If there’s one food that’s currently trending then it’s got to be udon, the Japanese noodle that’s becoming hugely popular this new year thanks to its heath benefits; it’s lower in calories than ramen, soba and pasta. And Den, the new restaurant in King’s Cross specialising in udon, is leading the new food wave thanks to the skills of head chef Emi Machida, previously of Koya and Bone Daddies.
The plain white-washed walls and simplistic benches make for a minimalistic interior, but like the food it’s fresh and like the sake it’s pure. Start with the crispy udon pretzel, fried udon noodles that were made too short (proof of how much of a perfectionist Machida is); a nice bit of food recycling.
Before going in for the udon main, try the tsumami (small plates). Take note, they’re not as small as you’ll be led to think, but so much tastier than you’ll expect. The Chicken Kara-Age is sublime, as is the Red Wine Stewed Pork Belly – real melt-in-the mouth delicious. The Sake Steamed Clams are so moreish and it’s not hard to understand why the Prawn & Vegetable Tempura is such a popular choice.
Onto the main dishes. Served in deep bowls, the noodles come in either white or black broths – the black containing a generous helping of soy sauce. These are hearty dishes and you’re guaranteed to leave with a full belly. On our visit we had the Spicy Cod Roe with Fresh Egg and Spring Onion in a Thick Gravy. Despite being full after the tsumamis the dish was too good to leave unfinished, it is that delicious. Our guest opted for the Pork Belly and Cabbage, equally as wonderful with the pork belly once again executed perfectly.
Affordable, delicious, filling and healthy, the udon is here to stay and Den is leading the way.