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Monday, August 16, 2010

Mizuya, Sydney

Kushiage? It means "deep-fried on a stick". On the touch-screen menu at Mizuya, the kushiage section has helpful "before" and "after" shots so you can see the bright green asparagus and the glossy quail eggs quivering in their naked form, before they are crumbed and deep-fried to a Bondi Beach golden tan.

Mizuya is all about instant gratification, the pictorial touch screen menus easily navigable and translated into English, Japanese, Chinese and Korean. Orders are always double-checked with a confirmation button, and once sent, the food magically arrives within minutes. It's the kind of set-up that works particularly well with groups, the snack-sized portions designed to be drunk with beer or alcohol, found in Japanese izakaya or taverns.

Ramune Japanese lemonade $4.20

The steps down to Mizuya reveal a greater space than you'd first imagine, a cavernous area that is split up into booth seating and private rooms, seating up to 600 people in total. The booths are like tall wooden stalls, offering bench seating and privacy - the 24 private rooms usually need to be booked in advance (particularly on weekends) and offer the additional attraction of karaoke.

Jessie Chau, co-owner, says she and her husband realised that whilst karaoke was popular, the food menu was always lacklustre - the marriage of karaoke and the speed and flexibility of touch-screen menus seemed ideal.

Pisces cocktail $5.80
Homemade passionfruit syrup mixed with Calpico water

The drinks menu offers a range of beers, wine and cocktails as well as non-alcoholic options, like Calpis (a flavoured Yakult-like drink), Japanese lemonade, green tea and mocktails.

Lotus root chips $4.80

Tonight I'm dining with Jessie, her PR agent and a couple of other guests. We start with snacks in the booth area - a platter of lotus root chips is a little more chewy than crunchy but chilli garlic edamame is salty, sweet and deliciously addictive.

Chilli garlic edamame $4.80

Mizuya braised duck breast on crispy wontons (Chef's special)

The head chef in the kitchen comes from a fine dining background, Jessie explains, and advance group bookings can include specially made dishes. We're each served a trio of canapes, each presented on a deep-fried gow gee skin.

Roast duck breast is plump and tender, served with a slick of hoisin and fine shreds of cucumber and a dice of green shallot.

Spicy soft shell crab on crispy wontons (Chef's special)

Spicy soft shell crab is fried-on-fried action, a tangle of lightly battered crustacean with chilli sauce.

Creamy miso cheese scallop on crispy wontons (Chef's special)

The creamy miso cheese scallop is succulent, although its delicate flavour is a little overwhelmed by the miso and the large expanse of deep-fried cracker.

Ox tongue kushiyaki $5.80 (2 skewers)

We adjourn to a private room next, a giant video screen playing non-stop Korean music clips which we put on mute. We order through the touch screen menu, and our food arrives against a backdrop of synchronised pop group moves.

Kushiyaki means "food on a stick cooked over an open flame". The ox tongue has always been one of my favourites, and whilst the meat is a touch bouncy, the caramelisation adds a hint of sweetness.

Spider roll $13.80

A menacing-looking crab leg pokes out from the spider roll, a sushi roll filled with soft shell crab and snow pea sprouts and dusted with chilli powder.

BBQ tuna cheek $12.80

The offer of tuna cheek is too good to resist and I order this one too. I'm surprised by its fleshiness, the substantial chunks of meat cooked in a sweet and almost sticky soy sauce.

Grilled ox tongue $12.80 (2 serves pictured)

"If you like ox tongue, you must order it grilled", says Jessie. I follow her instructions and am glad I did. The grilled ox tongue is a thicker cut than the kushiyaki, enabling greater tenderness. A garnish of garlic chips goes well with the strong flavour of the ox tongue, and a side salad of lettuce and tomato offers some palate-cleansing relief.

Assorted sashimi $12.80

Assorted sashimi is a trio of kingfish, tuna and salmon, the slices are firm and fresh and sliced well.

Seared tuna $12.00

The presentation of the seared tuna is exquisite, petite scrolls that melt in the mouth, with a subtle crunch of black sesame seeds.

Camembert cheese kushiage $4.80 (2 skewers)

I only have to mention the words "deep-fried cheese" before the Iceman is leaning forward to press "order" on the screen. Camembert cheese kushiage is everything you could hope for, a panko crumb shell holding back a triangular wedge of deep-fried runny Camembert cheese.

