KOYA

An article in the September issue of GQ written by Jennifer Bradley lamented the disappearance of the restaurant reservation in London. She states that new restaurants are “no-res” to get as many bums on seats as possible. It seems to me that in some cases this development has distorted the attitude of restaurateurs. When people are queuing for over an hour to eat your udon, many in the industry have forgotten that restaurants are part of the service industry. Instead the attitude has moved to doing a favour for the grateful grazing multitudes

This practice is especially galling when the queue has to constantly shift to allow sweaty bank managers to access the staircase next to the restaurant, where an A4 piece of paper with the word “models” crudely scrawled on it advertises a knocking shop. (Yalla Yalla, Green’s Court)

 I had previously visited Koya 5 or 6 years ago and was unimpressed. Seeing the team at Pitt Cue rave about the place in an episode of Vice’s “Chef’s Night Out”, I thought I should try again in case my undeveloped palate was to blame for my initial disappointmen

After queuing for around 30 minutes, and then waiting another 40 minutes for the food to arrive from across the counter, I was inconsolable.

I ordered a promising but poorly executed special of grilled grouse with pickled blackberry. The undercooked, and cold meat stank of dead animal, and the associated slumgullion that comes with gutting a small creature. The breast was served alongside a leg, with its gnarled and scaly foot still attached, with swamp juice still dried on to the grey toenails. It couldn't have been less appetizing unless the grouse had been served in the front grill of a land rover.                                                               

My mushroom udon with miso walnut butter was desperately bland..  If you’ve ever needed 1 tbsp of miso for a salad dressing, and like me have bought a 2 kilo bag of the stuff, then have it sit in the door of your fridge for the REST OF YOUR FUCKING LIFE, you will know that miso is a bold flavour. Alas in my miso walnut butter, the miso was undetectable.

The other 3 in my party ordered an array of tempura, udon, and katsu curry. Tempura can be good, like Koya’s, or so-so, but it is never life-changing. Fresh Squid tempura with lovage salt was at least interesting, and the Katsu curry, the thinking man’s Nando’s, was very good. Sadly Koya’s raison d’etre, its udon is nothing to write home about.