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recipe goodness :: japanese soba with mushroom broth

Japanese Soba with Mushroom Broth

Japanese Soba with Mushroom Broth

I wore my Japanese Haori to a recent dinner party, so naturally that led to conversations about all things Japanese. And in my world, that really means food. As we chatted away, a friend started talking soba, seaweed and shitakes and described his mastered recipe for a steaming bowl of goodness that is true to its Japanese roots — simple, but amazing.  Who needs a Japanese noodle house when you create a dish like this at home? Once you have a few of these items stocked in your cupboard, you can easily bring the East into your kitchen any night of the week without a lot of effort. He provides instructions for both your last minute craving and for days when you have time to let it all marinate and simmer for long periods of flavor-enriching time. Note: you don’t have to go to a Japanese specialty market to get all the makings, most health-food shops will carry everything you need and I even noticed the same brand of Mirin and Soba noodles at Whole Foods.

Japanese Soba Noodles

Japanese Soba Noodles with Mushroom Broth

Recipe from Justin Carter | Makes 1-2 servings

1 sheet kombu-style seaweed
1 oz dried shitakes {or a handful of fresh shitakes or Maitakes}
6 cups of cold water {Justin called for 4, but I found I needed more}
1 leek, sliced
Mirin and soy sauce to taste
Soba noodles
Miso to cloud broth
1 Egg
Chopped scallions

  1. Soak seaweed and stems of mushrooms in water for 3-4 hours {or longer — start overnight or before you head out for work}. If you’re short on time or have a last minute craving you can soak for 30 minutes and then heat in a saucepan on low heat for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove seaweed. Add sliced caps of mushrooms and washed & sliced leeks. Simmer in a covered pot for 30 minutes-3 hours depending on how savory you want the broth and how much time you have.
  3. If you’re adding an egg, bring to a boil and drop the raw egg directly into the broth and cook until white — 1-2 minutes. If the broth isn’t deep enough {I had this problem using only 4 cups of water that simmered away and was absorbed by the mushrooms, poach the egg in a separate pot of boiling water}.
  4. Boil 1-2 servings of soba noodles according to package instructions and add to broth.
  5. Add mirin and soy sauce to taste. Add enough miso to cloud the broth. Top with chopped scallions.

More Japanese Goodness Kudesai:
NYC Ramen Wars: Ippudo vs. momofuku noodle bar
Momofuku That Pork Butt is Good!
NYC Best: Momofuku That Noodle Bar is Good Too!
Behind Bohemian
Love, Love Shabu Shabu: Fun to Say and Eat

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NYC Best: Momofuku That Noodle Bar is Good Too!

momofuku noodle bar

After coming back to 20 inches of snow after Christmas, there was nothing I craved more than a big bowl of soup…or even better, David Chang’s present to New Yorkers, a bowl of piping hot, warm-your-soul, Japanese ramen.

As is typical of David Chang’s Momofuku empire, regardless of what time you go, a line of diners hungry for something special streamed out the door into the snow bank.  We managed to squeeze into the open-kitchen bar seating that overlooked where all the magic happens {clearly my preferred perch anyway}. As we sat on the blond wood stools, we could see the fast-moving kitchen hands lining up ten bowls at a time, scooping  in the piping hot, flavorful pork broth. The broth, which only filled the bottom third of each bowl, served as the base for the precisely segregated additions of diced scallions, shitake mushrooms, chard, and pork belly, all topped with a runny poached egg sprinkled in sesame. It’s up to you to delicately savor each of David Chang’s contributions separately or give the whole bowl a swirl of your chopsticks to marry the flavors and see what this genius ramen is all about.

momofuku ramen w/ eggy goodness

And while you might be there for the ramen, don’t forget to order a round of steamed buns. These made-to-order treats are prepared at the other end of the narrow open kitchen, where a white, pillowy bun is generously stuffed with shrimp, shiitake or pork.

momofuku shiitake steamed bun

The Skim: Love him or hate him, David Chang knows a thing or two about subtly inventive food. Priding himself on using only the freshest ingredients, mostly locally sourced, David Chang has brought good things to New York in his Momofuku empire. It’s snowing outside — time to conjure up a visit downtown.

