With the launch of their udon-in-the-post service Koya Mail and some excellent at-home meal kits, Koya managed to navigate lockdown pretty well, all things considered. But no matter how good a takeaway is, nothing beats eating in the restaurant (especially because you don’t have to plate up and then wash up). We’re big fans of Koya City and now that the Soho site has also fully reopened, we swung by to slurp those noods on what turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year so far.

The heat meant that we sat outside on a tiny table in the middle of Frith Street – lots of the Soho roads remain pedestrianised and packed with al fresco diners – rather than at the counter inside the restaurant. Much less atmospheric but cooler at least.

As a specialist udon restaurant, noodles naturally take up the bulk of the menu but they’ve put a lot of effort into the small plates section as well. The chicken karaage was excellent and the prawn & veg tempura had some of the biggest prawns we’ve ever seen – tricky to hold with a pair of chopsticks but worth the battle. The Namayasai farm green salad with shiso, spring onion and a great sesame dressing was a welcome contrast to all that batter, though some of the leaves were more stalk than anything else.

Koya has been going since 2010 so they’ve had plenty of time to perfect their handmade udon and dashi. A hot udon with duck and hot broth was probably not the wisest choice on such a warm evening compared to the cold udon with hot broth and pork miso, but both were flavourful soups and noodles with just the right amount of bite.

By the time we had got onto our noodles the place was full, including all the tables outside, on a hot summer night, so it seems not even a few lockdowns can slow Koya down.

50 Frith St, London W1D 4SQ