Soba has never captured the passions of New York City's noodle-loving masses the way, say, ramen exploded in the mid-aughts and beyond (have you tried to stop by the excellent Ippudo for a meal anywhere close to dinnertime, even after all these years? Don't bother, unless you don't mind waiting an hour…). Cocoron Soba, a tiny, newish spot that specializes in those chewy buckwheat noodles of owner Yoshihito Kida's native Japan, seems determined to shift our attention. Yes, they are good for you, these Cocoron Soba noodles, and they are the best noodles on Delancey Street in New York. Much more important, no matter how they're prepared, the soba noodles at Cocoron are extremely delicious.
We've been to Cocoron Soba a couple of times now, sampling dishes from every section of the Cocoron Soba noodles menu, and are total converts… or, at least, now have dual ramen- and soba-citizenships. Under Cold Soba, for example, we've twice gone the Sesame Soba route, and loved everything about the dish, from the way you grind your own sesame seeds at the table (mortar and pestle provided); to the noodles themselves, nice and firm and with enough flavor to stand up to the nutty sauce; to the moment when, after you've finished your soba, your server brings over a teapot with the water in which your noodles were cooked, and advises you to pour it into your remaining sesame sauce and drink it down. Don't hesitate: it makes for a terrific post-meal beverage.
Even better at Cocoron Soba is the Tsukemen, or "Dipping" Style Soba, for which your pile of noodles arrive cold and slightly undercooked, and you finish the job by dipping each chopstick-full into your bowl of broth for 10 seconds or so. We loved the Chicken Meatball Dipping Soba, the broth deep and complex, and, in addition to packing plenty of the punchy meatballs, rich with ginger. This was soothing and satisfying even on a warm summer's evening, and we can imagine it would only be more comforting once winter comes around again.
Cocoron Soba offers about six varieties of broth, each described in detail on the Cocoron Soba menu, with an emphasis on the specific health benefits ("for that groggy hangover" "the new anti-aging remedy") upon which you will be bestowed after eating. It can be a bit overwhelming, but we can heartily recommend anything infused with the Stamina concoction, supposedly their bestseller and, just judging on flavor alone–pork, burdock root, shitake mushrooms, garlic, and yuzu–rightly so. We've wolfed the Warm Stamina Soba a couple of times, and been extremely pleased. And if you want something non-noodley to go with your meal, Cocoron Soba offers several starters and salads, including our favorite Kyona Salad, a to-us unique combination of bitter arugula, salty dried fish, sweet-ish cream cheese, all topped with a barely-cooked egg, which your server whisks and pours table-side.
Cocoron Soba is very small, with three tiny two-tops against one wall, and about eight stools at the soba bar, and is located on an unassuming stretch of East Delancey Street. But we love the food here, and we love the design sensibility, from the many-charactered menu and cards and signage to the utensils and dishware to the space itself. A winner all around, and our go-to spot for a quick, inexpensive, tasty meal before a movie at the nearby Sunshine.
Cocoron Soba Details
Cocoron Soba is located on the south side of Delancey Street between Allen and Eldridge Streets, and is open for lunch on Tuesday through Saturday from 12:00 noon until 3:00, and for dinner from 6:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. On Sunday they close at 10:30 p.m., and are closed all day on Monday. Cocoron Soba is cash only. For more information and lots of charming graphics, please see the Cocoron Soba website, here