Stained glass wall by Andy Donohoe

Restaurant review: DEN udon

One of the biggest trends of the past year has been for restaurants to do less, but do it better, whether it’s chicken, burgers or lobster. Den is set to do the same thing for noodles.

There’s nothing flashy or pretentious about this local, light and airy, Wagamama-style udon diner. But that’s the point. The short menu comprises of freshly made udon noodles in a ramen broth or without broth; donburi rice dishes, and some delicious sides – the prawn and vegetable tempura was light and crispy and tender, sake-steamed clams tasted like the seaside, by way of Japan.

The miso broth, or dashi, and noodles are both made in-house everyday and the menu changes according to what’s seasonal. Pork Belly and cabbage udon in a really umami-flavoured miso broth was both delicate and bold, without feeling too heavy; while the chicken curry donburi felt like a healthier and far more authentic version of a katsu curry.

Best of all, it was brilliantly affordable with excellent, friendly service, making it a great spot for a lunch or quick supper, just a short stroll from Kings Cross. 2 Acton Street, London WC1X 9NA

The skinny on DEN:

Udon won’t break your diet or healthy eating regime – udon is huge in Japan because it has fewer calories than ramen, soba or pasta.

Everything is be made in house – from the noodles to their dashi broth. There are two dashis: white dashi (made with bonito flakes, dried seaweed and soy sauce) and black dashi (white dashi mixed with strong soy sauce to produce a richer, umami taste).

The Head Chef is Emi Machida – she knows her stuff having held Chef de Partie positions at Koya and Bone Daddies.


This review appeared in Metro on 19 January 2015.

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