Cheese potato mochi $5.80

Starch lovers will rejoice in the cheese potato mochi, deep-fried glutinous discs that taste like the love child between mashed potato and a glutinous rice dumpling. Filled with cheese. The skin on the outside is satisfyingly tacky too.

Tofu and seaweed salad $6.80

The gluttony of deep-fried food calls for some counterbalance with tofu. The tofu here is all home made on the premises, and whilst I find the tofu and seaweed salad a little too cold and messy with soy, I revel in the simpler home made tofu which comes with dried bonito shavings and fine strips of seaweed salad.

Mizuya home made tofu $5.80

Chicken and prawn chawanmushi $4.80

The elegant wobble of chicken and prawn chawanmushi is delicately sweet, its silky smoothness gliding effortlessly down the throat. Hidden in the soft steamed custard are morsels of chicken, prawn and fragrant mushroom.

Scampi sashimi $9.80 (2 serves pictured)

Scampi sashimi is a lively wakening to the tastebuds, although the creamy pearlescent flesh isn't as sweet as I'd secretly hoped.

Grilled miso onigiri $3.80

We try the grilled miso onigiri out of curiosity, a triangle of rice basted with a dab of miso and then grilled. Whilst pretty in appearance, it's not terribly exciting flavour-wise.

Japanese cheese cake $6.50

We share dessert, our stomachs distended with pain, but I am determined to plough on in the name of research. I'm impressed by the visual spectacular that is the Japanese cheesecake, an intricate design of chocolate squiggles filled with strawberry sauce and garnished with a strawberry fan, whirl of cream and a lattice scroll of toffee.

"Is this just for us, or is this dessert always served like this?" I ask with incredulity.

Jessie laughs and reassures me it's the same plating for everyone. I'm staggered that so much effort is put into a dessert that only costs $6.50.

The Japanese cheesecake is light and fluffy, airy mouthfuls that have only a faint taste of cream cheese. The toffee scroll is too much fun to eat too.

Green tea creme brulee $6.50

Green tea creme brulee is a generous portion, an oval ramekin holding a smooth green tea custard beneath a thin layer of toffee.

Geen tea shiratama sundae $4.50

Green tea shiratama sundae is incredible value too - a tall parfait glass holding a mountain of green tea soft serve ice cream, sweet red beans, a wafer and chewy balls made from glutinous rice.

We are full and spent. All we need is a touch screen button for someone to roll us home.

Grab Your Fork and Iceman dined as guests of Mizuya.

Mizuya Japanese Restaurant and Karaoke on Urbanspoon

Basement level, 614 George Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9266 0866

Opening hours:
Open 7 days 11.30 - midnight

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Japanese izakaya - Kasumi, Sydney
Japanese izakaya - Toriciya, Cammeray
Japanese izakaya -Wagaya

Japanese touch screens - Poporo
Japanese touch screens - Wagaya
19 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/16/2010 12:20:00 am


  • At 8/16/2010 2:37 am, Anonymous Vix said…

    Wow, this looks great. I am going to be back in Sydney in December and will definitely have to try it out; thanks for the tip!

    Only question, did you get bored of the crispy wontons? It seemed like a lot of the dishes were served on them.

  • At 8/16/2010 8:40 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Mmm the deep fried cheese and green tea sundae is always a must order when singing karaoke ;) Haha I think I will have to order that cheesecake next time just to see if they really do always serve it like that!

  • At 8/16/2010 9:14 am, Blogger Fouad @ The Food Blog said…

    When we went to Mizuya, I was quite amazed with the setup and the quality of the food. Mostly everything we had on the night was really good, and very very interesting (at least to my non-asian eyes). thanks for the review. I've been wanting to go back again, and now I can convince my co-workers that it's worth visiting :)

  • At 8/16/2010 9:21 am, Anonymous atv said…

    looks good! i must check out this place

  • At 8/16/2010 9:59 am, Anonymous Matthew (Masterchef) said…

    Kushiage reminds me of Febo in Amsterdam!

    Anything deep fried tastes great!


  • At 8/16/2010 10:47 am, Anonymous Eliza Jane said…

    You had me at Karaoke bar.
    And this slice of culinary heaven is in Sydney!
    Looks like a fun place to try some very interesting Japanese dishes.
    Wonderful pictures too. I'm drooling over deep fried cheese and ox tongue and i've only just had breakfast.

