Newcastle food lovers are in for a treat when a popular Japanese pop-up opens its own restaurant in Ouseburn.
A former music studio in Ford Street has been completely transformed into Miso, a new bar and bistro that is finally set to open its doors in September. The restaurant is the brainchild of DJ Paul Stewart, who was inspired to launch the culinary venture by his trips to Japan and by witnessing the success of a friend’s restaurant while he was living in Bali.
The 38-year-old has run street food pop-ups under the Miso brand since coming back to the UK shortly before the first Covid lockdown, including at Wylam Brewery and the Salt Market Social in North Shields, and also proved a big hit after setting up at Barca bar in Tynemouth last year. That led Paul to find a permanent home for Miso, with around £250,000 being pumped into overhauling a “shell” of a site at the Ince Building in Ouseburn into a “beautiful” new space inspired by Japan’s izakaya bars.
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He said: “It has been a long process and a lot more work than I first anticipated. The lockdowns didn’t help, we have had supply chain issues, we couldn’t get builders. It was just a shell when we took it on but we have made it into what I think is a beautiful space and I would like to think people will feel the same way when they come to visit us for the first time.”
The new venue, recently granted planning permission by Newcastle City Council, will have a downstairs bar serving Japanese food alongside wines, cocktails, and a selection of local and international beers. And upstairs will be a more formal dining space with an open plan kitchen where foodies can enjoy Miso’s menu – including ramen, yakitori, and various small and sharing plates.
Paul’s career as a DJ is also a major influence on the venue, as he promises to create a “chilled and soulful” atmosphere by bringing along his extensive vinyl record collection to provide the bar’s soundtrack. After being pleasantly surprised by Miso’s popularity so far, he is hoping that the famously trendy Ouseburn Valley will be the perfect home for it.
Paul said: “It surprised me a little bit how well it has gone down. A lot of the flavour profile of Japanese food is based around umami, which is not for everyone and is not that common in British or western cookery. It really took off when we were down at the coast and we decided to really go for it.
“The building needed a lot of work and it would have been easier for us to take somewhere that had been a bar or restaurant before, but the location was what I loved. I have been coming to Ouseburn for years and I think we will be a good addition to the area.
"I love what places like the Cook House and Kiln do and I just thought that our concept has to work in Ouseburn – the food, the music, we'll also have local artworks being exhibited that artists can sell here."
He added: “I saw in Bali how the international tourists were blown away by the Japanese food and the whole time I was thinking that there isn’t somewhere like that in Newcastle. I just thought the ramen and the small plates would really work here. It is the food that I am really passionate about, as well as the level of detail and preparation that goes into it.”
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