Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mizuya Restaurant [水屋]

Mizuya Karaoke Restaurant [水屋] 日本居酒屋 シドニ

614 George St
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph : (02) 9266 0866


Walk downstairs to Mizuya and you’re faced with a world away from the hustle and bustle of George St.

It’s like wandering onto a set of a post modern industrial film set, the place is filled with delightful shades of grey, with some purple, to add to the contrast. The whole restaurant set out is very… geometrically shaped. It’s all right angles and sharp edges. Which I suppose is a good contrast with the fluid shape of Japanese food. And yes I have no idea what I’m talking about. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Mizuya is what you’d call an Izakaya. In essence, a place where the food accompanies the drink. So don’t expect any fancy schmancy Japanese. What you will get, however, is some of the most authentic Izakaya style food I’ve ever tasted this side of the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately they weren’t able to replicate the atmosphere and the feel of a traditional Izakaya, and I don’t think they set out to do so either, what with the Po-Mo décor and all that.

I remember my times in Izakaya in Japan with great fondness. It’s a great place to go at night after all the major department stores have closed and you’ve heard your last, nasal, high-pitched “Irrashaimase” from teenage shop assistants in mini shorts and knee-high socks. It’s a great place to catch up with close friends and catch up with people you haven’t seen for ages. It’s also a place to run up a massive bill at the end of the night/early morn. Even in Japan, Izakayas aren’t cheap, and obviously, Mizuya is no exception.

A lot of the grilled/ fried dishes go extremely well with beer, sake, sho-chu, chu-hai etc, etc. We actually went for dinner, meaning the food selection probably didn’t quite match our needs for the night, but I would like to go again, properly, for drinks and food and great company…once I’ve saved up a bit. Or find someone willing to foot the bill!

It’s a modern Japanese restaurant, meaning it’s not a big surprise to find one of those touch-screen menu systems. Except they don’t have a paper menu as back up, meaning 6 people all squished in front of a small screen trying to make out the pictures… not a good sight at all. The service was fast and friendly, and all seem to be of Japanese descent.

Anyway, shall we move on to the food? I didn’t manage to take pictures of all that we ordered figured since most of you would know what eels-on-a-stick and hot pot looks like.

Here’s what we ordered:

Eel kushiyaki
Octopus kushiyaki
Crocodile karaage
Agedashi Tofu
Assorted sashimi (main size)
White fish nigiri (a pair)
Salmon avocado roll
Wagyu Beef shabu-shabu (small)
Udon (to match the shabu-shabu)
Libra cocktail
Long Island ice tea
Fresh Lime chu-hi

Long Island ice tea (left) Libra cocktail (right)

I didn’t realise they took the description of “fresh lime chu-hi” so literally. I was offered an actual lime to squeeze the juice out of. Interesting.

DIY Lime Chu-Hi

The sashimi platter was quite generous, the fish were all fresh and soft. The tuna was almost melt-in-your-mouth good. I don't really like the overly-chopped up squid though. Kinda ruins it... The scallops were perfect.

 Assorted sashimi (main size)

We talked about the fish to rice ratio on a previous post here. I reckon they're pretty spot on...

White fish nigiri

We saw something on the menu that was just too interesting to pass up. It was the crocodile karaage. Of course, comments like, "it tastes like chicken" soon came up. Well... it does kinda look like chicken, and once you batter and fry stuff, they all tend to taste similar after that. My thoughts on the croc? it tastes like a mix of chicken breast and fish. More fish than chicken, I reckon...

Crocodile karaage

The salmon and avocado roll was ordered more or less as a tummy filler. It's presented well enough, but could be much better. As you can see from the below picture the roll kinda degrades... but the taste was as it should be - to the point of again, melt-in-you-mouth.

Salmon and avocado roll

Agedashi Tofu

Agedashi Tofu bird's eye view

Octopus-on-a-stick (aka octopus kushiyaki)

The aftermath

I had two small issues with Mizuya, which I believe are both easily fixed. We went on a night when the Sydney temperature was around about the boiling mark, meaning the air-conditioners were nowhere near maximum effectiveness. And a 90 degree angle bench? Last time I checked my back is not at 90 degrees … to anything. I would strongly recommend some cushions… That would aid the comfort immensely.

As with Chinese food, Izakaya is best shared amongst a group of friends. That way cost per head comes down considerably. Including drinks you're looking at just over $20 per head to get what we had on the night, which is not unreasonable for authentic Izakaya food.

Linked to the restaurant, but situated seaparately, is a karaoke section, should you feel like a bit of a song after your meal.

And do have a look at the black horse with a light on its head. Seriously.


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