More Momofuku:
Momofuku That Pork Butt is Good!
Le Grand Fooding ‘Twas A Grand Yummy Evening

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Behind Bohemian


I debated for a long time as to whether or not I was going to write about this NYC restaurant. Not because I don’t love it, but because I love it too much – I was hesitant to let anyone else in on the secret.  But after eating here three times in only a week {a first for me, EVER}, I decided it was only appropriate to share the love – my mother taught me never to be selfish after all.

This secret little gem is a place with no sign out front. A place with a long hallway that leads to a locked and unmarked front door. A place where you have to ring the doorbell to enter. And a place where you can only get a table if you call ahead, dialing an unpublished number that can only be acquired from someone who has been there before (ahem). This is my kind of place.

Sound pretentious? That’s the beauty of this little Japanese food find – it’s anything but. The lack of marketing and exposure is intentional to maintain a quiet environment filled with passionate regulars and excited pursuers of plated perfection. Once inside, you are greeted by its small and welcoming staff who guide you to one of six tables or one of six seats at the bar. The space feels more like a living room, with comfy couches and low cushioned armchairs surrounding knee-high tables that invite you to relax while enjoying each precisely prepared bite.  With white walls and an almost unnoticeable rock garden, it’s as if the intentional zen-like décor was designed to make the artistic dishes the only eye-catching visuals.

Japanese Cucumber Cocktail

The hand-crafted cocktails and meticulously grown and prepared food is the reason I’ve gone completely nuts for this place.  The first time I went I ate at the bar, which allowed me to watch in awe as Take, the resident bartender, hand carved a perfectly round ice cube from a block of ice, and sliced paper-thin Japanese cucumber circles into my precisely measured cocktail.

Seasonal Veggie "Fondue"

We were also wowed at first sight, when our meal started with a vibrant veggie boat of captivatingly crisp crudités served on ice with the most elegantly smooth, bowl-licking anchovy cheese “fondue”.  I could have stopped there an been ecstatic, but out came our sushi flown in from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market, with a clarity that let the candlelight shine through and a firmness in each pinkish bite unlike any I have had since I was actually in Tokyo. heaven.

Sushi Perfection

I could take you through every dish I ate each of the three times I paid a visit to Bohemian, but then this post would go on for days. I will say, if you can swing the premium prices for the washu-beef steak, that is definitely something you don’t want to miss. Since Bohemian is tucked behind the Japan Premium Beef market, you could consider this the specialty of the house,which you will quickly realize with each beautifully buttery bite.

The Skim: If you are seeking small and spectacular, find a way to get a seat at Bohemian. I am not above taking bribes or offers to be treated to dinner in exchange for a phone number, but I won’t post it here.

Can’t Get A Seat, Try One of These Japanese Joints:
Love, Love Shabu Shabu: Fun to Say and Eat
Sensational Summer Sushi @ Geisha
Momofuku That Pork Butt is Good!

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Love, Love Shabu Shabu: Fun to Say and Eat

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I relived my trip to Japan last night with a visit to Shabu Tatsu, one of the most authentic Japanese meals I have had in NYC. For those who think only of sushi or ramen when you hear the words Japanese cuisine, it’s time to expand your horizons to the wonderful world of Shabu Shabu — aka Japanese fondue {x10}. At the center of your table you get a pot of boiling clear broth in which you cook paper thin slices of beautifully marbled premium rib eye, a mound of fresh veg and hand pulled noodles. Everything cooks rather quickly, so it’s best to add a few things at a time and when they’re done dip them in one or both of the soy and sesame sauces served on the side. I like to to dip each piece and lay it on top of my bowl of rice before eating it. The result: beefy, brothy, veggie, saucy goodness soaked up by each white fluffy grain — the well deserved reward after all that hard work slaving over a hot pot with your chops. The upside to all this is that for $24/peep you get all the fixins’, plus that Japanese salad that we all love {you know, the one with the carrot-ginger dressing}, ice cream and hot tea. And if you’re really lucky, like we were, and show up on Japanese Boys Day, you get some lucky red beans and rice cakes. mmmm.

The Skim: Forget the california roll and venture out for some of the finer features of Japanese cuisine at Shabu Tatsu. Whether you go with the Shabu Shabu, Sukiyaki {Shabu Shabu ingredients pan-seared in a sweet soy sauce} or Yakiniku {Japanese BBQ}, you will not be disappointed. It’s great for a group or a hands-on date {I’m talkin’ about the food}, but like many Japanese things it’s small, so go early or willing to wait. {216 E. 10th Street, btw 1st/2nd Aves.}

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