Monday, 23 November 2009
Misato, 11 Wardour Street, London, W1D 6PG
We were talking about this place even before we moved to London. Back in the days when we were students, and the main criteria on where to eat was the price, this was recommended to us by a friend. That criteria remains the same today, but with alot more experience along the way, we now know which places are reasonably cheap, but also good.
So, one day, when we were in central London not knowing what to eat, and without much preference to help us make up our minds, we decided to visit the old favourite that is Misato. It’s by no means fine dining, ambience consists of having space for your coat, and there is usually a half an hour queue before getting to your table, but hey, when you come to Misato, you know what you’re coming for.
The main reasons I can see for coming to Misato are the prices (low) and the portions (gigantic). The menu is made from one of those clear binder file things, with printed A4 sheets, and the things served here are what I would call, cafe-style, fast and convenient Japanese one-plate meals. The fish is definitely not the freshest in London, but good enough to sit alongside the conveyor belt stuff. Most of the people eating here don’t come for the fish, but zoom straight for the good value, portion-friendly, pocket friendly meat with rice dishes.
Two portions of Japanese tea came in separate little pots (not necessary) but were disappointingly lukewarm. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no tea connoisseur and probably can’t tell the difference between a £500-per-glass type tea to, say, hot water with some colouring, but all I was asking for was for hot tea. There’s something about lukewarm tea that puts me off it.
Mixed sushi £7
We started off with the mixed sushi, despite knowing full well (as I said above) that the fish here wouldn’t be that fresh, but we were just on full eating mode that dinnertime, and wanted to order everything and so we did. Surprisingly moist and flavourful rice here, as there are so many sushi places that serve rice without any flavouring whatsoever. To me, that denies the fish of the platform to which it deserves, because while the fish may be fresh and sweet, if it’s going to be served with rice, that rice should be moist, slightly vinegary, slightly salty, and just perfectly chewy.
Katsudon £6.80 – deep fried breaded pork cutlet and vegetables with egg sauce on a bed of rice
This was one of my first loves in Japanese cuisine. When I was younger and could afford those calories, I used to order this everytime I went to a Japanese restaurant. The comfortable feeling I had after I finished an entire serving of this, accompanied by the less comfortable feeling of not being able to stand up straight from being too full, was always an indicator that the katsudon I had was just so nice.
The best thing about this dish in Misato is the fact that they get the egg just right; slightly runny, just so soft and wobbly, and very umami. The pork cutlet could have been slightly more juicy, as the version I had either was very lean to begin with, or had been deep fried so long that whatever moisture was in it to begin with had gone out the window.
Katsu curry £6.20 – deep fried pork cutlet with curry sauce on rice
The sausage and mash of Japanese cuisine, in my opinion; perfect comfort food. What’s not to like about this dish? Deep fried pork, with a sweet, thick, slightly spice curry sauce drenched over it, making it just that bit slightly soggy. Eaten with steamed Japanese rice, perfect for a rainy London day. The version here was good, but could have been more moist.
Despite what some people might say about Misato (long queues, large unsophisticated portions, etc.) it is always consistent here. There is always a consistently long queue outside the restaurant, everyone consistently stares at you and your dinner while queuing, the portions are consistently big, and the prices are consistently reassuring. Would I recommend this place? Sure, just expect big portions and a takeaway bag.
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