17 December 2014

Use Your Noodle: Den Udon Restaurant Review

My office has a decent enough canteen, but I'm always on the look out for new lunch spots in and around King's Cross. I'm also usually hungry for a bargain, so when I heard that a new Japanese noodle restaurant called Den had opened up on Acton Street and was offering 50% off food during its soft launch this week, I didn't need much time to noodle over my lunch plans today. I didn't have my camera with me today, so apologies for the low-quality iPhone snaps.

When I was in Japan in May, one of my favourite meals was a big bowl of handmade soba noodles, which I slurped overlooking a gorgeous backdrop in Arashiyama, on the outskirts of Kyoto. Udon noodles, which are Den's speciality, are thicker than soba but just as delicious. On the Den lunch menu, you can choose from a variety of hot udon soups, which range in price from £6.50 for the plain option to £11.50 for the prawn tempura udon. You can also choose between the light white broth and a darker, soy-infused black broth (and vegetarian-friendly versions of both are available). For an extra £2 you can convert your soup to a set meal with sides of rice and pickles.

I love me some prawn tempura and, nudged by the 50% discount, I went ahead and ordered it. Den also serves beer, sake, wine, cocktails and soft drinks, but as I had to go back to work, I stuck to a ginger beer. My noodles arrived swiftly and they were very tasty indeed. I never feel very elegant when I slurp my way through them, but there is something wonderfully comforting about a big bowl of noodle soup when it's cold outside. Next time, I would like to try the black broth, which I suspect is more flavoursome than the subtler notes of the white broth. The prawns were particularly good. They were served on the side, but I dropped them straight into the soup, which meant that each mouthful of broth contained tiny pieces of delicious batter.

Den is located on the corner of Acton Street and King's Cross Road, on the site of another Japanese restaurant called Shibuya, which I often saw on my journey to work but never visited. The restaurant is small but light, airy and with a clean, minimalist design: I loved the oversized pendant light bulbs and the stained glass windows on one side of the restaurant. There are long communal tables, which makes life easy for lone diners and medium-sized groups alike.

King's Cross is finally becoming a great dining destination, and it's nice to have a great new udon-eria in the neighbourhood.

Den. 2 Action Street, London, WC1X 9NA (Tube: King's Cross). Website. Twitter.

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