photo credit: Jesse Hsu

two bowls of soba noodle soups next to each other




$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerDining SoloImpressing Out of Towners

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Ramen is a little bit like Beyoncé.

When you mention ramen, people tend to freak out. Ramen makes people feel alive! Ramen gives people purpose. And rightfully so. Ramen, like Beyoncé, is great. But it can also be a lot. Ramen hotspots are like Beyoncé concerts: a challenge to get into.

So think of soba as the Solange of the Japanese noodle world. Soba doesn’t incite quite the mania that ramen does, but the noodles are also excellent. And just like soba itself feels a little more indie, Cocoron is—in our (very correct) opinion—one of the most underrated restaurants in New York City.

Cocoron image

When it comes to soba, Cocoron is our number one spot. The place is bright and lively, and the menu is covered in manga characters extolling the health benefits of buckwheat. The food also rules. We’re particular fans of the “dipping” soba, where you get a plate of lukewarm soba and a little hotpot of soup/sauce to dip the noodles in. When you’ve finished your noodles but have some hotpot liquids left over, a waiter will bring out some of the enriched hot water that the soba was originally cooked in, and you get to dump that in the dipping sauce to make a soup. The process is called “soba yu,” and it’s like multiple meals in one. It’s interactive, and delicious.

For traditionalists, there’s also cold soba served with various mix-ins and a selection of noodle soups. And while soba may be the main attraction, the tofu appetizer and some of the desserts are destination-worthy as well. As Solange would say, “Some things never seem to f*cking work.” Cocoron pretty much always works though.

Food Rundown

Cocoron image

Homemade Silky Tofu

It’s important that you start off your meal with this $5 appetizer: a slab of fresh soft tofu, which you mix up with soy sauce, ginger, bonito flakes, seaweed, and scallions, using a very cute little spoon.
Cocoron image

Dip Soba

The dipping soba options are our favorite, partially because they’re also the most fun. You get to cook your noodles and concoct a soup after. Look at you, working away. Accomplishing so much. We love the spicy Mera Mera with chili oil and minced chicken. The Chicken Meatball or Pork Kimchi are good options, too.

Cold Soba

Cold soba is worth a try here as well. If you don’t want to miss out on the DIY element, try the Sesame, where you get to grind up sesame seeds with a tiny mortar and pestle and mix them into the soba. If you like funky, gooey, stinky-ish foods, the Natto Soba is excellent.

Warm Soba

These are your soup options - more on par with what you’d get from a typical ramen or soba, and it just comes down to preference. Adding an egg or tempura flakes recommended.

Coconut Milk With Frozen Fruit

Surprise: the desserts here are also amazing. This one is frozen coconut milk with tiny tapioca balls and frozen berries. So good.

Green Tea Affogato

Genius. Concentrated green tea, on top of green tea ice cream. Also covered in corn flakes.

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Suggested Reading

Chuko image


Three blocks from the Barclays Center, Chuko is not only an ideal pre-game move, but our favorite ramen joint in Brooklyn.

Ivan Ramen image

Ivan Ramen is an extremely popular ramen spot that started in Japan, and has become a classic Lower East Side restaurant.

Rai Rai Ken image

There’s plenty of ramen in the East Village these days, and no shortage of opinions on where to go. We happen to believe that Rai Rai Ken sits near the top of the heap, mostly because that shoyu ramen is so good, but also because it’s inexpensive and simple.

Ramen Setagaya image

A classic and simple East Village ramen shop that delivers the goods every time.

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