Misoga - House of Smiling

Eating Korean in Zurich

Name: Misoga
Adress: Zeltweg 12, 8032 Zürich
Web: www.miso-ga.ch

In the past we have already presented some Korean restaurants in Berlin. Now we want to broaden our series by going south, to a country that is very popular as a holiday destination for Koreans: Switzerland. However, in culinary terms Korea doesn’t seem to have made the jump to Switzerland yet because the choice of Korean restaurants is small. With a bit of luck you will find one in the bigger cities like Zurich, Basel or Berne. Today we are visiting the Misoga in the heart of Zurich. Right around the corner of the Kunsthaus and Schauspielhaus it’s only a few minutes’ walk to reach the small restaurant when traveling by bus or tram.

Misoga means “house of smiling” and that is exactly how we are welcomed by the restaurant owner Miran Lee. The interior of the restaurant is straightforward and simple. Kitschy furniture as is well known from many Asian restaurants is nowhere to be seen. Barely anything in the room indicates that in here, Korean food specialties are served. Only the newspaper cutouts about Misoga close to the entrance or the paintings on the wall – painted by the owner’s brother-in-law Yong Woon Park – give a little hint. The open kitchen creates a comfortable environment and you guess quickly that here, much importance is being placed on being together with the guests.

For twelve years Miran Lee managed the Korean restaurant of a five-star hotel in New Delhi. Because of their daughter’s education, she and her husband moved to Zurich. Miran Lee opened the Misoga two years ago with the goal to make Korean food more popular in Switzerland. Where at the beginning she was serving food from various Asian cuisines – for example Japanese or Chinese – she has now committed herself to Korean food only. “In the beginning the people here didn’t know Korean cuisine”, she says, “but with time I realized that they really like it. That’s why I started to serve only authentic Korean food.” Apart from the restaurant, Miran Lee also holds kimchi, tea ceremony or Korean cooking classes which are always well attended. Zurich, it seems, has acquired a taste for Korean cuisine.

At Misoga, no finished productes are ever used. Everything is made by hand, from the kimchi to the sauces for the dishes to the fruit tea that is served to us in a traditional teapot. The tea is delicious and we are sure that the food is not going to be any different. Miran Lee recommends the sogogi bibimbap, which we are unable to resist. We also order a dish of japchae with chicken. The Misoga has two menus, one for lunchtime and one for dinner. Both of them contain authentic Korean food, Miran Lee ensures us, it’s just that the lunch menu is more simple – perfect if you want to get something delicious in your short lunch break. If you are looking for something a little more classy, dinner at Misoga is the right choice.

With the bibimbap at 29 francs (about 24 euro) and the japchae for 25 francs (about 20 euro), the price are not really for the smaller budget. However, you have to remember that you are eating in Zurich and so have to anticipate having to pay a little more for your enjoyment. But since the food and the tea are so tasty, we are willing to overlook the prices.

 The bibimbap is served in the traditional hot stone pot. Even though the spicy sauce that gives bibimbap its flavor is already put into the dish, it is not too spicy. Even for someone who is not used to spicy cuisine it is easy to enjoy. The bibimbap is served with fresh, appetizingly arranged vegetables, tender beef and a fried egg that mix perfectly in the hot pot. Fresh spinach, bell peppers and carrots give a lot of color to the japchae, which is topped with roasted sesame. Unfortunately we did not get any side dishes as is traditional in Korean cuisine, but that was the only disappointment we met. Otherwise we are perfectly happy with our lunch. We are told goodbye just the way we were welcomed: with a friendly smile. We leave the Misoga full and content and we are sure that we will come back here in the future.