Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cocoron Soba: A Bowl Full of Hugs

Soba Tea at Cocoron Soba
 It was cold and slushy in New York City last night and cooking dinner was not on the agenda.  But then again, going back out in the wet wasn't necessarily appealing either.  But I needed comfort food.  A big bowl of pipping hot soup.  I needed Cocoron Soba and to start checking off places from my LES Gastronomic Adventure.  A text went out into the world, and my lovely student employee, Jessie, replied and dinner was a go!

Cocoron Soba is a tiny, Japanese noodle joint that probably can't fit more than a dozen people, if that.  The kitchen is open and you can watch the three men behind the counter work their noodle slinging magic flawlessly.  Jessie was a Cocoron veteran so I let her do the ordering for me (a rarity  trust me).  We started out with a piping hot cup of toasty, nutty Soba Tea that never seemed to be empty.  They even give you a little basket full of soba to steep as they refill.  This began to help us melt off the slush from the day.

The perfect bite of silken tofu!
We started out with the Homemade Silken Tofu that came with a accouterments of bonito flakes, scallions, fresh ginger, and nori.  Jessie explained that you pile a little bit of everything on the tofu and then hit it with some soy sauce.  I will be honest, a hunk of tofu is not something that I would ever order from a menu.  However, I am remedying that from now on.  This was amazing.  The tofu was silky, creamy, cool, and smooth - it was the best tofu I've ever eaten.  It was a perfect vehicle for the smoky bonito, crisp scallions, salty soy sauce and nori, and refreshing ginger.  I think I could eat this every day (and I may just go back tomorrow).

We also had a plate of the Potato, Pork and Okara Croquettes.  They were pipping hot pillows of fried yumminess.  We have no idea what the sauce was, but it was damn tasty.

Sansai Soba
Jessie recommend the Sansai Soba soup - soba noodles in a bonito broth with bamboo shoots, flowering fern (like fiddlehead ferns), woodear mushrooms, deep fried tempura batter, and kitsune (deep fried tofu).  Our waiter recommended a poached egg to top it off, and I can never say no to a poached egg!  This may have been the most perfect soup I've ever had.  It was a little smoky, salty, earthy, chewy, crunchy, and basically a bowl full of hugs.  The nicely poached egg slid on top of the soup and made this the best meal I've had in ages.  Jessie and I twirled our soba noodles on our chopsticks (Jessie was a pro, I have some work to do) and slurped our soup from our medieval sized wooden spoon.  Neither of us spoke for ages as we just moaned and groaned in soupy soba pleasure!

We finished our soup and discussed our dessert options as two fellow Ludlowdians (a term used to refer to residents of our building, the Ludlow) sat down next to us to have their own dinner.  We gushed over the amazing meal that we had just devoured and then eyeballed what they were ordering for next time - and there will be many next times.

Mochi Ice Cream and Coconut Milk Dessert
Even though we were stuffed, dessert was happening.  Jessie recommend the Mochi Ice Cream with ground roasted soybeans, again not something I would ever order, but it was fantastic.  The Mochi was soft and pillowy with just the right amount of chew and adding a delightful texture to the ice cream.  We also ordered the Coconut Milk dessert with frozen fruits and tapioca.  It was cool and refreshing with happy little pearls of tapioca.

Jessie and I found happiness and warmth in a bowl of noodles and it was one of the best meals I've ever had.  Of course, the good company had a lot to do with it too!

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