The making of soba noodles is a kind of performance art, typically executed behind glass in a spartan room paneled with light wood. This is how it’s done at SobaKoh, Manhattan’s latest soba source, where the kitchen serves the organic buckwheat noodles every which way: cold, with dipping sauce or tofu; hot in dashi broth; and fried with sea salt. Buckwheat flour is turned into rice, risotto, and even a soft, round form the chef likens to gnocchi. And where there’s gnocchi, there’s often broccoli rabe—even here, in the unlikeliest of settings, where it’s seasoned with white sesame paste or soy and bonito flakes.
309 E. 5th St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-254-2244
Considering that the original Los Angeles branch of Koi caters to a fashion-obsessed crowd, its new New York location, inside the Bryant Park Hotel and footsteps away from Fashion Show Central, seems perfect. So does the Asian-inspired menu—a hotel-restaurant requisite these days—which cannily combines enough raw fish to satisfy the low-carb crowd with fusion dishes like albacore “Italiano” with basil-ponzu emulsion, and fingerling-potato-and-shishito purée.
40 W. 40th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-642-2100
A lot of baklava seems like it’s been practically pickled in syrup and then drenched in honey. Not so at Güllüoglu, the first American branch of a venerable Turkish chain. Situated among Coney Island Avenue’s myriad kebab houses, the relatively posh bakery and café imports all its confections from the home branch in Gaziantep, the pistachio capital of Turkey. As you might expect, then, pistachios play a crucial role in Güllüoglu’s repertoire, from the emerald-green single-phyllo-layered baklava to the nut-speckled kadayif, a crunchy square of shredded phyllo extolled by no less an authority than Sip Sak chef-owner Orhan Yegen, who tipped us off to the place. Güllüoglu’s pastries are sweet but not cloyingly so; even better might be the su böregi, a golden-crusted, multilayered noodle pudding of sorts riddled with cheese or spinach and traditionally eaten for breakfast.
1985 Coney Island Ave., nr. Ave. P, Midwood, Brooklyn; 718-645-1822
And . . .
No New York nook has more star power per square inch than Joe, the West Village coffee bar: On any given day, you’re likely to find yourself vying for a latte with Sarah Jessica Parker, spot baker-actress Amy Sedaris dropping off cupcakes, or even witness Philip Seymour Hoffman toddle in in his flip-flops. A bigger branch opening this week brings the same great coffee, espresso, and—who knows?—maybe a highly caffeinated celebrity or two to the East Side
9 E. 13th St., nr. University Pl.; 212-924-7400