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Omnivore - Fat Friday: a visit to Miso Izakaya

Restaurant slammed with crowds

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My Fat Friday dinner group dined last week at Miso Izakaya. Few restaurants have improved as radically for the better over time as this one, thanks to the creativity of chef-owner Guy Wong.

I'm not the only one to discover that, of course. In April, Bon Appetit called the restaurant one of the six top izakayas in the country. No wonder the place was overwhelmed with business Friday night and the kitchen had difficulty keeping up. By coincidence, half of our party of six received their food promptly, while the rest of us had a pretty prolonged wait. Nobody at our table was drinking, which ordinarily is part of any izakaya's scene. So if you go on a crowded Friday night, plan to drink sake or shochu while you wait.

Chef Wong's small plates were as good as always. Standouts included:

Pork kimchi rice: This dish, a Korean classic, is pure comfort — with a kick. Wong tosses kimchi with fried rice and pieces of pork. Then he tops it with a fried egg,

Kakuni bun: Call this a Japanese slider. It's a fluffy folded bun stuffed with braised pork belly, daikon, cilantro, a bit of chili pepper and pickled carrot. The latter provides an acidic note that reduces the pork belly fat's pervasiveness. And it's only $4, as are two others on the menu.

Seared skirt steak: The meat is seared in tare and served in medium-rare slices over a puree of kabocha squash with grilled scallion tips. It's one of the best treatments of skirt steak around town.

Corn kari-age: Corn, naturally sweet, is fried in light tempura and served with contrasting green tea salt. Addictive. Say good-bye to popcorn.

I could go on. We also liked the tonkatsu, a crispy cutlet of pork tenderloin and the fried camembert cheese with basil-tomato jam and candied ginko nuts. There are lots more adventurous dishes on the menu but the Fat Friday boys inevitably order less challenging dishes.

Wong has lately become famous among late-nighters for his ramen, only available after 10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, when the restaurant is open until midnight.