I admit to having an obsession with udon noodles. They are surely one of the most fun things you can eat – big slippery worms of bouncy noodle more often than not surrounded by a deep broth and wonderful fresh flavours. My go-to is Koya on Frith Street. That said, until recently, it was the only place that I knew did excellent udon.
Den has opened near King’s Cross bringing udon to the north of London, well north-central London. They have taken over an old pub and converted it into a bright, modern space complete with those crazy Japanese toilets that you approach with a combination of fear and intrigue.
They serve a mix of udon, donburi and tsumami, small plates including sizzling beef, seaweed salad and sake steamed clams. When it comes to udon they are served with either a white (Osaka) broth or a darker and richer black (Tokyo) broth. Toppings range from tofu and seaweed to clams and muzuna, spicy cod roe with egg and spring onion to prawn tempura.
The broth is deep and warming, noodles springy and light and toppings well cooked and nicely balanced. With udon prices ranging from £6.50 to £11.50 you can eat heartily – and healthily – for not very much money at all.
This is a more accessible udon spot in many ways – partly because it is so far less well known and you can book for groups of more than four. The udon isn’t quite as wonderful as at Koya, which I think still has a more authentic feel paired with a very exciting specials list, its fabulous back bench and its dedicated following of chefs and udon experts, however, it is still great and for those wanting a slightly trendier udon experience it is perfect.
With its proximity to the station, SOAS and neighbouring hotels and hostels it is sure to do well and get busier and busier as the weeks pass. Go now to avoid the crush.
Den, 2 Acton Street, WC1X