Den, London

12.29.2014

"Udon is a type of thick wheat flour noodle of Japanese cuisine" (from Wikipedia). Den is a new restaurant specialising in udon situated on Acton Street at King's Cross. Emi Machida is the head chef and have previously worked in Koya and Bone Daddies. If you have been to Koya before, you should be familiar with its silky udon noodles made in house. With high expectation, I went to the soft launch during one Saturday's lunch time.

With an old pub façade, it is easy to miss the place and no sign yet. Looking into the large window, immediately the clean minimalist design will draw you in. Long communal tables, oversized pendant light bulbs, the light and airy feel gives you a sense of modern Japan.

Menu

The menu is split into three section, udon, donburi (rice bowl dish) and small plates. The main focus is udon here, with choices of hot soup, without soup or with dipping sauce. You can also choose the type of hot soups, between light white broth (made of dashi) and a darker, soy-infused black broth (essentially dashi with added soy sauce). Alternative vegetarian-friendly options are available too. For a bit extra, you can add rice and pickles as a set.

Spicy Cod Roe, Fresh Eggs and Spring Onion in Thick Gravy Udon Set

Prawn Tempura Udon Set

Miso-Marinated Grilled Salmon

I don't know what I was expecting, spicy cod roe udon was strange. It came in as a thick gravy made by thickening the light broth. It was more of a sauce than a soup. The udon is good, it's not the best but I feel like there's something missing. I didn't have the silky texture that you get with freshly made udon or it could have been the sauce covering that texture. Either way, I didn't really like it. Mr T had the prawn tempura set. Tempura was light and crispy but the prawn was tiny. The black broth was good but he didn't think it tasted authentic, the umami was missing. We both went extra for the set, the takikomi rice of the day was shiitake mushroom. It's a Japanese rice dish cooked with dashi and soy sauce along with mushrooms, vegetables, meat or fish. The flavour was very mild, it wasn't until the third or forth mouthful that you get the shiitake mushroom aftertaste. The pickle of the day was chinese cabbage. It wasn't overly tangy and still had a crunch to it. The udon wasn't filling enough for Mr T so he ordered a salmon. The salmon can be easily forgetten, couldn't taste the miso and the grated daikon did not go with it. 

The udon can do better, a lot better than what they can offer now. Their dinner menu is more exciting than the lunch menu, I may go there next time for dinner rather lunch. It's still a while before they can come on par with Koya, for the price it's not expensive and best of all no queue.

Score Rating: 3/5
Price: £10-15/head (50% soft launch, £17.60 for 2 people)

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http://den-udon.uk.com/

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