20 Liverpool St
Sydney, NSW 2000
As it turns out, med school isn’t the blissful return to my youth that I had anticipated. Instead of hours of free time between lectures where I’m free to roam the grounds of Sydney Uni, I have 20 hours of classes a week to be squeezed into three days, and the rest of my time is spent either at my clinical school (the hospital that I’m assigned to), or frantically studying. Serves me right really, for expecting the impossible. One good thing about my schedule however, is that it gives me an excuse to eat more lavishly than I could get away with before. Not only am I walking my requisite 10k steps a day just getting to and from campus, I’m also spending so much time out of the house that I barely have time to snack. So it was with little to no guilt that I made my way to Miso Japanese Restaurant one day for some of their tonkotsu, after a gruelling 8:30am to 6pm stint at uni (with only a half hour break in the middle, might I add).
Miso is tucked away inside the World Square complex, but if you have trouble finding it, just look for the shop with an unexpectedly large group of people loitering outside, and chances are you’ll be in the right place. People clearly come from far and wide to sample their signature tonkotsu – which is made of free-range pork fed on wheat and barley – but don’t be discouraged by the line. Despite having at least half a dozen tables ahead of us, we were seated in the cute little diner within 15 minutes, and served with full Japanese hospitality.
Chris has always said that boys don’t grow up, just get bigger and hairier, and he proved himself right by insisting on trying the Sky High ($5) – an ungodly combination of creaming soda, lychee juice, and vanilla ice cream. I assume the name comes from how you feel after ingesting the amount of sugar and food colouring in this drink, but I will concede grudgingly that the bubblegum-like sweetness of the drink was rather addictive.
The go-to order at Miso is the Tonkatsu Pork Loin Set ($17.8), which aside from a 180g pork cutlet, comes with rice, miso soup, and the day’s selection of side dishes.
As promised, the pork was excellent. The crumb outside was clean and feathery, lending an irresistible crunch to the juicy pork loin. The accompanying tonkatsu sauce was robustly fruity, and bore an acidic kick that complemented the richness of the pork. It is all very good, but make sure you find time to try out the scoop of creamy potato salad, and the earthy, umami-laden miso soup.
Tempted by the pretty menu illustrations, I decided to forego a second serve of tonkatsu for the Unagi Bento ($20.8). True to the picture, the bento was presented exquisitely, and was almost too pretty to eat.
There were so many things crammed into the bowl that I didn’t know where to start. Should I have the fish cake? Potato salad? Soft shell crab? In the end, I started with the sashimi, which although unremarkable, was thickly sliced and did the job. Everything else on the plate however was great. The highlights were the juicy beef meatball and fried tofu skewer, though I really couldn’t find fault with anything else. And before I forget, the eel was yummy too, the fillets brushed with sweet teriyaki glaze, and grilled to melt-in-the-mouth tenderness.
I’ll admit that initially, I was a bit dubious about Miso, despite the rave reviews. After all, how good could a simple Japanese meal be, especially one that also seems rather expensive for what it is? As it turns out, my doubts were fully unfounded. The Japanese dedication to doing something well, and doing it with pride, was evident here. The quality ingredients and the meticulous eye for detail made this meal a total joy, and certainly worth every cent. And although the rest of the food was good, the real star is the tonkatsu; so next time, I’m doubling down on the deep-fried goodness.
Rating: 14.5/20 – miso hungry.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.