying places to devour noodles in London.
Billed as a more casual and fast-paced alternative to the other Koya locations, Koya Ko has a whole new menu. They also tackle ordering and dining just a little differently with a fast food-esque system that belies the incredible food.
The food at Koya Ko
When you arrive, check out the menu (outside or inside), and head straight to the counter to order. Between 10 and 11.45 they serve up delightful breakfast options. But if you’re there after 12, make sure to order the Ko Set, which adds two sides to your udon or donburi bowl. And one of those sides has to be the chicken or tofu karaage, which lock in tons of flavour thanks to a pre-dredge marinade. You’ll be tempted to immediately order another serving. Do it. Live a little. It’s worth it.
Regardless of whether you get an udon bowl or a donburi, it’s hard to go wrong at Koya Ko. The dashi that serves as the base for a lot of the meals is fragrant and ever so slightly funky. The freshly made udon noodles are equal parts chewy and slurpable. And everything else on the menu, from the toppings to the sides, to the curry and the rotating specials, is bang-on delicious.
Many of the udon dishes also come cold – perfect for a refreshing slurp when the weather warms up. And if you’ve never tried cold noodle dishes on a stiflingly hot day, you’re truly missing out.
The Hot Dog Special
Yup. That’s right. The udon noodle bar is serving up a hot dog and mustard special udon as part of their monthly rotating guest chef specials. The Koya Ko team partnered up with London wine legends, Top Cuvée, for a partnership that made use of the wine bar’s hot dogs. In their own words:
“We know what you’re thinking… hot dog and udon? But trust us, it works. Available at Koya Ko from [March 15], Top Cuvée’s udon features a whole juicy frankfurter from Cave Cuvée, red and white sauerkraut and dashi braised pork belly, topped off with a big dollop of yellow mustard. Best served with Top Cuvée’s Cherry Vermouth Saketini”
Sure, it sounds crazy – but I trust them. They have yet to steer me wrong in my countless visits so far – and I’ve been there a lot! Hurry down to try it before they pivot to their next special on April 15.
On your way out do not miss out on the Ko Kinako ice cream sandwiches from Happy Endings. Koya Ko collaborated with the ice cream makers on the product, which finds refreshing kinako milk ice cram (grounded roasted soya bean) rippled with kuromistu (black cane sugar syrup) in between two brown sugar shortbread biscuits. It’s lightly sweet and surprisingly subtle, the perfect ending to a meal at Koya Ko.
Koya Ko is walk-in only, but service and turn-around are quick, and there are plenty of places nearby to grab a perch with some takeaway udon. It’s a must-try restaurant.