LOHI — We found ourselves wandering the city in search of a place to eat. The Highlands hotspots along 32nd and Tejon were so busy we walked down past Little Man and were drawn into the hip new Mizu Sushi & Izakaya Bar for their soft opening. While their soft opening means we ate from a slight menu, we found ourselves very pleased with the flavors and the exciting vibe.
The corner location across from Lola’s on Boulder St. has gone through several variations in the past few years. The new interior features a sassy mural of an alluring Japanese maiden tucked into a warm brick wall surrounded by cargo bundles with a rope lattice ceiling. Industrial bulbs hang like shipyard chandeliers. Metal, wood, and ropes mix into a warm hideaway feeling. There are several larger spaces for large groups as wells window seats for more private dining. A drinking bar provides some seating as does a Sushi bar where we sat and watched the chefs prepare the rolls and sashimi.
When presented with the menu, our waitress explained that the concept of Mizu is an Izakaya, a Japanese version of a pub or after work snack and drinking place. “It’s a tapas-like experience,” she explained. Small plates to share while drinking from the whiskey and sake collection. The drinks had amusing names: Duel to the Death, Drunken Master II, The Grandmaster, Five Deadly Venoms, and Come Drink with Me. The cocktails are $ 5 and the hot sake, beer, and wine is $ 4.
Although the menu was small, the dishes we tried were delicious. We started out with the Jalapeño Sashimi, $ 13. The thinly sliced Shima Aji and Hamachi were drizzled with feisty pieces of minced peppers and fresh cut herbs from the sushi counter garden boxes. It was delicious.
Next, up we tried the Honey Eggplant, $ 5. I’m not a big fan of sweet dishes, but this was fantastic. The eggplant was softly cooked into a comfort dish loaded with complex sweet and spicy flavors due to the peppers and sweet miso glaze.
From the sushi rolls section, we tried the Spicy Tuna, $ 6. These were our least favorite of the dishes we tried. The tuna was minced into a coarse puree and the rice was very sticky as well. The fish tasted good, but we found the overall impact to be too mushed up for our liking.
The Pork Belly Steamed Buns, $ 7 with their 24-hour braised pork belly with basil slaw had the mildest taste of all of the dishes. These satisfied our hunger with their fluffy buns and the meat and slaw that filled them. We found ourselves dipping them in the remainder of the eggplant dish. A side of some honey mustard would have been nice.
The service was good but a bit hectic. As a soft opening, the processes were being worked out. A few times a server approached us asking if we were expecting the dish in her hand. As we sat at the sushi bar, we commented that the lighting didn’t seem so good for the guys with the sharp knives. Not a moment later, the sushi chef offered us a delicious, rich scallop dish that he had made by mistake. As we enjoyed his error, he and the other sushi chefs were pointing at the lights as the culprits of the error.
Overall, we really enjoyed the meal we ate. The serving sizes were perfect for what we needed. We hear they are rolling out more menu items as their soft opening continues. This eatery has a very fun vibe and the food was quite good. It was both comfortable and hip. Although not available for a while, the wrap around porch will also be a fun place to sit when the weather warms up. For now, the cozy warmth of the rustic and modern interior along with rich and comforting foods make Mizo definitely worth a visit.
1560 Boulder St. | Denver, CO 80211
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