Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Soba Delights at Cocoron, Lower East Side, New York City

After my lovely meal at Hibino in Cobble Hill, my obsession for homemade noodles and tofu was excelerated. So, with my friend Becky in tow, we headed over to the newly opened Cocoron Soba in the Lower East Side.
Whereas Habino specializes in Kyoto style dishes, Cocoron's identity is based on soba, or thin buckwheat noodles. We were laughing as we sat down as the manga (Japanese cartoons) and the menu had some very creative ways of arguing that soba is incredibly healthy.  We just thought it was wonderfully tasty. We began with warm yuba soba (pictured at the top of this post.) It consisted of a milky soy broth, kept warm with a sterno. We followed the directions as dipped our soba in for 10 seconds to warm them in the creamy liquid. We swirled the yuba, or tofu skin, for 15 seconds until it had the slimy, moist texture of egg whites. The dish was comforting.

We also shared the Chicken Burdock Dip Soba.  This hot pot had a broth that was fuller and was loaded with homemade chicken meatballs, shitake mushrooms and thinly sliced burdock root. It would be lovely on a cold winter day. Again, you swirled in the soba and at it with the lovely broth.
We were both enjoyed a side dish of miso coleslaw. What arrived was bright purple cabbage, steamed so it was tender but still having some bite. It was draped in a light miso dressing and was a good break to the soba. were both pleased with the miso coleslaw. What arrived was bright purple cabbage, steamed so that it was tender while still having bite and draped in a light miso dressing. Like at Habino, Cocoron's tofu dish was served with freshly grated ginger and scallions. But here I enjoyed one other treat: bonito or, well, fish flakes. 

Like at Habino, Cocoron's homemade tofu dish was served with freshly grated ginger and scallions. But here smoky bonito fish flakes were like flavored shards that  melted on the tofu. . Finally, we were offered sobu-yu or the water that the soba is cooked in. Again, both the menu and our server informed us that it was so healthy as the protein in soba leaches into the cooking water. You drink it, essentially like tea. I can't say I was downing the stuff, but at the end of the meal, it was...interesting!
Between this and Habino, I am left with an irony. In Boston and Cambridge, we have many wonderful sushi restaurants, but homemade tofu? Homemade soba? Udon? Kyoto-style sushi?  Until there is such a place, these restaurants are just more reasons to return to New York.

Cocoron Soba, 61 Delancy Street, Lower East Side, New York City

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