I had heard some rumblings about this new Japanese noodle shop in Soho and one lunchtime, decided to check it out. They had only been open for 2 weeks and was not very busy when we got there. (Since my visit, it has been featured in the Metro and lots of other food blogs and there now queues to get in. )
Since there was a choice, we chose to sit at the counter overlooking the kitchen. This gave us a great view of the goings on in the compact kitchen but the chefs were rather shy and were not overly friendly. They did let me film them at work a bit, see below.
They took over from the old Alaister Little premises and didn’t do much to the decor. They found the old tiled floor when they were renovating and kept it. By the looks of it, the place had spent the money importing some of the kitchen gear from Japan and not much on the rest of the place.
This is in the Japanese tradition of specialising in one thing and this is an udon ya, or an udon only shop. Here is a little video of the kitchen in action:
On the menu, there were choices for hot or cold noodles. The lovely waitress are probably not used to nosey customers and when asked what was the sauce wit the cold noodles, she said ” Japanese sauce”. Really, you don’t say?
Cold Udon with pork and miso
Love the texture of the udon here, unlike the ready made variety found elsewhere, this was nice and chewy.
This combinations was just superb, light flavours with just the right combination of miso and dipping sauce.
Hot udon with smoked mackerel – Saba Udon
The smoked fish and the wheat for the udon is imported and the dashi stock is made in house. You can choose to add the onsen tamago or natto as an extra topping to any of the noodle dishes.
The much discussed onsen tamago (£2)
This is just a fancy name for a poached egg, which takes its name from the story that Japanese women took baskets of eggs to the onsen ( hot springs) and let the eggs poach while they soak. The result is a much creamier egg and when accompanied by a little spring onion and
Here is something else we tried, Kakuni (£5.50) , the braised pork belly which came with a dollop of searingly hot Japanese mustard. Melt in the mouth pork, similar to the chinese poached belly pork but served cold. Nothing special though.
This was a great place for lunch and the Japanese in London who need a taste of home won’t be too disappointed. I would come again when I need an udon fix. The bill was about £30 for two with no drinks, which is a bit pricey for noodles in this area of London. Go early to avoid the queues as they don’t take reservations.
49, Frith Street