SobaKoh

To ring in 2013, my first meal of the year was at SobaKoh, hidden on East 5th between 1st and 2nd Avenue. After arriving home at the crack of down consuming McDonalds filet a fish and fries just hours before, I decided to opt  for something light to balance out my heavy remorse.

In an area full of ramen shops, I seldom go out to eat soba, nor make it at home and I can’t understand why, even after reading blog posts about places that serve soba with uni and ikura! In front of the restaurant you can see a man behind the window effortlessly making soba. The inside of is simple, clean and quiet and finding a spot was easy (compared to the wait at Cocoron). I looked at the menu and spotted just what I was looking for: cold soba with uni and ikura. My boyfriend decided on the broth noodles with duck. When the waitress took my order, she sadly informed me that they were out of uni. Out of uni???? How can that be??? Our original plan had fallen through and I quickly glanced at the menu again and brashly decided on the cold soba with duck. My boyfriend did not want to get something similar and switched his order to the soba in broth with shrimp tempura. We started off with the grilled Chilean sea bass, which tastes similar to misoyaki butterfish, a nice surprise.

Cold soba with duckThe main course: the noodles were done right–chewy and long. In my opinion it’s an art first acquiring some of the noodles and dunking them into the bowl of broth without losing any in order to grab a piece of meaty, fatty duck. Such small, immaterial issues, which are quickly forgotten after eating that first bite.

The soba with shrimp tempura

Soba with shrimp tempura

Soba with shrimp tempura

did not disappoint; however I would have wished there more pieces.

To end the meal, we shared the green tea ice with azuki beans, an agreeable and light way to clear the palate and balance the savory flavor of the soba broth.

I will definitely come back again, especially to try the soba with uni and ikura.

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Gnocco

One of my favorite Italian restaurants in the city, Gnocco is currently hidden underneath scaffolding on 10th street between Ave A and B , and is almost like a best kept secret. I recently had dinner here on New Year’s Eve, my second time, and always admire it’s Tuscan charm and unpretentious vibe.

Gnocco

Gnocco

The cuisine is northern Italian, heavily focused on meat, cheese and stuffed pastas. We first started off with the restaurant’s namesake appetizer, the Gnocco, and Arancini di Riso. The Gnocco comprises of homemade deep fried dough (similar to the Cassoncini from A Voce ) with a selection of cold cuts and is served unassembled; however the way it’s supposed to be eaten is by wrapping the cold cuts around the fried dough. Simple in concept, this dish is absolutely mind-blowing.

Arancini di Riso

Arancini di Riso

The Arancini is stuffed with creamy medley of peas, zucchini, mozzarella cheese and is supposed to be dipped in a spicy marinara sauce. The marinara sauce can be mistaken for tomato soup and can stand by itself. While I did like the Arancini, I still keep reminiscing about this past summer at Madison Square Eats where I tried a variety of them for the first time.

For our entrees, we shared the Tagliatelle con Ragu e Piselli (homemade tagliatelle pasta with beef ragu and green peas) and the Affumicata (pizza with smoked mozzarella, tomato sauce and Italian sausages). People always ask why I would choose to go out for pasta when I can make

Tagliatelle con Ragu e Piselli

Tagliatelle con Ragu e Piselli

it for way less. My personal philosophy is to pick dishes that would be difficult to recreate. I can appreciate a ragu because it can typically take hours for the meat to stew  and the Tagliatelle did not disappoint! As for the pizza, the combination of smoked mozzarella and spices of the sausage enhanced seemingly basic ingredients.

Unfortunately I didn’t order dessert, but on my next visit I will look Calzone Nutella. I look forward to the next visit and will have a difficult time picking something new to try.

Food: 4.5/5

Service: 4/5

Ambiance: 4.5/5

Value: 4.5/5

Overall: 4.4/5