I keep a list of restaurants that I am eager to try out and love when I get to cross one off. Of course that means that three more take its place. Miso Izakaya in the Old Fourth Ward has been on said list for quite a while. So, I was thrilled when Chef Guy of Miso Izakaya invited me to be his guest on a recent Saturday night.
Being the dork that I am, I had to research the origins of the name “Izakaya” on Wikipedia. The name “Izakaya” is a compound word consisting of “i ” (to sit) and “sakaya” (sake shop). The name has come to mean a Japanese bar that also serves food. Basically, what it amounts to, at least in Atlanta, is Japanese tapas with a good bar selection.
Pulling up to Miso Izakaya, it was so refreshing to simply pull into a lot and not have to deal with a valet or driving around looking for street parking. It really irks me that so many restaurants in Atlanta insist upon valet when it is unnecessary. I actually like parking my car myself and am perfectly capable of walking 50 steps to the front door.
Upon entering, a friendly server greeted us at the door and led us to a corner table. From here we had a great view of the entire restaurant and bar. Miso Izakaya is a beautifully decorated establishment with dark wood and clean, modern Japanese decor. My, how the Old 4th Ward is changing.
Next, we were presented with a drink menu. The specialty at Miso Izakaya is Shochu, a beverage native to Japan. Yes, I looked this up on Wiki too. Turns out it is commonly distilled from barley, sweet potatoes, or rice. There are many varieties of plain Shochu to choose from, but we choose to go with a Shochu cocktail. Our server recommended 3: the ginger and grapefruit, cucumber and basil, or and orange one.
We went with the ginger and grapefruit and cucumber and basil. Both were great choices, with a very refreshing taste. If I had to choose one I liked better I’d probably say the ginger and grapefruit, which was a tad sweeter than the cucumber and basil. But both were wonderful.
Our whistles properly wet, we moved on to food. No trip to Miso Izakaya would be complete without some Miso soup. And we were in luck, there was a special Miso soup with crab meat which we tried. It was excellent and I loved that the crab meat was plentiful and the flavor permeated the entire soup.
Chef Guy came out briefly to say hello and recommended that we order a couple of buns, sort of like Japanese sliders. These soft, steamed buns are something I’ve only had once before but fell in love with them. This time we chose the pork belly and the duck. Both were tender and juicy and just enough meat to compliment the bun. In the pork belly the use of cilantro and other herbs made each bite perfection. I would go back here and make a meal out of these all by themselves.
Next we ordered more tapas: lamb chops, salt and pepper quail, tuna tartar with quail egg, spicy eggplant and pork kimchee. It was a lot of food, but keep in mind these are tapas and designed for sharing. The lamb chops were advertised to have a madras sauce to them and after reading that I was sold. And they didn’t disappoint, the flavor was distinct but mild. They were done pretty well, but they didn’t taste dried, the effect of cooking lamb chops well done. The quail, too, had minimal seasoning it seemed, which allowed it’s flavor to come through.
The tuna tartar was fabulous – this is a must try if you visit. Not only is the presentation beautiful (see pic) but there is a spicy pepper mixed in that makes it insanely good. I love kimchee and the pork addition was just a bonus. This was the only dish that I felt had a tad too much salt, but other than that quite enjoyable. As I felt another vegetable was necessary to balance out the meal, we added the spicy eggplant to our tally. Not only was it pretty to look at with it’s glossy appearance, it was superb tasting, not just another vegetable to pick at, a dish we devoured.
Everything we had at Miso Izakaya was very fresh and seasoned nicely, not overkill. It is been quite a while since I’ve had a meal I’ve enjoyed this much. Go. There. Now.
619 Edgewood Ave
Atlanta, GA 30312
678 701 0128