Koya, Soho – any noodle as long as it’s udon

Koya is a Soho noodle bar, up Frith St, just past the jazz club.
(Someone just filled their bingo card).

Sadly, it’s also set to close in May this year. Sadface. Much sadface. Thankfully its sister bar (two doors down) will remain.

I say “noodle bar” – it serves mostly udon, with a range of soups, sauces, and dressings. Some are hot, some are cold, the specials are nifty, and it’s a good time. Koya, crab and cockles We ducked in for lunch, making it barely in time for their 2:45 last orders, and there was still a (very short) queue. That’s encouraging. As was the service – friendly and attentive, and from a gentleman who seemed like he’d be more at home in a Jeffrey Bernard era Soho all-night Italian dive. Splendid.

Décor is simple, specials skew seasonal, livening up the rather dull basic sides, and udon are probably my favourite noodles.
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Ember Yard, London – pork and fire

Ember Yard - Iberico presa
Shitty phone picture, because restaurant at night

Ember Yard is the most recent venue (2013) from the Salt Yard Group – a small chain of tapas-inspired charcuterie bars founded by a couple of bored ad execs who thought it might be a laugh to open a restaurant. Now, that doesn’t necessarily end well, and if I’d known in advance, I might not have gone. But I didn’t do my homework.

Instead, I looked at the menu, then spent the rest of the day idly dreaming about Ibérico ham.

That was the right decision, and it wasn’t actually full of assholes, but, well, they list the species of wood used on the charcoal grill, for fuck’s sake. It’s a damn good thing the food tastes amazing.

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Boopshi’s, London – schnitzel & spritz

Set on Windmill st, just off Tottenham Court rd, Boopshi’s was relatively quiet on a Saturday afternoon, and a thoroughly pleasant place for a late lunch. It’s bright and airy in a way that “modernized Austrian schnitzel joint” just does not suggest. It’s more style bar than beer cellar, and I absolutely do mean that in the good way. It’s tasty.

Boopshi's exterior

Eating in London, I seem to wind up at these mildly-ridiculous monoconcept noshing houses. As a grotesque self-parody, I’m ok with this, and Boopshi’s is another good one. So was Bubbledogs, who only serve champagne and hot dogs, and you can probably guess what Garlic and Shots do. They’re on the list for next time.

Boopshi’s serve schnitzel and spritz. Schnitzel and spritz are good, and we had plenty of both on our trip round central Europe last year. Oh, they have other things too, things I’d like to go back and try, but the stars are the schnitzel and spritz.

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Bubbledogs, London – champagne and hot dogs, because reasons

Bubbledogs is a restaurant that only serves champagne and hot dogs.

Yeah. Quite.

BLT hot dog at Bubbledogs
BLT hot dog at Bubbledogs

In the catalogue of self-conscious, posed restaurant concepts, that ranks pretty high. It is also too charmingly goofy an idea not to try at the first opportunity; so try it we did.

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