Thursday, June 12, 2008

Misso (Updated: Now Closed)

At least someone's air conditioning was working. On some of the more sweltering summer days, it's hard to think about food, let alone trudge out into the heat to find it. Sushi always seems like a good compromise, however, and Misso was on my list of new restaurants to try. Housed in the first floor of a high rise on Spruce Street near Broad, Misso is tucked away under awning, with a neon "Open" sign. Once inside, however, the atmosphere is warm and crisp (but air-conditioned, of course). And as these pictures reveal, Misso is also more dimly lit, providing a calm, zen-like setting.

Beginning with the seaweed salad appetizer, Misso's offerings are presented well, managing to be both pretty and generous with the portions. Eager to try the tuna balls, I was impressed and easily found them to be Misso's best offering. Employing the ever-appealing "tempura flakes," succulent tuna, flakes and spice are mixed together to form these refreshing treats. They even appealed to my spice-sensitive palate (I don't normally eat even wasabe, I know, I know, what am I doing in a sushi restaurant). The tuna balls also far exceeded the tuna tartare offering, a strange dish of the same tuna in the balls, without the flakes or spicy bite. From there, we ordered two rolls and sushi for our meal. The Dragon Roll (avocado, cucumber layered with broiled eel, sliced avocado and sauce) and the Spruce Roll (yellow tail tempura roll) were a mixed bag. The Dragon Roll was delicious, but predictably so from broiled eel and avocado. The Spruce Roll was disappointing. Instead of yellowtail mixed with tempura flakes, or even lightly cooked, the yellowtail was well done and the crispy tempura texture was all but absent from the roll.

I have been branching out in my sushi lately, departing from what is normally included in your average sampler and more toward things like I tried that night, including striped bass (suzuki) and red snapper. The striped bass was my favorite, with an interesting and refreshing taste.

Because I have recently developed a taste for sake, my dining companion was kind enough to bring both filtered and unfiltered. Choosing the latter, I found it to be the perfect, cold, and crisp accompaniment to the fish. Ultimately, although Misso also had a number of intriguing other rolls that may merit a return visit, its inconsistency on the sushi makes me want to stick to my side of Broad Street for now.

Misso is located at 1326 Spruce Street in Philadelphia, 215-546-2355

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