Takashi’s Noodles by Takashi Yagihashi (Ten Speed Press, $24.95)
The Japanese adore noodles and you’ll understand why once you dig into this affectionately written book by Chicago chef Takashi Yagihashi. A celebration of ramen, soba, udon, and somen noodles, the book offers simple yet sophisticated recipes that will make you want to run out immediately and buy ingredients. Yagahashi explains noodle nuances: Ramen is the ultimate comfort food. Soba, which is made of buckwheat flour, lives a double life—sometimes humble, other times high art. Udon noodles are chubby, chewy, and slurpable. Angel-hair-thin Somen are especially light and refreshing when served chilled. Additionally, Yagahashi offers a smattering of recipes for aromatic Thai and Vietnamese noodle dishes, which are now in vogue across Japan, and a chapter of intriguing recipes that use Italian pasta, which is so beloved in Japan that it’s been adopted into the cuisine. Because most Japanese noodle shops offer little bites, Yagahashi includes several recipes for appetizers in this book, too.