In December 2014, London saw the opening of den, a new restaurant specializing in authentic Japanese udon dishes. Ramen restaurants have been the talk of London in recent years, and now it’s the turn of udon noodles to make their mark on the city.
Udon has become an increasingly popular dish, known for its firm texture and bite. It has fewer calories than ramen, soba or pasta, so it's perfect for health-conscious eaters.
den's philosophy will center on the idea of umami, the traditional flavor that Japanese people associate with familiar tastes that have formed the basis of their cuisine.
A delicious dish at den — Photo courtesy of den
All of den’s noodles are made in-house, as is their dashi broth, a combination of Japanese ingredients that creates a subtle yet savory umami.
den offers diners a choice of two Dashis, with vegetarian options available for both: White Dashi – made with bonito flakes, dried seaweed and a touch of soy sauce – and Black Dashi, which consists of White Dashi mixed with strong soy sauce to produce a richer taste.
As well as udon, den offers a variety of smaller plates or tsumamis, such as Red Wine Stewed Pork Belly, Crispy Mackerel, Miso-marinated Grilled Salmon and Sizzling Beef Steak.
den has a minimalist design and relaxed seating arrangement with a Japanese-inspired music playlist; it feels like you have been transported to Tokyo. But you are, in fact, in London’s King’s Cross!
den’s head chef is Emi Machida, a young, female Japanese chef who has worked in the UK for seven years, including in chef de partie positions at Koya and Bone Daddies, two of London’s best ramen bars.
While den is usually kept for walk-in diners only, guests are able to reserve for group bookings of seven people or more. The restaurant is open from Monday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., but the restaurant is closed on Sundays.
den’s owners tell us that they chose London over other international cities because Londoners have embraced Japanese cuisine in a spectacular way over recent years, especially with the ramen bar phenomenon. The owners wanted to build on London’s love for traditional noodle dishes by offering an alternative, specializing in udon.
Over recent years, King’s Cross has become an increasingly popular destination in London for top-quality restaurants as a part of the area’s continued redevelopment.