#KlaRestaurantWeek: Miso Garden
“Next to Interpol,” is a surprisingly efficient way to direct people who have never been to Miso Garden. To Miso Garden, then? “Yeah, the place with the wooden masks on the wooden sign” and it’s a bingo. Why the masks? Read a little further, it comes up. For the first time, Miso Garden is participating in Kampala Restaurant Week and we had the pleasure of sampling some of their offerings from Korea to Japan.
Starting off, we tried the Prawn Tempura with Assorted Vegetables. If you have seen tempura on a lot of sushi menus but have not connected the dots, it is always the flaky, deep-fried ones.
Tempura is the Japanese style of buttering and deep frying things that never fails.
Sure, the buttered and deep fried prawn is amazingly soft and crunchy, but so are the buttered and deep-fried zucchini, and the buttered and deep-fried sweet potato, and the buttered and deep-fried carrot. It is served with the golden brown fingers leaning on each other at a single point like the logs of a bonfire, with a pile of golden brown tempura onion rings right beneath it like the fire’s delicious embers. This starter is served with side dish of tempura sauce made from boiled soy sauce and spring onions.
A very different starter is to be found in the Tofu and Kimchi.
Tofu, as you may know, is the soft, slightly wobbly white stuff otherwise known as bean curd made from soy milk that is typically salty. Kimchi is a traditional Korean treatment of cabbage fermented with radishes, leeks, garlic, red chilli salt and fish sauce, for a sour, red and very crunchy result. Together, the two bring each other into balance with the kimchi seeming to enhance the tofu’s subtle flavour, while the tofu seems to neutralise the kimchi’s sour flavour notes. A mix of soft and crunchy, salty and sour, this starter is a great way to await your main course without ruining your appetite.
Remember the Teriyaki Boyz from The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift soundtrack? They have nothing to do with the Chicken Teriyaki at Miso Garden.
Teriyaki is another Japanese style of frying, grilling or boiling with a glazed finish. These sweet chicken chunks are balanced with a salty soy flavour and greasy pan fried onions and spring onions. All mains are all served with sides of miso (soup), steamed rice and two pieces of an assortment of vegetables (radishes, cucumber, spinach, carrots) rice rolled up in seaweed, or, as the kids say, sushi.
If you have ever seen a Korean barbeque being prepared before the eyes of awe-stricken diners, you know that eating Korean food can be a spectacular experience. The Bibimbap Dolsot, a popular Korean dish, is one such experience.
What you see is an earthenware pot filled with rice, topped with a fried egg (sunny side up) and various cooked vegetables such as zucchini, mushrooms, cucumber, bean sprouts, and a deep, red chilli paste.
The black earthenware pot is known as dol-dot and retains quite a bit of heat, so that when you mix all your delicious ingredients together, it sizzles from the bottom, feeding your ears and your eyes before filling your mouth with the sensation of explosive fried rice goodness.
To finish it off, consider the Korean Honey Cookie (Yakgwa) Served with Green Tea. Yes, green tea; warm, unsweetened and a great contrast for the sweet nuttiness of the honey cookie, a round, brown, sticky, sweet biscuit.
Green tea may be an acquired taste, but its digestive benefits after a heavy meal do not discriminate. If not, opt for the fruit cocktail; with its slices of mango, pineapple, watermelon and passion fruit and Sprite. Yes, Sprite. It keeps things peppy. Enjoy a bowlful of crisp fruit with sprinkles of black passion fruit seeds.
Photography: Julius Caesar Kasujja