“I don’t know why I’m getting emotional about this stuff,” said Bon Appetit Campus Executive Chef Vincent Gaikens when talking about Miso, the new Asian food concept in Tinkham Veale University Center (TVUC).
Gaikens’s emotion was spurred by him talking about going to local Asian markets. Miso will source many of the ingredients from local stores, like Rumi’s Market on Carnegie Ave.
“People don’t realize how lucky we are in Cleveland. We have such a fantastic representation of some great cultural foods,” said Gaikens.
Miso opened on Monday, Aug. 26, replacing Naan in the main atrium of TVUC. Miso is the result of student feedback at last year’s food forum, where students are able to speak directly to Bon Appetit staff.
“We had a really resounding call for good Asian food,” said Gaikens. “When I worked in this building, I would see the bags coming in from the restaurants on Euclid, so obviously people wanted that.”
Gaikens said recipes featured at Naan will be used once or twice a week as specials at Pinza’s.
Miso consists of two different concepts combined: a quick service location of pre-made meals and a build your own ramen station. The station will feature kung pao tofu, orange chicken and pepper steak. The steak will come from local farm New Creations in Chardon, Ohio. Each protein comes with a choice of white or brown basmati rice, or lo mein.
The soup section is based around a miso broth with shiitake mushrooms. The vegetarian and gluten-free broth is poured over baby bok choy, red cabbage, regular cabbage, carrots and a lightly hard-boiled egg. One of four protein options, tofu, chicken, flank steak or a rotating seafood special can be sauteed in garlic and ginger and then added to the bowl.
“We’re using exclusively Tamari, [a Japanese sauce made from fermented soybeans like soy sauce without wheat] so we can make dishes gluten-free,” said Gaikens. “There’s a significant price difference in that but it’s more important that we broaden the spectrum and let it be more accessible.”
To accompany the two types of main dishes, the restaurant will feature several sides such as cucumber salad, full edamame in pods and egg rolls.
Gaikens plans to tweak the menu and recipes based on student feedback and critiques.
Student reception to the new restaurant has been mixed.
“The sauce was too watery on the Mongolian beef, and the dish overall was bland,” said Ryan Yoo, The Observer’s director of design.
There are already several Asian restaurants on Euclid Ave, such as Phusion Cafe, Chopstick and NuJoy. Facing such competition, Miso will heavily rely on students using meal swipes.
There will be three meal swipe options: one for a chicken or tofu entree from the quick service station, a chicken or tofu miso bowl, or a choice of egg fried rice or lo mein.
“Especially here at CWRU there’s so many times where food service providers might say ‘this is going to be our Asian dish.’ But are you taking the time to research and understand and appreciate it and to honor it,” said Gaikens. “That’s what I’m trying to do with our chefs here.”