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I need to big up my boss here, not for brownie points, but for recommending the best soba noodle joint in all of Manhattan. What makes Soba-Ya (229 East 9th St.) so incredibly fantastic is they hand-make their soba noodles which means guaranteed freshness. Plan to go to the restaurant early because there’s always a line-up, which is a good sign. I recommend viewing the menu online beforehand since the dishes are so unusual and unique, take for example the Ika Shiokara (salted squid with guts) or Sakuraebi (tiny shrimp & mitsuba leaf tempura).

Since noodles are their specialty, I ordered the Tem Zaru (hot soba noodles with shrimp & vegetable tempura) as my meal. I was going to leave it at that, but after watching a table of four young Japanese men wolf down salmon sashimi, my mouth was watering and I quickly ordered a sashimi appetizer which arrived first to my table.

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Let me just say the first bite was like tasting heaven — the unbelievably fresh salmon melted in my mouth, leaving me wanting more. Luckily my soba dish arrived before I could change my order. Handmade soba noodles make all the difference. They consistently remained firm and never got soggy and were complimented by the intricate flavours of the salty, smoky broth and over-sized, crispy tempura shrimp. Deeelicous!

My only regret is not leaving room to order dessert. I would have liked to try the ice cream trio which came with yuzu, black sesame, and honey wasabi flavours. Oh well, that means I’ll have to go back. Try not to feel sorry for me.

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