It was Monday, September 20, 2010. My birthday. My boyfriend had set up a nice dinner at Soto, thoughtfully chosen because its miso soup was on my soup list. My brother and sister-in-law joined us since I wanted my family around me.
We walked into a small, quiet, empty restaurant, except for two lone men sitting at the sushi bar. After reading about the Miso Soup with Sea Urchin and Lobster ($10), three of us ordered it. I usually balk at any miso soup that’s more than $2, but “lobster and uni broth with lobster, sliced fresh ginger shoot, chive?” Seemed like justification for an additional $8.
New York magazine described it as such: “Presented like a gift in a traditional urushi-lacquered covered bowl, this is one luxury miso: witness lobster-dashi stock; uni bouillon base made with miso paste and truffle oil; and an a la minute garnish of sliced myoga ginger shoots and chives. The umami-rich broth should be sipped directly from the cup, out of respect for both the soup and the vessel.”
So the magazine thinks we should worship this little bowl, but I think that the editors must’ve been smoking something when they tasted it. I had taken a photo on my phone and accidentally deleted it when I was deleting other photos. That’s how memorable and precious that bowl was to me.
My take on Soto’s miso soup? Presented in a Japanese bowl much like any other Japanese restaurant – even the questionable ones – this is one no-frills miso with just a tiny sliver of lobster meat that you might not even notice. Witness soup that tastes as bland as a watered down miso packet from the store and a load of thinly sliced fresh ginger and baby chives floating in an attempt to bring flavor to the flavorless. The watery broth should remain in the bowl…and in the kitchen…out of respect for your stomach and wallet, respectively, which deserve to be eating and spent on something much better.
But, while the soup was a huge disappointment and the rest of the meal was nothing to rave about, the company was just what I wanted. I was surrounded by love. You can’t get that in a packet.
357 Sixth Avenue (near Washington Place)
New York, NY 10079