SORBA: KOA Remixes Ramen Noodles
Japanese Iron Chef Yuji Wakiya is behind the food at the gorgeous new KOA Restaurant in the Flatiron District of Manhattan, a partnership between Benihana’s Keiko Ono Aoki (widow of founder Rocky Aoki) and the owners of now defunct restaurant Sen. Wakiya’s signature dish here is called SORBA, which is a series of noodle dishes not to be confused with the buckwheat noodles known as soba. The noodles come from Brooklyn’s artisan ramen maker Sun Noodle, which supplies many top ramen restaurants in the city, but Wakiya’s imagination has repurposed them into something new and special.
Rather than swimming in broth, SORBA dishes are served with julienned vegetables in a shallow amount of soy milk broth. The restaurant offers several varieties topped with proteins such as karaage (fried chicken), roast beef and chashu (roast pork). We sampled the lobster SORBA, which comes in a broth of slightly warmed Ko-Cream, a premium soy milk imported from Japan for its extraordinary richness. The combination is nothing short of luxurious, evidence that the humble ramen noodle has far more versatility than is commonly seen.
KOA Restaurant, 12 W. 21st St, New York; (212) 388-5736