Miyagi Bold Street, 77 Bold St, Liverpool, L1 4EZ – Visit Now
Liverpool’s Bold Street stands proud as the city’s top destination for food lovers. All types of cuisine can be found along this lengthy, well-kept street, from high-end Italian restaurants and casual coffee shops, to more out-there spaces such as the raved-about Maray. The most niche of these is Miyagi, a pan-Asian tapas restaurant boasting a soul and Motown soundtrack, apparently named after a character from the weirdly influential 1980s film, The Karate Kid.
It might sound like something Alan Partridge would come up with in the full throes of a debilitating fever, but hey, word of mouth is everything and Mister Miyagi has it in spades. So much so they’ve even opened another branch across town, on Allerton Road.
The Bold Street restaurant is an elegant space, narrow and long with dark wood panelling, high ceilings and low lighting. The feel is laid-back and easy-going, as you’d expect from a street food restaurant, with groups of people nipping in to laugh and chat with the staff. No airs and graces here. There are a couple of seating sections but the space at the rear looks a bit cramped so if you value your personal space, bag a booth.
The food menu is split into three sections: garden, sea and land. Or in plain English, vegetarian, seafood and meat, with ten or so options on each. Pleasingly, there are some true wild card offerings – I pass on the ramen gnocchi bolognese but take the advice of our delightfully upbeat server and order the sticky chilli beef nori taco. It’s a risk. One of the worst things I’ve ever eaten was a sashimi taco at a Teppinyaki restaurant in Manchester – that’s an actual dry corn taco shell stuffed with chunks of salmon and tuna. It still haunts me.
A fragile seaweed shell is crammed with those wonderful wiggly strips of stick chili beef and a small amount of sushi rice
Thankfully, this taco is made of seaweed and is about as far away from ‘tacos sashimi’ as it gets. A fragile seaweed shell is crammed with those wonderful wiggly strips of stick chili beef and a small amount of sushi rice, before being slathered with that most umami of sauces, Kewpie mayonnaise. (If you haven’t tried Kewpie mayo yet, run out and buy a vat now. It’s a smoother, creamier top tier style of mayonnaise, made with rice vinegar and lacking that unpleasant eggy whiff standard mayo often has.) Each mouthful delivers a remarkable mix of flavours and textures, crunchy and squishy, sweet, creamy and spicy. It’s easily the best dish on the menu.
The tempura prawns are a good choice, if a little safe. The batter is light, hot and fluffy, the prawns fresh, and the creamy and not-too-fiery wasabi aioli makes for a surprisingly moreish dipping sauce. The robatao fired yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) are another fine but slightly unadventurous option. The chicken comes in large chunks coated in a soy glaze, and it would be nice if the spring onion was glazed and grilled too.
Miyagi’s edamame beans are pretty much the best these humbles beans get. They’re covered in the exact amount of spicy soy sauce, sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds, and impossibly addictive. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the shiitake mushroom and tofu ramen. It comes with a ‘super slow poached egg’ which once prodded, beautifully dissolves into the miso broth, but ultimately tastes of precisely nothing. The end result is a bland, milky bowl of noodles and soggy vegetables, and the only dish on the menu I’d avoid in future.
On the other hand, I’d go for the hot and sticky Korean wings every time. These deep red chicken wings are speckled with monochrome sesame seeds, and the chicken wing connoisseur will appreciate just how effortlessly the bones slide out. They’re spicy, not in a sledgehammer tastebud-destroying way, but subtly, in a way that highlights the quality of the sriracha sauce.
The spiced plum and vanilla panna cotta is the best of the desserts. This jiggling mound of jelly-like cream comes stabbed with crunchy ginger snaps, chunks of strawberry and a gentle plum compote. It’s a fresh, light end to a rollercoaster meal.
Whatever you do, don’t leave without trying the sticky beef taco
It’s not hard to see why Mr Miyagi is so popular. It’s a friendly, bustling place, easy on the eye, that serves up both classic dishes and more eyebrow-raising options – which often prove to be the best. And whatever you do, don’t leave without trying the sticky beef taco. In a perfect world, this messy, sloppy snack is bigger than the Big Mac.