49 Frith Street Soho London W1D 4SG
This busy, bright Japanese café specialises in a particularly plump kind of udon noodle – they’re the thick doughy ones, first developed in the remote region of Sanuki. Here, as in Japan, on-site chefs knead fresh noodles daily – with their feet. Complemented by seaweed-rich dashi broth, and tasty in the extreme, the noodles draw crowds of devotees daily; you may well have to share space around the plain wooden tables. Noodles are served in three ways – hot with hot broth (atsu-atsu); cold with hot broth (hiya-atsu); or cold with cold sauce, either for dipping or pouring (hiya-hiya) – while optional toppings include walnuts, duck, or vegetables. No reservations are taken, so you can expect to queue at peak times, plus a short wait while your food is prepared – order a sake or a Japanese beer, or even a soothing homemade ginger tea, and watch as your fellow diners submit to noodle bliss.