  • At 8/16/2010 11:02 am, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    Karaoke and nibbly-type food has been quite popular in Asia for some time so it makes sense to introduce it here.

    Haha, the soft-shell crab leg seems quite seductively posed to me! And I'm still regretting that they were out of camembert when we visited =p

  • At 8/16/2010 11:37 am, Anonymous Betty @ The Hungry Girl said…

    Oh I love Mizuya and their green tea soft serve (so cheap!!) I'm really craving Jap now :(

  • At 8/16/2010 2:21 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Oh, novelty novelty! Helen, I want to go somewhere like here on my still-somewhat-theoretical eating extravaganze with you! I love tofu and have never tried chawanmushi, am yearning for scampi sashimi and you know what? I'd even try the grilled ox tongue. That's how much you mean to me ;)

    OMG. Japanese cheesecake and a green tea and red bean sundae? That's it. Bugger the PhD, I have to move to Sydney.

  • At 8/16/2010 2:33 pm, Blogger Charlie in Bali said…

    touch screen ordering
    this is so far removed from the service style here in bali. excited to visit now when i'm over in spring.
    and if you come over to bali anytime soon, come and introduce yourself at 'sea circus' seminyak and we'll have to share a cocktail or two.

  • At 8/16/2010 9:12 pm, Blogger Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said…

    Mmm that cheese potato mochi has me hooked. Ohh I am feeling full already just sitting here! So much food! Ohh I think I will have to convince my friends to take up this option, the food looks too good to pass up, plus karaoke too!

  • At 8/16/2010 10:42 pm, Anonymous Phil said…

    deep fried cheese, no need to say anymore!

  • At 8/17/2010 2:59 pm, Blogger Anna said…

    Oh my, what a feast! I felt full by the time I reached the cheesecake photo!

  • At 8/17/2010 3:12 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My main problem with this palce is their cocktails are WEAKKKK!! but food wise its decent (some miss but mostly hits) and oohh so want some cheesecake right now

  • At 8/17/2010 8:41 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    Ooh looks great! Can't believe they finally have kushikatsu in Australia!!! (Kushikatsu = Osaka/Kyoto term for Kushiage). I went NUTS eating that stuff in Japan.

    Now all Mizuya needs to do is come to Melbourne and my life will be complete... Hehehe.

    Oxtongue looks great!

    xox Sarah

  • At 8/17/2010 9:36 pm, Blogger missklicious said…

    I'm curious now as to whether they always serve their cheesecake like that =p

  • At 8/20/2010 4:44 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    OMG. That green tea creme brulee and sundae just did it for me! YUMMOS!!

    Fantastic post as always! :)

  • At 8/27/2010 2:23 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Vix - We did have quite a few crispy wontons! lol. I much preferred the toppings :) Hope you get to this on your upcoming trip!

    Hi Stephcookie - Please do. The decorations were phenomenal given the price!

    Hi Fouad - Hurrah for compelling visual persuasion. lol

    Hi atv - I reckon you'd like it!

    Hi Matthew - Oh yeah baby. Deep fried are two magic words in my book!

    Hi Eliza Jane - Deep fried cheese is always a winner and I loved the ox tongue too.

    Hi mademoiselle delicieuse - haha, the soft shell crab is rather splayed. No more camembert? Mon dieu! Nothing like an excuse to go back!

    Hi Betty - The soft serves are crazy cheap!

    Hi Hannah - Never tried chawanmushi? I think you would really like it. And lol, I'm ready for an ox tongue fest whenever you are! Yes yes move to Sydney. It's much warmer here :)

    Hi Circus Charlie - Sonds great. Have never been to Bali :)

    Hi Angie - The cheese potato mochi is a winner for anyone who loves their starch. Guilty :)

    Hi Phil - Haha I hear ya!

  • At 8/27/2010 2:26 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi ladybird - It was definitely a feast. And everything arrived super quick.

    Hi FFichiban - The cocktails aren't particularly potent but hey, you don't need Dutch courage to get on the mike do you? lol

    Hi Sarah - Kushikatsu is my kind of awesome. I'm sure a similar venue will hit Melbourne soon. Can you send some MoVida love up this way in exchange?

    Hi missklicious - lol. Order it and find out! I'm dying to know too.

    Hi dbites - Thanks. Glad you enjoyed the post. Dessert is always my favourite part of the meal too.


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