Tue-Sun, noon-3pm and 5:30pm-10:45pm; Mon, closed
J, Z at Bowery; 6 at Spring St.
Everything about this diminutive spot is transporting, from the crammed-corner-of -Tokyo feel to the super-authentic, and delicious, food. Soba noodles are the specialty, but to start, there’s sublime housemade tofu, creamy and cold in a simple soy-based sauce with ribbons of seaweed and bonito. The cartoon-bedecked menu endearingly touts the nutritional properties of each soba preparation, but ignore these and go with your gut. Most varieties come hot or cold, for dipping or as a complete soup. Choose the soup route unless you enjoy a challenge, but if you do, you might opt for the yuba – housemade tofu skin that you cook yourself in broth with noodles you’ve also cooked. On the side you can add delicate ceramic plates of bright-orange kimchee or vividly purple coleslaw, both of which are worth grabbing by the chopstickful with your noodles for added crunch. And if you’re still hungry at the end, there’s a sweet version of that killer tofu.