SoSoBa ~ The Non-Stop Noodle Shop
“Authentic” is a word often used to describe particularly good restaurants; especially those offering ethnic cuisine. And the idea seems to be that where there’s ethnic food, there’s a complete cultural experience, with restaurants adopting decor, music, uniforms, etc. to try to transport their guests around the globe. Some places master this better than others, but at SoSoBa Noodle Shop, founder Tyler Christensen has no desire to even attempt such replication. SoSoBa lives by the creed, “Unabashedly in-authentic.” When Tyler opened the first SoSoBa location in Flagstaff, he often joked that he wasn’t doing Japanese ramen, he was doing Flagstaff ramen.
Chefs often travel overseas to learn about about specific culinary traditions and preparations of global cuisine. Tyler, however, has never been to Asia; has never sought to adhere to any specific culinary system; and sees tradition as “Something to play with”. SoSoBa’s menu is “all killer, no filler”, with small but carefully considered and concocted dishes. There are no basic items, no replications of classic dishes. Not a single item on SoSoBa’s menu can be found elsewhere; every dish is innovative, surprising, and tasty.
My curiosity was roused when Tyler mentioned that the General Tso’s sauce on their ultra-popular, award-winning Fried Cauliflower appetizer ($10) is devoid of added sugar, and I had to try it. The cauliflower was flash-fried to a perfect crispness, giving a unique meatiness to the oft-bland vegetable, and the sauce was less of a sugar explosion and more of a deep savory lather. Other appetizers of note include the fantastically seared Sishito Peppers ($9) and the sinful mac n’ cheese Balls of Fire, spiced with Sriracha, then breaded and fried ($3 each).
One of SoSoBa’s classic noodle dishes (one I have enjoyed many times) is The Mic Drop ($12), an onslaught of pork in all its glorious forms: pork belly, carnitas, chicharron, ham fries, and bacon all soaking in a marvelous pork broth, complemented by house made kim-chi. This time though, I tried something new, the Zeng He Ramen ($15). Named after the legendary 15th century Chinese mariner, this dish is a bold fusion of New England style clam chowder and Japanese ramen, featuring whole clams, a hearty broth, and a delectable slice of bacon thrown in for good measure. It is absolutely delicious, and unlike anything I’ve ever had.
If I could recommend just one thing though, it would be a thoroughly mind-blowing dish that features no noodles: the Warm Miso Carrot Cake ($8). This thing quite literally rendered my dining partner and I speechless. Crispy on the outside, warm and moist on the inside, with a deep and complex flavor, and topped by vanilla-infused goat cheese posing as whipped cream. Miso in a cake is something that my feeble mind had never considered, but blowing minds is what Tyler does best.
Despite its tagline, I find SoSoBa to be a near perfect representation of authenticity. From a romantic perspective (one I tend to take), art is an expression of its creator’s deepest self, wholly unique, and immune from replication. Authentic art of this kind opens the consumer to previously unconsidered ways of seeing the world. SoSoBa is more than “good food,” it is a delicious and thrilling peek into the minds of the fiercely authentic cast of characters who’ve contributed to its evolution, to create something undeniably original.
SoSoBa is open from 11am to 2 am everyday and has an excellent happy hour, with half off (almost) everything on the menu, everyday from 5 pm to 6 pm.
eat | drink | share | sosoba