10 August 2007

Choose Your Own Miso

Enough about the heat. It is what it is. Gets me better prepared for hell.

Helped my friend Susan move into her new apartment today. She's a musician from Houston. She and her friend David made the trip to Baltimore in two nights by rental-truck. She said that when they left Houston, you could barely see for the condensation caused by the humidity.

I will never complain about humidity again.

Actually, MJ and I experienced this sort of thing years back while camping just east of Houston in what amounted to a big swamp. It was in the pleasant environs of this lonestar marshland that we were first acquainted with mosquitoes whose wingspans were so wide I wouldn't doubt the pests had on numerous occasions been reported to whatever clearinghouse takes the calls of folks claiming UFO sightings in the middle of Texas. It was so humid the tent itself sweat.

So I've no reason to complain. Other than it's in my nature to complain. But that's another issue altogether.

No, humidity's no longer on my mind. The only thing on my mind at present is the fine vegetable tempura I had for lunch.

Susan treated us with a mid-day break at the Korean restaurant a block from her new apartment.

The name of the place is New No Da Ji and if my bearings are correct it's on the corner of 25th and N. Charles. It's this place that's been around forever under different ownerships. Currently it seems they've got a thing for ESPN and Jackie Chan movie-style decorations. Nonetheless, they haul out the biggest, baddest Asian lunch buffet in the city.

Cold stuff, hot stuff, obliging stuff, way-out-there stuff. Plenty of stuff to make your belly tell your mind that you got your money's worth.

Can't comment on the sushi really, because there was only one veggie to choose from and it was a bit skimpy. But the tempura kept me going back for more. Somehow eating deep-fried green vegetables makes me feel somewhat healthy.

The real killer this afternoon was the miso soup.

Miso is so often given low-man-on-the-totem-pole status. It's just that soup. You know, the one everyone obligatorily orders. It's the mozzarella sticks of Asian cuisine.

New No Da Ji has a different idea when it comes to miso.

D.I.Y. Miso.

Yeah. That's right. D.I.Y. soup.

They supply the broth, the scallions, the seaweed, and the tofu. It's up to you to figure out how it all goes together.

Are you kidding? That's awesome.

Yes, I was a fan of those 'Choose-Your-Own-Adventure' books when I was a kid. Go figure.

So there I am this afternoon, after a morning of hauling boxes and bedsprings, standing before the great Miso Sphinx. How much green onion is too much? Can I really take all the tofu I want? Am I worthy to make my own miso?

End product: excellent. And for no lack of unsophistication on my part. It seems like given the right situation, and given a little opportunity to experiment, it'll all come together.

I wish more restaurants took this approach to soup.

Then again, I wonder if the average soup eater could handle that kind of responsibility. Not every kid fared well in 'Choose-Your-Own-Adventure'.

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