If youíve never been to an underground restaurant filled with dim lights, and full of intimate booth dining areas; then itís time for you to take a walk down George street and find yourself walking down the stairs into the entrance of Mizuya Japanese Restaurant.
Restaurants and Karaoke Bars aren't complete without a few drinks. Samples of a few non-alcoholic drinks here at Mizuya.
Dining here at Mizuya is like no other. For starters, Mizuya is well-known for their restaurant, bar and karaoke ambience, which means there are two different scenes and atmospheres you can experience. Take the entrance on the left and youíll find yourself inside a private room, fitted with a television mounted on the wall - along with a few microphones. The atmosphere is quite modern and stylish, with a long rectangular table in the centre of the room with a couple of stools to set the mood for a night of group karaoke while still dining and enjoying the dishes Mizuya has to offer. For those who are after the more traditional approach to sitting and dining, the right entrance will take you to separate booths with walls that are of a light, tanned wooden colour.
There is one aspect of Mizuya that takes ordering food to a whole new level. At each dining booth and karaoke room, touch screen menus are fitted on the wall. There are no menu books to flick through, and there is no need to call the waiter when youíre ready to place your order. All you simply do is flick through the touch screen; press and confirm the food you want, and just sit and wait for your food to arrive to your table. This means you can order your dishes as you go along without worrying about whether youíve ordered too much or too little.
Takoyaki - Japanese octopus and potato dumplings.
When I visit a Japanese restaurant, I like to sample a range of popular traditional or modern Japanese dishes, even if this means my pronunciation is not the best.
Side dishes are always popular, and are a good way to start the evening. Takoyaki, or octopus dumpling balls as some may know them as - was one of the first side dishes to hit the table. It was beautifully golden brown and crispy on the outside, and soft and fluffy on the inside with a slight tangy flavour. Takoyaki is usually brushed with a Takoyaki sauce and topped with mayonnaise. Here, the Takoyaki is topped with dried bonito flakes and a small side of green, mixed leaf salad.
A small, side dish of Okonomiyaki - savoury Japanese pancake.
Okonomiyaki is Japanís savoury pancake, and though traditionally grilled on a large hot plate, Mizuya served this pancake on a mini hot plate - making it the perfect size for another side dish. This Okonomiyaki was simple in its flavours, showcasing the more traditional, basic formation of the savoury pancake, mostly made with cabbage. It had a delicious, delicate, soft texture; and was topped with a generous amount of a sweet sauce, together with some mayonnaise and bonito flakes.
Spicy Chicken Karaage (pronounced as KAH - RAH - GEH).
You canít go wrong with crispy chicken, and here at Mizuya they have what they call the Spicy Chicken Karaage. These pieces of filleted chicken are cooked to a beautiful, crunchy, golden exterior. There is a non-spicy option, yet the mild chilli added to the chicken gives it just a bit of heat and kick that will have you licking your lips and reaching for more.
Pork Gyoza - pan fried dumplings. Delicious and succulent with soy dipping sauce.
Of course dumplings are always a must when eating out at Japanese restaurant, and what a better dumpling to savour than a plate of Gyoza. These crescent shaped dumplings are filled with pork, and are pan-fried to give a slightly crisp, yet soft dumpling texture. The Gyoza has enough flavour on its own. Furthermore, dipping it into the soy sauce that accompanies the dumplings will definitely give it that extra boost of flavour.
Beef Sukiyaki Hot Pot. In goes the vegetables.
Finally, we finished up with the side dishes and decided on a proper main dish. The Beef Sukiyaki Hot Pot has that beautiful balance of sweet, salty, soy and tang all in the one broth. The hot pot is served on top of a hot gas burner, allowing you to cook your own meat and vegetables yourself. Once the Sukiyaki broth begins to heat up, add in your beef and array of vegetables including sliced carrots, cabbage and Japanese mushrooms. Itís an exciting experience to cook your own soup at your own table, and thanks to the gas burner, your hot pot will stay hot for as long as you want it to.
Cook it yourself - in goes the beef.
Thereís definitely something more modern and stylish about eating at Mizuya. Itís more intimate and private in its ambience. While the touch screens might be an exciting innovation that makes service faster and convenient, there is that feeling of a lack of human interaction with the waiters that many of us appreciate when we dine out at a new restaurant. Nevertheless, whether youíre there for the first time for karaoke or traditional dining, youíll find yourself returning to get a sense of what it will be like to enter through the other side of Mizuya.
Where: Mizuya Japanese Restaurant and Karaoke, Basement 614 George Street, Sydney NSW.
Why: Karaoke and eating is something fun and different. The ambience throughout Mizuya, however is very modern and stylish, and the booths mean you can enjoy eating with your group without any real distractions from the table next to you. The service is also quite fast.
Cost: Moderately priced. Sides range from $5 - $10. Mains range from $15 onwards.
When: Mon - Sun, open from 11:30am until late. Dinnertime is very lively, however is quite busy and without a reservation, you may need to wait a while for a table.
Good for kids: The atmosphere might not be well-suited for children, although the food is good for kids.
Take away: Not sure, although if you order as you go along, you might not need to worry about take away.