Miso is a paste of fermented soybeans, whole grains, water and salt. It has been a staple food in Chinese and Japanese diets for over 2,000 years, and a bowl of steaming miso soup still marks the beginning of the day throughout Japan, favoured for its ability to kick-start the metabolism and inject energy. Studies have also suggested the powerful anti-carcinogenic properties of the stuff, not to mention high levels of antioxidants and copious other rumoured health benefits, including its ability to strengthen the immune system, lower cholesterol and aid weight loss. It’s a wonder miso hasn’t wormed its way into the world of the health-seekers in the UK.

Cue Bonnie Chung, who decided it was high time the British public saw what they’d been missing. Miso Tasty is a new kid on the block, poised to introduce magical miso into our every day routines with flavour and simplicity. A little box of Miso Tasty includes their authentic miso paste, hewn in the Shincho region of Japan in small batches, cleverly utilising snowmelt from the Japanese Alps. Squeeze this into a bowl or cup, top with hot water, and empty the second pack of umami powder, wakame seaweed and spring onions. The brand prides itself of the separation of the miso paste from the other ingredients. The result is the deeper, more refined flavour of authentic miso soup, with added freshness. It is seriously easy, and tastes fantastic. Any preconception of miso soup as a watery, plain side dish will soon be cast aside. Here, I chat to the savvy founder of this most current and palatable health food staple:

CURIOUS PEAR: What was the starting point for the company? BONNIE CHUNG: As a chef, I love miso soups and and I love cooking with miso but in the UK, the choice available was just terrible! Most miso was powdered rather than a paste and the flavours were unbalanced or full of preservatives. I also found that not many people understood what miso even was! We designed a range of miso paste soups which were restaurant-quality, all-natural and most of all, tasted miles better than all other miso soups on the market. We then packaged them in a way that would help make it accessible to customers – easy to make up and to fit into their lifestyles.

CP: What is it about Miso Tasty that defines it? BC: Miso Tasty is the only dedicated miso brand in the UK. We are all about pioneering miso! Our mission is to make miso a cupboard staple in the UK, educating people on the flavours, varieties and health benefits of enjoying miso regularly. Our product range celebrates all the different types of miso, starting with a range of miso soups. It’s an ancient superfood that we think is under appreciated in the West, so we wanted to champion it!

CP: What are the health benefits of the product? BC: We regard miso as an ancient superfood because it has been drunk for centuries by the Japanese as an everyday detox. Our miso soups, if enjoyed regularly, provide a great, regular source of protein, fibre, copper, manganese, zinc and antioxidants such as vitamins B2 and K. They are also suitable for vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free diets; we didn’t want anything to get in the way of someone enjoying our miso soups! Miso soup is also often enjoyed at the end of meals in Japanese meals to aid digestion; it’s very gentle and comforting for the stomach.

CP: What is it about Japanese food and drink that gets us so excited? BC: I love the delicate balances of flavour; there is never one stand-out flavour; there is always a melody of different notes that balance each other out and take you on a very subtle journey of tastes. This delicate nature of Japanese food and drink is then reflected in the beautiful way in which they are presented and served – I love the gorgeous, neat rituals that are inherent in Japanese food and drink.

CP: Where will Miso Tasty go from here? BC: We have SO many ideas on how Miso Tasty will grow from here! We are currently working on lots of new projects including more flavours of miso soups as well as a cooking line for those already converted to the ways of miso.

CP: What do you think is the future of fast food? BC: I think the consumer will become more and more demanding of the quality of fast food; taste, health and authenticity are all going to be just as important as convenience. There will also be better access to quality fast food in the way of street food markets, giving us much more variety and choice when on-the-go. I hope that this will spell the growth of independent food traders, over the dominance of chain businesses.

CP: Favourite restaurant/café in London at the moment? BC: The business is based in Shoreditch so for coffees and smoothies, I love Forge and Co. on Shoreditch High Street. For lunch, the best baguette in town is at Keu on Old Street for their Vietnamese banh mi, and finally for dinner, it’s got to be Hoi Polloi at The Ace Hotel.

CP: Best country in the world for eating? BC: I have to say Japan because I am still discovering more and more about Japanese cuisine. I love everything from slurping noodles at a casual ramen bar, to nibbling on street food snacks like tagoyaki, to super special eating experiences like Shabu Shabu or enjoying the freshest sushi in the world at their fish markets. I will never get bored of learning about or eating Japanese food!

CP: What is your favourite cuisine? BC: With my family all from Hong Kong, my favourite cuisine has to be traditional Cantonese fare like dim sum; steamed dumplings, congee, cheung fun and wan ton noodle soups are what I am made from!

Words by Meg Abbott

More at thecuriouspear.com

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