Cooling Off in a Bowl of Japanese Noodles

There’s no better hot-weather meal than cold Japanese noodles, and Saburi works a delicious variation on the theme. Its hiyashi chuka–thin wheat noodles in soy-flavored broth, topped with egg, sliced chicken, shiitake, pickled ginger, cucumber, and lettuce–is a refreshing dish that nails the subtle flavors of the Japanese-Chinese fusion cuisine called wafu-chuka, reports sunnydesu. Also recommended: unagi ishiyaki don (broiled eel on rice), tender inside, sweet and smoky outside, and served hot and sizzling in a stone pot.

Rai Rai Ken, whose ramen gets mixed marks, offers decent cold noodle specials in summer. kenito799 recommends tasty (if inauthentic) cold ramen with chicken, seaweed, apples, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and ginger.

In Midtown, ramen specialist Sapporo unloads an “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” take on hiyashi chuka, says Spoony Bard: cold noodles in dark, sweet broth, topped with beef, chicken, fake crab, egg, red pickled ginger, cucumber, mushroom, seaweed, tomato, and corn. Not bad, but it may overwhelm those of more austere taste.

A relatively restrained version can be had at Menchanko-Tei, which makes more elegant broth and limits its toppings to egg, chicken, cucumber, mushroom, and seaweed. Other cold noodle treatments here include tsuke men (with pork, vegetables, and a dipping sauce) and sesame-peanut sauce with chicken.

For fans of buckwheat noodles, East Village favorite SobaKoh serves cold soba several ways–a terrific recent special paired the delicate handmade noodles with uni and salmon roe.

And in Soho, cold (or hot) soba remains a dependable specialty at Tokyo-based Honmura-An. “Pure serenity,” sighs guttergourmet. “Highly recommended to escape the heat wave.”

Saburi Restaurant [Murray Hill]
168 Lexington Ave., between E. 30th and 31st Sts., Manhattan
212-481-7766
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Rai Rai Ken [East Village]
214 E. 10th St., between 1st and 2nd Aves., Manhattan
212-477-7030
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Sapporo [Rockefeller Center]
152 W. 49th St., between 6th and 7th Aves., Manhattan
212-869-8972
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Menchanko-Tei [Midtown]
43 W. 55th St., between 5th and 6th Aves., Manhattan
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Menchanko-Tei [Grand Central]
131 E 45th St., between Lexington and 3rd Aves., Manhattan
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SobaKoh [East Village]
309 E. 5th St., between 2nd and 1st Aves., Manhattan
212-254-2244
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Honmura An [Soho]
170 Mercer St., between Houston and Prince, Manhattan
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Board Links: Japanese noodle bars
Honmura An