Always the ones to find the silver lining, though, we'll take this opportunity to tell you about a favorite grey-day, winter-weather warming food—SOBA NOODLES! More specifically, we'd like to tell you about a new soba shop on the lower east side that we absolutely LOVE—Cocoron.
Situated on Delancey between Allen + Eldridge, this tiny noodle shop embodies everything kawaii—for the record, that's 'kawaii' being the japanese concept of tiny, cute things, not Kawaii, being the still tiny, still cute island in Hawaii. Back on course though, the shop is remarkably small—it was packed when we were last there and had only a few table tops and then a string of people eating at the bar—but its diminutive nature is matched evenly by it's cozy atmosphere, japanese-tea-house-like decor, and ultra-nice wait staff.
From Cocoron's site—"Through soba, I want people to discover that being healthy isn't an alternative to taste," (shop-woner, Yoshihito) Kida states firmly. "In the US, the concept of health is almost like a choice or a sacrifice you have to make, but in Japan, health and taste somehow co-exist together, and I want to deliver that through my store." The store decor is "casual and friendly, with custom made stools and tables to recreate an atmosphere true to the concept of cocoron," comments art dir. Takeori Motohashi. "We wanted to incorporate our taste and flavor, not just through our food but through this place as a whole."
And of course we wouldn't be writing about the place if they didn't have a significant vegetarian/vegan area of the menu, which they do. We partook of the Vege Tororo Wakame Soba (pictured in the bowl below), which was a brothy, warm soup filled with buckwheat soba, japanese yam, and wakame seaweed; an assortment of exciting vegetarian appetizers; and the Vege Yuba Dip Soba, which was exciting—dipping soba noodles, greens, and tofu skins into a hot vegetable broth and soy milk mixture—but a little less satisfying than their straight up soba noodle dishes.
The menu online gives you a glimpse of what they have to offer at Cocoron—which appropriately means, "heartwarming" in japanese—but they've got a more extensive explanatory menu int he shop, complete with culturally appropriate, crazy soba-centric characters that help you along, like Yamji San up there or Master Seiro, the wise...bamboo steaming basket.
So next time you find yourself wandering around the lower east side in search of a dry, cozy escape from the harsh elements of New York and in need of release from the harrowing pangs of hunger, step into the world of kawaii at Cocoron. Hurry up though—it'll probably be 80° out tomorrow given the bizarro winter so far.