I have Anna Bligh and Campbell Newman to thank for discovering this place. Or more specifically Brisbane Transport’s 199 bus. It took four years of living in the city centre and the introduction of the GoCard system for me to contemplate that taking a bus to dinner might have its advantages. This route runs from the Teneriffe Ferry through New Farm, Fortitude Valley, CBD, West End, Highgate Hill and Fairfield, passing at least 50 restaurants and cafes along the way. As I wouldn’t think of dining without drinking or drinking and driving, this has been a boon for my desire to try more Brisbane restaurants more often.
We visited Mizu by chance on a walk to Teneriffe. We’d spotted it from the 199 bus, busy on a Tuesday night. The atmosphere here is relaxed and unpretentious with welcoming and competent older Japanese staff looking after the floor. There’s none of the stuffy formality you’ll find at some Japanese restaurants, no tatami mats and no kimonos. Mizu is all about enjoying Japanese food informed by local ingredients and climate in a neighbourhood restaurant setting.
The dining area is simple with polished concrete floors, unclothed tables and seating spilling from inside to a covered outdoor area. Look above the counter and you’ll see sake bottles labelled with the names of regular patrons, in the best Iza kaya tradition. The selection here effortlessly trumps Brisbane Japanese fine dining venues and so does the food. (Perhaps overtaken in the last few days by the just-opened Sake at Eagle Street Pier).
We snacked on a bowl of edamame as big as your head and enjoyed a couple of Sapporo beers with our entrees. Distinct courses are a Western concept, but the staff at Mizu happily accommodate our habit for entrees and mains. The sashimi is presented with artistry showcasing a selection of tuna, salmon, kingfish, scallop, prawn, shredded daikon and expertly prepared wasabi. The fish is fresh and alive with flavour and colour. The ‘mizupaccio’ is a Mizu’s own interpretation of carpaccio and is prepared using sashimi quality fish, in this case meaty hiramasa kingfish, sliced thinly to showcase its texture and finished with grapeseed oil, shiso flakes and lemon. The simple but beautiful rough glazed Japanese pottery further enhances our entrees. The food is complemented by the quiet and friendly service and beautiful Japanese woodcuts. A light breeze from the river and another Sapporo – I could stay here all summer.
There’s enough interest in the mains offered at Mizu to have you returning regularly with sushi and sashimi, substantial salads, two course bento boxes, agemono and yakimono. Agemono courses at Japanese restaurants are often greasy Gaijin pleasers, and whilst tonkatsu, tempura and kara-age all feature here, the quality of the ingredients and cooking elevate them to a higher plane. The simply described ‘prawn and mango’ perfectly sums up Mizu -fresh local sweet prawns cooking in light, crisp tempura batter, expertly seasoned with saikyo miso sauce arranged in a salad of mizuna and ripe mango slices with a judicious slick of Mizu’s own dressing. Steamed koshihikari rice, real miso and tsukemono pickles complement the menu.
Mizu also offers what may be Brisbane’s only traditional Japanese breakfast. Okonomiyaki are Japanese style pancakes which are a favourite for many Aussies who’ve visited Japan and Mizu version doesn’t disappoint. Loco moco is the Mizu breakfast ‘man meal’ with rough minced wagyu steak, fried egg, sukiyaki sauce, sesame, steamed rice and misu. The breakfast bento box is a great way to sample the traditional Japanese breakfast constituents with grilled miso marinated black cod, agemono octopus, perfect kare-age chicken with sea salt flakes, sunomono and Japanese pickles, miso and rice. Quality sencha and genmai-cha green teas are served in traditional Japanese teapots and small cups. Matcha, a sort of green tea latte, hort blacks, cappuccino and flat white are available too.
Mizu further commends itself to regular visits by welcoming BYO wine at a very reasonable $4 a head corkage. I reckon you could have alot of fun matching wine with this menu.
After trading successfully for four years and building up great regular patronage, Mizu doesn’t need your support. But you’d be mad to miss out on its authentic but unpretentious Japanese food.
Mizu Japanese Eats
2 Macquarie Street
07 3254 0488
Lunch and dinner 7 days a week
Breakfast Saturday and Sunday from 8am – 11am
Fully licensed and BYO Wine