Miso & Wonton: Our DIY Asian Soup Tournament

Achievement: #12. Asian Soup Tournament (7 locations)

Apologies for dropping off the face of the earth the past two months. They have been killer, schedule-wise! But we are geared up for 2013 to start off with a bang (have all but the last 10 items on our new list prepped and ready to go). However, before we ride off into the last sunset of 2012, I wanted to catch up a few last-minute entries. (It doesn’t look like I’ll have time between now and New Year’s Eve to get in *all* the missing 2012 entries, but I’ll bring a few that I can!)

Over the course of 2012, we ran what we called an ‘Asian Soup Tournament.’ I had planned on a Miso Soup Tournament, but since Michael is more of a wonton soup guy, we decided to include both soups on the list. Throughout the year, we hit the seven locations planned, and here are the results of the tournament!

Category One – Miso Soup:

Asian Soup Tournament
Our search for the perfect miso soup took us out of Pittsburgh. We had this yummy bowl in East Rutherford, New Jersey, at a restaurant called The Best Asian Grill. It’s not just a clever name: everything we had there was delicious. Was the miso an award-winner in my book? Not exactly, but it was still a great start to my meal!

Asian Soup Tournament
I also tried miso soup on the opposite coast at the yummy Raku Japanese Fusion in downtown San Luis Obispo. This was part of a massive, and massively cheap lunch. Quite good, although not as many scallions as I would have put, if I’d been the miso chef. I really recommend this place if you need a cheap, hearty lunch to soak up all that wine while you’re out hitting the tasting rooms!

Asian Soup Tournament
A surprise to me was that the House of Lee, which I’d always thought was a strictly-Chinese restaurant, serves miso soup. Although it wasn’t what I think of when I think of a traditional miso (you can read the full review here), it was loaded with tofu and tasty.

But who wins for best miso of the year? Well. It’s kind of a tie.

Asian Soup Tournament
The surprise finisher was at, believe it or not, a fast-food sushi joint in Oakland (our local college town, in case you’re not from the ‘Burgh). Let me just say, if Sushi Fuku had been around when I was in college, I would have had to take out another loan to cover the amount of food I was buying there. This miso threw me for a loop: loaded up with greenies and scallions and tofu, it was hot and sizeable and crazy cheap. And fast. I had not expected anyone to touch the next finalist, but this was the real deal!

Asian Soup Tournament
So finally, I’d like to recognize my long-time favorite miso soup, from Chaya Japanese Cuisine. You’ll remember them as our favorite BYOB sushi joint. While I loved what Sushi Fuku had to offer, I also love the perfect saltiness of Chaya’s miso. I think the reason I gave a tie to the two restaurants is that both managed to get the salty broth and stuffed-full-of-goodies mix just perfectly. If you’re craving miso, these are the places to go in the ‘Burgh to get them!

Category Two – Wonton Soup

Asian Soup Tournament
We do also love a good wonton soup, and rarely start a Chinese dinner without an order. House of Lee delievered on this end as well, and I like a place that can do both a miso and a wonton.

Asian Soup Tournament
We didn’t have as much wonton as we did miso this year (although we did have a number of wonton takeouts, which we didn’t photograph), so I’ll get to the awards already. Runner-up in the Best Wonton category is from The Chinatown Inn, which we just had in the past month. This was packed to the brim of the bowl, featured a hearty heaping of scallions and green onions, and was hot as can be. While I appreciated the different approach to the noodles (thick, flat noodles, instead of filled wontons), I think that’s what kept this in the runner-up position.

Asian Soup Tournament
And that leaves The Great Wall, my favorite Chinese restaurant of all time. I’ve been coming here since I was barely old enough to hold chopsticks, and for good reason: their food is the best in the city. The wonton soup is no exception, which is why it gets my vote for Best Wonton Soup. After the great green onion scare of Beaver County, they only give you scallions by request, but when you request them, they are plentiful. The wontons are huge and soft, but never soggy. The chicken strips throughout are fresh and juicy. The broth is heavenly. It’s salty, it’s hot, and it’s wonderful.

So, what do you think? Any other places that should be on this list that we should check out? You never know when we’ll re-do a food challenge Achievement!

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Filed under #12, #12-12, asian soup, chinese food, miso soup, restaurant, wonton soup

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