Mon-Fri, 11:30am-3pm and 5:30pm-10pm; Sat, noon-3pm and 5:30pm-10pm; Sun, 5:30pm-10pm
B, D, F, V at 47th-50th Sts.-Rockefeller Center
American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa
46th St. to 57th St., Park Ave. to Seventh Ave.
In this country, buckwheat doesn't have much of a reputation, appearing only occasionally in pancake batter, and, possibly more frequently, on The Little Rascals. But in Japan, buckwheat is an essential ingredient for soba, the thin, chewy noodles that, with ramen and udon, make up that country's Holy Trinity of Pasta. And although ramen joints are sprouting up in the East Village like Duane Reades, and nabeyaki udon is on the menu at every sushi bar, soba has failed to catch on. Except, of course, at Soba Nippon, which offers 18 varieties made from buckwheat grown on the owner's farm in Canada, a wall-size photo of which dominates the dining room. The preparations are generally traditional, from the cold zaru soba—a platter of seaweed-strewn noodles to be dipped into a soy-based sauce—to the hot kamo nanban soba, in a rich broth with slices of fat-edged duck. The cold version presents the soba in all their toothsome glory, but the hot is always somehow more comforting. Either way you slurp them, order a side dish of takoyaki, octopus-filled balls of batter topped with fluttering bonito flakes. Those little rascals are tasty, too.Recommended Dishes
Takoyaki, $8; Nameko soba, $16; soba salad, $18