By Rachel Verbits, January 2017 Issue.

Just like that, it’s winter in Phoenix. This most certainly means two things are occurring throughout the Valley: First, locals are digging into the back of their closets for that extra layer, scarf or beanie and second, they’re heading out to their favorite eateries for warm comfort food.

And because Team Echo is no exception to either of these, we’ve been waiting until this perfect opportunity to introduce you to Sosoba Phoenix, the nonstop noodle shop that opened in late September.

This ramen oasis – sister to the Flagstaff location that’s been in business since November 2014 – serves up uniquely inspired noodle dishes that combine authentic and seasonal ingredients from local sources aka bowls of piping hot goodness that will melt the winter chill away.

Billed as “not your traditional ramen shop,” Sosoba it’s a full-service restaurant, complete with a bar and patio, located on the north side of Roosevelt Street between Second and Third avenues.

On my first visit to Sosoba, I arrived for lunch intrigued, hungry and chilly. The aroma of sweet sauces and grilled vegetables welcomed me as I stepped into this cozy space. The chef was preparing fresh meals in the corner of the open kitchen’s bar.

At first glance, the menu seemed small; however, I soon realized most of the dishes were designed for adding, subtracting and even swapping out ingredients for a myriad of choices. And even at a place known for it’s noodles, I had to start by trying a couple of the shareable menu items with my table to get things started.

General Tso Tso Cauliflower.

First to arrive from the kitchen was a plate of General Tso Tso Cauliflower, which was flash fried and coated in General Tso sauce and adorned with fresh chilies, garlic, scallions and peanuts. I admit, I’m not always the biggest cauliflower fan, but this plate was devoured in mere minutes.

Next up was a plate of spicy house-made mac and cheese balls, aptly named Balls of Fire. These individual servings of cheesy heaven come enveloped in a perfect sphere of panko crunchiness. And, at only $3 dollars each, this new twist on an old favorite is definitely a must-try.

Balls of Fire.

Both of these dishes are tasty options for vegetarians, but wait, there’s more: At the top of the menu, Sosoba boldly boasts, “ Just ask us … we can accommodate most dietary restrictions.” So don’t be afraid to inquire.

As I followed the menu into the entrees, I learned that one of Sosoba’s most popular items is the Mr. Karl Katsu – precisely the bowl of ramen you’d dream of on a cold, winter day. Crispy panko chicken is placed atop a bowl of ramen filled with scallions, carrots, corn, bacon, narutomaki (Japanese cured fish) and a soft-boiled egg. The house-made corn/miso broth is creamy and smooth, but interestingly, tasted more like corn than the miso base diners may expect.

For heat-seeking palates, The Mic Drop! packs not only a punch, but also the most diverse array of ingredients on the menu: Steeping in a 15-hour tonkotsu pork broth, this bowl of literally everything combines udon noodles, there’s pork belly, carnitas, chicharon, ham fries, soft boiled egg, house-made kim chi, scallions and bacon. #micdrop, indeed.

Along with the ramen bowls that Sosoba is so well known for, they also specialize in a variety of glazed noodle dishes. Containing either ramen, soba or udon noodles just begging for chicken, pork belly, ground pork or tofu to be added.

Left to right: S.U.V. (So... You’re Vegan) , Chile Glazed Udon Noodles and Mr. Karl Katsu.

I ordered the sweet chile glazed udon noodles, a dish that combined familiar flavors with new tastes. Drenched in a flavorful sweet chili sauce, this noodle bowl consisted of fresh carrots, cabbage and cilantro and was topped with three generous slices of pork belly. Peanuts and chiharron add a salty crunch that balanced out the sweet, soft noodles for a meal that is not to be missed.

My vegan dining companion was elated with the discovery of the S.U.V. (So… You’re Vegan), which stars soba noodles, Ramona Farms tepary beans, potatoes, sautéed greens, seasonal squash and rayu (chili oil) in a Japanese curry sauce. What some would perceive this dish lacks in, well, meat, it most certainly makes up for in flavor.

Diners craving a cocktail to accompany their meal (or just something to sip on while people watching on the patio – especially on a first Friday) will find the

specialty drink menu enticing. A signature cocktail will run you about the same amount as your meal, but it’s well worth it to savor the flavors of a creation deserving of the name Agent Orange or Honey And Knives.

Whether you’re looking for some unforgettable comfort food or you just need a big bowl of warmth to defrost this season, Sosoba’s “unabashedly in-authentic” cuisine is delicious at (almost) any hour of the day or night.

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