Finally getting myself over to Miso Izakaya in Inman Park was the result of two things: 1) Blogger friends repeatedly asking whether I had tried Miso Izakaya’s pork belly or crispy duck buns, and 2) a new iPhone app I’ve been beta testing, Trumpet. It’s one thing when people tell me I HAVE to visit a restaurant, but it’s another when an app does. Trumpet gives personalized restaurant recommendations based on simple star ratings you give places you visit. I had spent about a week playing around with Trumpet by rating restaurants (and drooling over its design: the photos are GORGEOUS), and it was starting to give me feedback on places I would like. Miso Izakaya popped up on my screen along with a “You’ll Love It!” and I decided it was time to go.
An “izakaya” is a Japanese drinking establishment that also serves food. Plates are small, but more substantial than tapas. Mario and I went one Friday evening and were promptly seated. I already knew I wanted to try both the pork belly and crispy duck buns, but I also decided to add an order of steamed gyoza (pork filled dumplings, sweet toasted sesame soy sauce) to round out my meal. Mario had the tempura (lumpy “batter fried” tiger shrimp, shitake mushroom, sweet potato, freshly grated daikon in dashi dipping sauce) and a chicken and rice bowl, the name of which I unfortunately can’t remember.
The pork belly and duck buns came on airy, slightly sticky steamed buns. I preferred the pork belly to the crispy duck, which I found slightly dry. The steamed gyoza were delicious, but I hear the pan-fried version is even better than the steamed. Next time! Mario inhaled his chicken and rice bowl and was in awe at the enormous shrimp in the tempura basket. One note about our visit: the gyoza was not my first choice for a dish. I really wanted to try either the fried oyster or scallop dishes, but both were sold out. So be mindful that some dishes may not be available later in the evening.
Speaking of evenings, Miso Izakaya recently started offering a limited late-night menu from 10pm-12pm. This includes their new Tonkotsu Ramen, which I knew warranted a return trip after seeing Chow Down Atlanta’s Twitpic and subsequent blog post. So here’s the big bowl of goodness:
Wow, wow, wow. Within this enormous bowl are kakuni (braised pork), soft-boiled egg, bamboo shoots, wood ear mushrooms, sautéed corn, naruto (the swirly pink and white thing, which is fish paste), scallions, and sesame seeds. I’m no ramen expert so take my interpretations with a grain of salt, but the broth was light enough that you could taste and enjoy each of the toppings, but still flavorful on its own. I slurped up all my noodles, and much of the broth afterward Although dessert is not included on the late night menu, we arrived close enough to 10pm for Mario to snag a bowl of green tea ice cream for himself. Yum!
Putting aside all the delicious food and great prices at Miso Izakaya for a moment, my one complaint on both visits was the service. There’s really no reason my glass of Sprite should remain empty for 15 minutes when we’re the only people in the restaurant! And no, I don’t need a refill while you clear the table and we take care of the check. Despite that, overall my visits to Miso Izakaya have been enjoyable. The small plates allow you to try a lot for not a lot of $$, and everything I’ve tried has been great. So, have YOU tried those pork belly or crispy duck buns yet??
Oh, and if you want to try Trumpet out, go here. And you can tell ‘em I sent ya