Words: Gabriella Docherty
Walking through Camden Town, my inner magpie gets very confused.
With each shop, bar, and market stall calling out to me at once, I become unable to tell the difference between a real gem and a shiny tourist trap. It’s overwhelming.
Perhaps for this reason, I hadn’t ventured into this part of London in a while. I visited the recently-opened Miusan in the hope of finding a go-to venue in the area.
And if you’re looking for a surefire place to have a fun evening in the midst of all the touristy commotion, Miusan – meaning “temple” in Cantonese – might just be the place to go. In the middle of Inverness Street, this pan-asian restaurant offers a great selection of food with late-night dancing and cocktails downstairs.
The decor is a modern, minimalist take on the opium dens of the 1940’s; walking in, it’s all candlelit rooms, incense and flashes of purple against a dark wooden backdrop. The restaurant is split onto three floors, with a more intimate dining area upstairs – ideal for a date or a small group – and a dancefloor on the lower ground floor which comes to life later in the night.
I’m immediately drawn to the beautifully presented cocktails, making the (perhaps questionable) decision of sampling them before the food. I opt for a Chandon: a vibrant orange mix of rum, passoa and tangy passion fruit that went down almost too easily, leaving me more than ready for dinner. Luckily for me Miusan’s menu has plenty to choose from, offering its own takes on pan-Asian favourites. As a pescatarian I’m pleasantly surprised, as there was a wide selection of seafood and a decent amount of vegetarian options.
The soft shell crab with chilli and curry leaves is wonderfully tender, complimented by the salt and chilli baked squid. It’s followed by deliciously plump chilli prawns cooked in curried leaves that provided a pleasant kick. The vegetable dishes particularly stood out for me – particularly the claypot with mangetout, baby corn, curly kale and tofu, a striking array of colours and which tastes as satisfying as it looks.
The crunchy garlic and chilli pan fried long beans on the side prove to be surprisingly moreish. My usually chatty dinner companions go through extended periods of silence while we tucked in – always a good sign.
I didn’t think I’d be particularly hungry for dessert, but when that quickly changes when I see what was brought to our table. The steamed glutinous rice balls filled with red bean paste and ginger practically vanish upon sight, while the sweet potato and chocolate cake, perfectly spongy and in a warm chocolate and lychee sauce, is the best cake I had had in a long time.
While Misuan’s menu contains many familiar Pan-Asian staples, the food provides just enough surprises to keep things exciting. It was the atmosphere, though, that really won me over. More than anything, Miusan is a place that is up for a good time – friendly, fun and laid back. After a hibiscus bellini with dinner (another attentively crafted cocktail with hibiscus syrup and prosecco), I was ready to go downstairs and extend my stay until the early hours…had it not been a weeknight.
All the more reason, then, for a repeat visit – this time, with dancing shoes.