Cocoran's Killer Soba Noodles | Lower East Side, New York

The big flavors of miniscule Cocoron

Calamitous though it was, professional skier Yoshihito Kida's injured knee has been a boon for New York City dining.

Kida, who runs the kitchen of the Lower East Side's tiny new Cocoron with his wife, Mika Ohie, was an Olympic hopeful until he was sidelined in Nagano. There, he became obsessed with the buckwheat noodles known as soba, eventually working at one of Japan's best soba restaurants for a decade.

Now, he and Ohie have brought not only superb soba to town but also a battery of enticing side dishes and desserts.

Kida's taut noodles are available in more than 20 permutations. A few of our favorites were a wicked bowl of hot broth with kimchi and pork ($10), a Japanese curry ($13.50) rich with long-cooked onions, and a chilled assemblage of condiments ($8.50) fortified with the sticky funk of natto (fermented soybeans).

As with Kida's soba, Ohie's appetizers and desserts swerve confidently between hot and cold. She cures chicken ($5) with salt as if it were a torchon of foie gras, serving it with a glob of wasabi mayonnaise and, recently, offered a blindingly good fried chicken that we already miss.

Two desserts beg for the crackle of an imminent New York summer: almond-tinged annin tofu ($4) and sweetened coconut milk bolstered by tapioca and frozen berries ($6).

Cocoron, 61 Delancey St. (at Allen St.); 212-925-5220 or