Lunch for One: Cocoron
At Cocoron, the cozy bar seats are perfect for the single diner. Pick the ones along Delancey Street; the corner seat allows the best view of front-row kitchen action. I was after the Yuba Dipping Soba, but they were sold out my last two visits. I will get there earlier next time! Nonetheless, the Stamina Soba ($8.80) is a reliable, meaty standby, and this price is a bargain. They offer the fresh soba cold but I prefer the warm "dipping-style" where the noodles—gloriously springy yet supple—are served cold, but with a warm savory pot of "dipping sauce." Start with the house Soba-Cha ($1.50), tea made from toasted buckwheat (which is what soba is also made of) before diving into your soba dish. The Stamina Soba includes pork meatballs and positively buttery slices of pork. However tempting, you'll be warned not to drink the dipping sauce. Once you've finished the soba noodles, the waitress will bring over a container of Soba-Yu, which is the water the soba was cooked in. Pour the warm soba water into the dipping sauce, stir, then spoon up and drink.
Sides are not to be overlooked at Cocoron, especially the Potato Salad—barely salted and light with grated daikon and cucumbers. It differentiates itself from most Japanese potato salads with the addition of bacon. It's an embarrassingly tiny portion for $5, but still irresistible. For dessert, go with the cloud-light and silky Annin Tofu ($4), four tiny scoops of sweet housemade tofu served cool with fresh mint and raspberries. It's a clean finish to one very warming meal.
About the author: Originally from Honolulu, Kathy YL Chan writes A Passion For Food, where she chronicles her eats and travels adventures between Hawai'i, New York and beyond. She firmly believes that there is always room for dessert.