Ninety percent of the cookbooks that land on our desks blend together in a clutter of generic healthy recipes, sterile food porn, and bloated chef sellouts. Among the other ten percent are volumes like Takashi’s Noodles (Ten Speed Press) by Chicago’s Takashi Yagihashi and the New York–based food writer Harris Salat. They have given us what’s become a rarity—a cookbook that is equal parts timely, useful, and pretty. Many Americans are just starting to discover the joys of slurping udon and ramen, and Yagihashi doesn’t allow his expertise to complicate the 80-plus recipes. And thanks to the clean photography of Tyllie Barbosa, a Chicago magazine contributor, it’s gorgeous.

Photograph: Michael Boone