Restaurant veteran brings Far East to Fondren

Exclamations of praise for Jackson’s newest Asian-themed dining spot have been flowing across the restaurant’s Facebook page since its May opening.

“Drunken noodles and spring rolls are great,” says Carolyn Swanson.

“Best red curry I’ve ever tasted. I’ll be back many, many times,” says Pamela Gressett.

Miso owner Grant Nooe is happy to get back to Far East cuisine years after selling his successful PanAsia restaurant concept to Canton-based hospitality corporation Jackie’s International.

“This is something I’ve been working on for years in my mind,” Nooe says. “I realized there was a need for a quick casual approach especially at lunch.”

Miso California sushi roll: Balls of white rice are pressed and rolled onto seaweed strips and topped with crab stick, avocado, cucumber and masago.

Miso California sushi roll: Balls of white rice are pressed and rolled onto seaweed strips and topped with crab stick, avocado, cucumber and masago. (Photo by Stephen McDill)

At Miso, people can get in and out of the restaurant near the corner of Duling and State Street fairly easily. Parking congestion is mild for the early lunch crowd and there’s plenty of spaces behind Duling Hall for those that can’t park on the street. Nooe says the key is to have a destination for both the leisure lunch diners and the to-go crowds.

Raised in Jackson and a graduate of Murrah High School, Nooe studied music at the University of Southern Mississippi before pursuing the culinary arts at the Le Cordon Bleu-owned Culinary & Hospitality Institute of Chicago.

After working at prominent restaurants in Chicago, Nooe returned home to start his first restaurant 400 East Capitol in 1989.

“It was ahead of its time,” Nooe says, adding that it would have worked better with today’s more active and revitalized downtown Jackson.

Nooe opened the Brick Oven Cafe in 1993 then converted it to PanAsia in 2003. He moved out to capture Reservoir customers with the Fresh Market Cafe in 2002 then made a play for Lakeland Drive’s busy lunch crowd with Grant’s Kitchen in 2010.

In addition to managing his restaurants (Fresh Market has also since been sold to Jackie’s International), Nooe is a restaurant consultant working on projects in Mississippi and the Carolinas.

When the backers behind the struggling Fatsumo’s sushi bar in Fondren asked Nooe to help them with operations, he jumped at the chance and the restaurant was reborn as Miso.

“Fondren is a great area, such a supportive community,” Nooe says. “Its been a great thing for me to be back in this area. The lunch market is really strong here. They want to see all the businesses thrive.”

Customers can order from the restaurant’s brightly lit electronic menu and beginning at 4:00 PM Miso goes full service with wait staff available to come to the table and take orders.

Miso diners can start their lunch or dinner off with a tasty selection of soups, salads or appetizers including edamame, spring rolls, lettuce wraps and salmon carpaccio.

Grant Noone

Grant Nooe (Photo by Stephen McDill)

For the more hungry diners, Miso has a full-service stir fry, sushi and noodle bar.

“One of the big, fun things about it is the people can build their own dishes,” Nooe says. “We do have some traditional noodle dishes. Most people think of the Ramon noodles as dried with a bunch of chemicals (but here) they are fresh and cooked to order. We drop the pots in the water.”

Customers can also build their own stir fry at a wok bar by picking fresh vegetables, meat and adding rice or noodles along with their favorite sauce.

Those drunken noodles that diners are raving about are made from seared ground chicken, onions, sweet peppers, tomato, basil, chilies and lo mein served on iceberg lettuce.

There are also plenty of maki sushi rolls to choose from all constructed with the freshest ingredients like avocado, cucumber, tuna, salmon and yellowtail.

“The thing about the restaurant business is I listen to the people that come in here,” Nooe says. “Those are the people that tell me the truth. If they have suggestions or things I listen to them and make changes. They are the ones that ultimately keep the doors open.”

Miso Restaurant

Address: 3100 N. State Street, Jackson

Hours: Monday-Saturday 11 AM-10 PM, Bar opens at 10 PM

Contact: (769) 251-0119

Social Media: facebook.com/EatAtMiso

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