NYC Reviews: Soba-ya

If your internship stipend can’t cover a trip to Japan, maybe it can at least get you down to 9th street on the Lower East Side of New York City. This area is great for affordable, authentic Japanese eats with a lively vibe. There are infinite options especially if you’re not down to wait two hours to get a table at Ippudo. One of my favorites down here is Soba-ya. They make fresh soba noodles daily and have a huge selection of hot and cold soba or udon along with other great traditional Japanese dishes. Soba-ya is right next to Robata-ya. Run by the same people, this is another delicious choice. Both are casual restaurants where the crowd is as authentic as the menu.
Like most noodle shops though, they do not take reservations and are both pretty popular, so on certain nights there can be a bit of a wait. But wipe that “anxious emoji” look off your face. The anticipation is totally worth it and there are plenty of fun things to do in this Little Tokyo if there’s a wait. If you need a little appetizer to help pass the time, there’s a cool “rice burgers” kiosk that sells sliders with a fried rice bun and different fillings like vegetable tempura, salmon or pork.

Rice burger

While you’re wandering around, keep an eye out for places to hit for dessert after your meal, such as Sundaes and Cones, or Snowdays Shavery.

I recently ate at Soba-ya with my family. It’s one of those family faves – we go every once in a while when we get the whole crew to go out (which is not easy). We ordered a few appetizers and each tried a different soba or rice bowl. The hijiki salad was very tasty. My family loves to order this dish anywhere we go for Japanese food, but I have to say this is definitely one of the better ones I’ve had. We tried the tofu too, which was a crowd pleaser. The tofu almost melted in my mouth and felt like silk on my tongue.

My Dad ordered a few of his favorites too: the tamago omelet and pickled vegetables. Not the best thing I’ve had there, but still satisfying. We also ordered a dish that was basically spinach tightly compacted into what looked like a piece of sushi with sesame seeds and a soy-based sauce. It certainly helped the spinach go down.

hijiki salad, spinach, tofu, pickled vegetables

I got the mushroom soba, which was delicious! We ordered the classic soba, a salmon soba, a tuna soba, and a rice bowl with tuna and avocado. All were very tasty. We had some arguments about which one was best. In all honesty though, I really did like mine the most.

Mushroom soba and tuna rice bowl

When your friends ask “soba?” You answer, “ya.”

229 E 9th St, New York, NY 10003, (212) 533-6966

-Sophia Daniels

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