For your money, it would seem that the best way to navigate Soba Totto at lunch is to head straight for its specialty, its exceptional soba noodles.
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Come warm weather, we're all up for cold noodles: cool, nutty soba; Korean nang myeun in ice broth; tongue-tingling Chinese noodles laced with chili oil—we'll take 'em all. What will we be eating when the thermometer rises to three digits? These are a good start.
We've been making the trek over to Cocoron's original location in the Lower East Side for over a year now to get our fix of their excellent buckwheat noodles, delicate and nuanced broths, and fresh-made custard-like tofu. They've recently opened a new location that's larger than the tiny original.
The last leg of my soba inquiry had me trudging through the thickets of midtown, which may account for why I was feeling so inordinately cranky and flustered last week. But it was not all for naught. I am happy to report back with two options for soba in the area: Sakagura on the east side and Soba Nippon on the west.
This is a tale of two bowls of noodles—one soba, one ramen—on one rainy night. The first because I was hungry. The second because I was still hungry.
When it comes to soba, texture is a big deal. Most of the buckwheat noodles I've eaten, I've pinpointed as being too frail or too chalky, too gummy or too soggy, and so forth.
In the great quadrumverate of Japanese noodles—that would be ramen, udon, soba, and somen—New York is sorely lacking in the latter two. At least, we were lacking in the latter two. Cocoron, a new-ish soba joint in the Lower East Side has brought it, and man, is it good.
Knowledgeable and attentive, with a refreshing lack of downtown attitude and cool, Ed Levine tells you what dishes to get at Matsugen.