Miso Soup at Ken’s Japanese Restaurant in Ottawa
Usually, I tend not to order soups in restaurants, especially where I expect to sample a wide range of small dishes, as is usually the case in Japanese, Dim Sum, or Tapas eateries. Chiefly, this is because I want to save as much room as possible for other delicacies and some soups, Miso Soup, in particular, can be very filling. This was especially true of the version served to me at Ken’s Japanese Restaurant in downtown Ottawa but I wasn’t sorry to have ordered it as it proved to be very good
Even a simple Miso Soup, as in my Basic Miso Soup Recipe, can be quite filling, chiefly because it is so rich with umami components. For those unfamiliar, Miso is a Japanese fermented Soy Paste that is extremely rich in glutamate compounds responsible for the umami flavor in many different foods.
In a typical Miso Soup, Miso is added to a broth known as Dashi, which is most commonly made with Katsuobushi (dried, smoked Bonito), and Kombu, better known in the West as ‘Kelp’. Both of these ingredients are themselves rich in glutamates so, in the typical Miso Soup, there is usually a three-punch umami impact.
Typically, a Miso Soup in a restaurant will include only a couple of additional ingredients, and these only in relatively small amounts. Thinly sliced Scallion is almost always one of these additions, and little cubes of Tofu are a favorite as well. Sometimes, the soup may be served with one or two clams, or mussels at the bottom, but, in my experience, the additions are generally vegetarian.
At Ken’s, the Miso Soup was a fairly substantial bowlful (as far as traditional Japanese serving sizes go), and the lovely aroma struck me as soon as it hit the table. As is most common, the additions included Scallion and a little bit of Tofu, but Mushroom slices and strips of Wakame Seaweed were also added. Since these ingredients are also good sources of glutamates, the umami richness was given another boost and the result was tasty, and very filling for the serving.
The one aspect of this soup that was less than idea was that the restaurant almost certainly used a commercially made Instant Dashi rather than making from scratch, and this, as always, robbed the broth of some of its nuances and substituted this with a slightly artificial smoky taste. It didn’t ruin the dish, by any means, and I still thought the Miso Soup at Ken’s was pretty decent.