Koya is a small Japanese udon noodle bar on Frith Street, Soho. My sister, Grace, and I have a Yo Sushi tradition when she visits for a shopping trip but this time we decided to try something a little different. The restaurant is intimate and feels laid-back and casual - perfect for a friendly chat over some udons with an atmosphere more like a cafe than a restaurant. The food is served on a long communal table that wraps around a bar, behind which the food is prepared before your eyes. It's a simple space with bleached wood and white walls, and was perfect respite from the weather outside, which was blisteringly hot in the unbearable way London is during heatwaves.
Perhaps we were lucky, as the place was quiet and there were lots of seats free. We sat down immediately and got to ordering. I have heard reports that during rush hours it can be manic. We went on lunch time on a Tuesday.
Grace ordered the duck astu-atsu, which is udon noodles in a hot dashi broth, and I had the ten don donburi, which comes with a miso soup. On the side we had the kaiso (or mixed seaweed) salad to share.
Firsty, my ten don donburi was great. I usually steer away from tried and tested dishes in order of something new, but I spied one being prepared when I walked in and couldn't resist. The deep fried king prawn was light and crispy. I find the curry sauce as places like Wagamamas over-powering and stodgy and only want a few mouthfuls. This sauce, however, was much more delicate meaning I enjoyed all of the dish, polishing off my bowl. The miso soup that accompanied it was also the nicest I've had so far, with big chucks of tofu. The seaweed salad was cold, slimy, salty and had a strong vinegar taste. That's okay if like me you are a seaweed lover. Grace was less impressed.
The duck astu-astu had a generous amount of lovely pan-seared, pink duck. The homemade udon noodles were perfectly thick and squidy, just like they should be.
The service was prompt, attentive and friendly and main courses vary from £6.90 to £14.90 Lunch served noon-3pm daily. Dinner served 5.30-10.30pm Mon-Sat; 5.30-10pm Sun. I would return to Koya happily, if I happened to have a hankering for noodles and find myself in the area. Next time I've resolved myself to tr the hiya-atsu, cold noodles with a hot dipping broth.
Many style habitués, myself included, feel a sense of dread when summer time rolls around. I am a fan of winter fashion. Boots, hats, coats, scarves, mittens, jumpers, cardigans, coats; the more layers the better as far as I'm concerned. I'll spend October to February looking like a washing basket come to life. I also like a basic palette of neutrals, mainly black, white and navy, but as soon as it's is sunny I feel somehow obliged to push the black to the back of my wardrobe. Then I embark on a crazed shopping quest which sees me purchasing florals, caftans, bizarre floppy hats, and anything (and I mean ANYTHING) with a remotely "boho" theme.
Come September I realise I've wasted £££s on clothes I will never want to wear again and spent the past few months looking like a Woodstock reject. A much more sustainable attitude to summer dressing is required. This time around I will be avoiding the shops and attempting to wear my winter basics throughout the hotter months, but style them differently in the name of weather appropriateness.
Here is some inspiration for how you can work your black pieces between May and August.
Elin Kling is a Swedish fashion blogger and fashion journalist. Boy, does this lady know how to dress. Call me boring, but I love the neutrals and classic silhouette. I'm not ready to leave Winter fashion behind and Kling's knack with separates and a great jacket oozes sophistication with a cool girl vibe. I'm a sucker for Swedish street style, which is fast over taking New York as the capital of casual cool, in my view. I prefer a sustainable and timeless approach to my own style and Swedish style epitomises the less-is-more ethos, with a sharp eye for silhouette and quality.
I'm taking notes.
I made this delicious, nifty little breakfast for a guest that came for a spontaneous visit over the weekend. After a late night of merriment, and with the scorching sun turning the whole house into a sauna, we didn't quite fancy the usual morning after fry up (though OF COURSE we still wanted bacon).
This recipe is the best of both worlds. You get your bacon fix without the heavy carbohydrate intake of a usual morning after meal, which let's face it doesn't actually leave you feeling any better and tends to serve only to send you into a fat-induced semi-vegetative state. We ate on the patio with some crisp, cool watermelon.
Ingredients (serves two):
16 stalks of asparagus
8 rashers of smoked bacon (smoked bacon really does make all the difference)
1) Coat your asparagus lightly in oil, salt and pepper. Divide the stalks into pairs.
2) Take one rasher of bacon per pair of asparagus and wrap in a diagonal fashion starting for the base up to the tip. The aim is to ensure the bacon is overlapping but not so much that parts will go partially uncooked. Once you have your bundles add a little more salt and pepper and add another light covering of oil.
3) Heat up a griddle pan to a medium heat and add the bundles.
4) Fry the bundles and turn about every five minutes until the bacon is cook to your liking. Then, serve.
In the unanticipated (by me anyway) sunshine this weekend, I took a first-time visit to Columbia Road Flower Market, which is fairly close to Shoreditch Station. Having never been before I had no idea what to expect, but I wasn't disappointed. Columbia Road, which is fairly narrow (as all London streets are), is lined on both sides with flower stalls selling many varieties of beautiful flowers. I’m not a keen gardener but didn’t fail to appreciate the huge, multi-hued blooms of hydrangea, the beautiful peonies bigger than a fist and the sunflowers the size of your face.
With the distinct fragrance of lilies in the air, I resolved not to leave empty handed and shunted my way into the crowd at a busy stall and bought a bunch of yellow roses for £5.00 and a bunch of blue corn flowers for £.300. The sunshine must have been having an uplifting effect on everyone as the stall owner gave me an extra bunch of corn flowers for free.
For those who don’t have an endless attention span for flowers, around the corner is an alleyway with a few vintage stalls selling bric-a-brac, and Columbia Road itself is lined with lovely shops, selling sweets, furnishing, novelties and clothes, as well as a few small art galleries. I was tempted to splash a lot of cash is Rob Ryan. There are a number of pubs in the area, and sunglasses wearing, pint drinking visitors sat on the curb and watched a drummer, a violinist, and an accordion player and singer performing French folk songs on a sunny corner. As far as Sunday's go, it was a pretty perfect one.
Columbia Road Market is only open on Sundays.
Columbia Road Market is only open on Sundays.
My first flower arrangement.
Brad Mcdonald, half of this donut making duo – sharing the enterprise with his wife Molly – has previous culinary pedigree, becoming familiar with this style of donut when living in the stunningly beautiful, quaint French province of Colmar. He now works at the Lockhart, a restaurant on Seymour Place, specialising in upmarket US cuisine, where you can also sample 1235 Donuts.
I’d heard so much about 1235 Doughnuts that I knew it was high time I went to see this pastry phenomenon for myself. Sold from the owners’ doorstep - a lemon-yellow front door along Columbia Road - on Sundays, these treats provide a sugary respite from the bustling crowd frequenting the market at this popular #culturesoaking destination.
Unfortunately the legendary elderflower flavour was sold out at (at 12 o’clock! Those babies go fast), but chocolate, lemon curd, strawberry and caramel were still available. I choose the latter two. The “squircular” Beignet-style dough is soft and light, and the sugared outside deliciously and ever so slightly crisp. The strawberry variety uses a real jam filling which is eye-rolling-ly delicious and the caramel filling was creamy and generously pumped into the heart of the donut.