For a town so rich in culinary talent, I've always wondered why the Korean food here in Austin just doesn't measure up. Maybe it's me being overly critical, but for so many years I've longed to find a place that could satisfy my frequent cravings. So when I discovered that a new restaurant had opened, I knew we needed to pay them a visit.
Miso offers a variety of Korean and Japanese staples on their menu, as well as a number of signature dishes including bulgogi fajitas and Hawaiian chicken. Portions were large and the lunch specials were a steal! Just check out that spread above!
The dolsot (literally translated "rock pot") bibimbap came out steaming hot and beautifully assembled. After waiting a few minutes to ensure the formation of a layer of crisp, charred rice, I dove in with my spoon and got to mixing...
I was a little nervous taking that first bite, afraid I'd be disappointed as I'd been so many times before at other Korean eateries, but...it was glorious! All of the individual components were seasoned well and the moisture content of the rice was spot on. I know it may sound like a silly and insignificant factor, but it's quite the contrary. I think I cleaned out every banchan dish, sipped my soup bowl dry, and even wedged in a couple of slices of seafood pancake (haemul pajeon).
Now, I wish I could be equally positive with regard to MJ's sushi roll, but I'm afraid that just wasn't the case. The rice was undercooked and both the salmon and the tuna were unappetizingly pale in color and flavor. However, this did not stop us from making a return visit.
Again, we were impressed with the lunch special, as well as MJ's spicy seafood & soft tofu soup (seafood soondubu jjigae). We had plenty left over to enjoy later on in the week.
Miso is offering some solid Korean & Japanese dishes and at reasonable prices. I do hope, however, that they'll staff up and hire some more waiters soon. When we went during the lunch time rush, I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for the one guy working the entire front of the house. Host, waiter, bus boy, cashier...ouch. Luckily, I think the quality food kept the crowd under control.
The thing that really got me, though, was when I saw the door to the kitchen swing open. It was in that moment I realized why the food was so good. Rather than seeing a bunch of hired cooks following recipes, I saw a family working together to prepare and assemble these dishes. They were using what we Koreans call "hand taste." It's what moms try to pass on to their daughters, generation after generation. I felt like I was watching a family in the kitchen cooking up a holiday feast, not a restaurant assembly line. I sincerely hope that the crew at Miso don't lose this special element.
Miso is located at 2400 S. Interstate Hwy 35, Suite #150 in Round Rock, TX 78681