The New Nolita Cocoron Soba is Just as Great as the Lower East Side Original 

SSPNY Tries Tasty Treats at the New Nolita Cocoron Soba and Discovers it's Just as Great as the Lower East Side Original

SSPNY checks out one of its favorite restaurants, Cocoron Soba noodle shop, at its new location on Kenmare in Nolita.

One of SSPNY's favorite bits of restaurant news last year was the opening of a second Cocoron Soba noodle shop, right on Kenmare, just a couple of blocks from our Nolita Elizabeth Street buildings. Not that the newer Cocoron is really all that far away from the original one over on Delancey. It's just that two Cocorons means more seats (the second is small by normal restaurant standards, but seems palatial when compared to the first); more chef's specials (the two have almost identical menus, but with key differences); more opportunity to dip and slurp what I think are the best soba noodles in town. And it's all super-healthy! If you want to eat food that makes you feel good about yourself, Cocoron does the trick every time. 

SSPNY enjoys the buck-wheat based soba noodles where it is available either hot or cold and with a variety of different preparations that are all more delicious than the last. 
Soba noodles, as you probably know, are the buckwheat-based cousins of the far-more common ramen. They're tough to pull off--sometimes too gummy, other times sadly bland--but the Cocoron chefs know what they're doing: in multiple visits to both locations I've never had anything but a perfect pile of noodles. And for place that's so focussed on a single item, there are a remarkable number of options on the Cocoron Soba menu, so much so that it can even be a bit overwhelming. Do you want your noodles cold (yes please, it's summer), or warm (oh, wait, these are really good too)? Do you want to dip your soba, or pour sauce on top? Are you a vegetarian? Feel like meat? Fish? In the mood to grind your own sesame seeds before eating? If it sometimes seems like each dish needs its own instruction manual, it's because it kind of does... but the friendly, patient staff and goofy, manga-illustrated menu are there to help. It's fun rather than frustrating, and because the Cocoron prices are low you can try a lot of different things with little risk. 
SSPNY decides on cold noodles on a steamy summer evening and gets the Cold Sukiyaki Soba special with a broth of sea kelp, smoking bonito, beef, tempura better and spicy sesame oil.  
 
My most recent visit to Cocoron Soba in Nolita was on a steamy, sticky evening, so I headed straight for the "cold" section of the menu, getting the Cold Sukiyaki Soba special. This was a fantastic dish, the noodles as good as ever, dipped into a broth of, apparently, sea kelp and smoked bonito, filled with chewy strips of beef, tempura butter and spicy sesame oil. A $1.50 surcharge got me a huge poached egg, which I promptly stirred into the mixture. And when you're done with your noodles, the Cocoron folks bring over a watering can of warm water, which your pour into the remains of your dipping sauce for a bonus bowl of soup! 
 
SSPNY wishes they had more sake while enjoying the Raw Octopus appetizer. 
My starters on this night included Cocoron's superb Homemade Silky Tofu, which is somehow equally exciting eaten plain (the texture is just amazing) or spooned into a bowl of soy sauce, grated ginger, flecks of salty seaweed and bonito flakes. The Raw Octopus with wasabi chunks was less pleasurable, not because it was prepared incorrectly, but rather because, as my server warned me, it's a dish best nibbled on when "drinking lots of sake". 
SSPNY hangs out with other Cocoron customers at the new location on the North side of Kenmare Street between Elizabeth and Mott.  
 
The Nolita Cocoron Soba is located in a basically unmarked spot on the north side of Kenmare Street between Elizabeth and Mott. It is open for lunch on Tuesday through Sunday from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m., and for dinner from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00. Closed Mondays. Cash only. The Cocoron website only talks about their Delancey shop, and the online menu isn't nearly complete, but here's the link anyway.    
 
SSPNY plans on more meals at Cocoron during its business hours: Tuesday-Sunday noon-3:00 PM and 6:00 PM-11:00 PM. 

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