A Miso Smile (味 笑)

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By my third year of college, I had grown sick and tired of eating pizza, burgers, teriyaki, and fast food in general. Nevertheless, I still loved going out to eat.   Sometimes, I would even go out of my way to walk down University Avenue or the “Ave” just to feel the hustle and bustle of the street and smell what was cookin’. One time, a new Asian restaurant opened up called “Yummy Bites” a few blocks down from the University bookstore. I hoped it would be a Japanese restaurant. I love authentic Japanese cuisine. My favorite dishes include “Udon,” “Zaru Soba,” “Okonomiyaki,” and “Onigiri.” However, authentic Japanese restaurants are few and far between in Seattle.   Unfortunately, there were no Japanese restaurants on the “Ave” except for a Japanese bakery, which closed down after a few months of unsuccessful operations. I was their only customer, and there was only so much “melon-pan,” that I could possibly eat in one day. I was also enrolled in Japanese 101, so what better way to practice my Japanese than by eating some Japanese food?

When I stepped inside of the restaurant, I found out that “Yummy Bites” was another one of many “Gogigui” or Korean BBQ joints that were all over campus. However, it felt awkward leaving the place since the staff was so friendly, and I was their only customer at the time. The fact that the waitress was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen didn’t seem to hurt either.

After taking another look at the menu, I ordered the most authentic Japanese meal I could possibly find, a bowl of miso soup. Miso soup is a soup made from miso paste, a blend of soybeans and other vegetables. Miso paste is known to help prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and metal poisoning. It is also known to help reduce blood pressure and weight. As an added bonus, every order came with a complimentary bowl of rice and my favorite Korean herbal tea. Refills were free. The miso soup turned out to be delicious. I had to go back the next day and the day after that.

With time, I gradually expanded my portions to include “nori” and “kimchi.”  I learned how to wrap kimchi and rice into the nori rolls, and dip those rolls into my miso soup. Nori is the seaweed that is used for wrapping sushi.   Nori lowers cholesterol. It is rich in protein and high in iron.  Kimchi consists of fermented cabbage, cucumbers, and radish. Kimchi boosts metabolism and contains more immune- and digestion-boosting probiotics than yogurt.

Eventually, I found myself eating at Yummy Bites every day exactly at 12:00 pm in the afternoon.   Seconds after walking through the door, a bowl of miso soup, and a plate of rice and kimchi were waiting for me at the same table I would sit at right across from the TV. I even got to know the family that operated the restaurant, and I can’t forget how happy they were to see their most loyal customer. They told me that the word “miso” means smile in Korean. Unfortunately, I never even got a “miso” from the gorgeous waitress mentioned earlier.   She moved somewhere else, and I never saw her again.

There were other reasons I would go to Yummy Bites. Every lunch at “Yummy Bites” would cost me only $3.23! I usually paid with three one- dollar bills and a quarter. Sometimes, I would generously say “keep the change.”   Once in a while, the owner refused to charge me saying, “this one is on us.” Today, I would be lucky to get away with paying $4 after one morning trip to Hacienda del Pedro for “un cafecito” (one cup of coffee).

Links:
How To Make Miso Soup

How To Make Kimchi

Miles From Last Week
Monday: 4 miles
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: 5 miles
Total: 17 miles
Miles Ran in May: 87.5 (Personal Record)

Ideas for Future Posts
How to Qualify for Boston
Ideal Exercise Routine
Diet Plan for Half-Marathon
Time for Cross-Training
Running in Parque Central
Time for New Shoes
Running Rhymes
Running in Different Cultures
Best Running Movie Scenes Ever
How Running relates to Other Sports
Let’s Stretch
What do I think about while I’m running?
How I Started Running
Old School vs. New School Runners

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