On the second day of business, Mizu's chef Lakhan Jethani tells us not to order the duck yakitori. “We're still finalising the menu, and I'm going to take the duck off it.” Our next choice of prawn korokke (croquette) with wasabi Kewpie is not available; it's one of three dishes that have sold out. Mizu's first few days have been unexpectedly busy.
Instead, Jethani offers us an off-the-menu hamachi sashimi that they're testing. Rich, clean slices of raw fish compete with and complement a pool of smoky garam masala-laced ponzu. It's a bold mix. If it wasn't as delicious, we'd call it sacrilegious. What is this saucery?
Mizu, the newest reason to revisit the recently revived ghost mall Atria, serves up Japanese food prepared using Japanese technique, with a strangely satisfying layer of familiar Indian flavours. So liver yakitori comes with a fragrant thhecha of Bhavnagri mirchi. Bhavnagri mirchi becomes yakitori, stuffed with melting cheese, and the meat in springy pork gyoza is marinated in Naga chillies. It does not feel like a mishmash or gimmicky, because there is depth and cleanliness in the combinations, and it's evident that much testing and thought has been put into each dish. In a few days there will be sake and shoyu at the bar and in cocktails so there is more fun to be had.
Yuzu kasundi mayo and perky cubes of pickled beetroot don't distract from the glossy, juicy insides of a cloud-like chicken karaage bao. This tempura contains probably the most perfectly cooked chicken we have had in a while. This kitchen has chops. A big bowl of lobster donburi in spicy miso with lotus root chips probably contains a quarter pound of meat. It's distinctly firm and sweet, and there is enough to have some of it by itself before stirring up the bowl. My dining companion describes it as “dildaar”, but we're still competing for the last few bites.
When the vegetarian ramen arrives, our first thought is: Izumi has spoiled us. There's nothing really wrong with this bowl, with its perfectly marinated soft egg, sesame crusted pillows of tofu, a swirl of freshly hand-pulled noodles, a pile of edamame with bite. The broth is light and aromatic, but the memory of Izumi's vegetarian broth does not leave our brain. The noodles shine however, both here and in the cold egg noodle salad, slicked with that glorious head-filling partnership of sesame and miso.
We've been asked to leave room for dessert. Indeed, this is a Japanese restaurant with two pages of dessert. The kabocha is what they're pushing most, but to us the squash, citrus, and pecan are overshadowed by an unbalanced excessive smokiness. Try instead a scoop of enlivening strawberry shiso sorbet for the table; it's that intense. But here is what's extra refreshing, in case, dear reader, you hadn't noticed already: a spicy California roll doesn't come to mind once; Mizu is a Japanese restaurant with no sushi.
Getting there: Ground Floor, Atria Mall, Worli, call 022 24913388. A meal for two with a drink each is approximately Rs 6,000. Full bar available soon.
bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.
Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in NYC, lives in Mumbai and writes mostly about food and travel for many a publication. She’s a contributing editor at Vogue magazine, and her words have also been found in Conde Nast Traveller, Mint Lounge, Scroll.in, The Hindu, Saveur, The Guardian, and Travel + Leisure, among others. She's crazy about obscure ingredients, and she always knows where to go back for seconds. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @roshnibajaj.
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