Dining With Denise Neil

Review: Mizu fare perfectly acceptable for all-you-can eat deal

A big plate of sushi was served as part of the all-you-can-eat deal at the new Mizu Sushi.
A big plate of sushi was served as part of the all-you-can-eat deal at the new Mizu Sushi. The Wichita Eagle

All-you-can-eat sushi restaurants, where customers can pay one price and just keep ordering from the menu until they’re satisfied, are apparently a thing in big cities.

In Wichita, diners are more than familiar with buffets. But all you can eat from a menu? That’s a whole new exciting – yet somewhat confusing – proposition.

Mizu Sushi, which opened in August in the former Sake space at 2140 W. 21st St., is offering such a deal, which seems ideal for dining on sushi. It allows people to sample lots of different things without running up the bill, something that’s easy to do when fresh fish is involved.

We recently gave the all-you-can-eat deal a try at dinner, and we were wowed by the giant plate of sushi we were able to get for a decent price. But the quality and portion sizes at Mizu are adjusted to keep things working in the restaurant’s favor. Don’t go expecting to have a Kanai-caliber experience.

It is, however, a bit unnerving to try the deal for the first time. Your server will inform you that before you can order a second round, you must finish what you ordered the first round. Suddenly, you’ll feel compelled to finish things you didn’t like or find a way to hide them in your napkin. You’ll admonish yourself for not ordering more on the first round but then wonder what would happen if you left much of it behind. You’ll wonder whether the waitress who keeps eying your plate has decided you’ve been too wasteful or whether she’s simply checking to see whether you’re ready for more food.

Despite experiencing all of these neurotic fears, nothing uncomfortable actually occurred – except perhaps the pressured overeating – and I left planning my next visit.

▪ On the menu: Diners have two options at Mizu. They can either order from the menu as they would at any other restaurant or they can take advantage of the all-you-can-eat deal. It costs $12.99 for lunch, which lasts from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, or $19.99 for dinner, served 3 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 3 to 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The $19.99 price also applies from noon to 9:30 p.m. on Sundays. (Children are $3.99 for ages 3-6 for lunch, $5.99 for dinner and on Sundays. Ages 7-11 are $6.99 for lunch, $8.99 for dinner and on Sundays.)

The all-you-can-eat menu is a slightly abbreviated version of the regular menu and offers soups; salads; appetizers such as dumplings, spring rolls and crab Rangoon; as well as sushi, sushi rolls and rice and noodle dishes.

▪ Don’t-miss dishes: I took my husband and my daughters, ages 6 and 11, on my visit, and we all ordered the all-you-can-eat deal. We were presented with an 8-by-11 sheet of paper listing the options and were instructed to mark what we wanted. We did it up on the first round, ordering a salad, three appetizers (dumplings, edamame and shrimp and vegetable tempura), three pieces of sushi served on a bed of rice, five rolls and an order of teriyaki chicken.

Don’t judge our gluttony. I knew from a previous visit that the all-you-can-eat serving sizes were typically smaller than average. Our order of gyoza, for example, included four modestly stuffed dumplings, and our tempura included two pieces of fried shrimp with four bites of fried vegetables. The sushi – cuts of raw fish on a bed of rice – were sliced thin and came one to an order. A chef’s special roll has eight modestly sized pieces, and a classic roll has six. The teriyaki chicken was just a few thin bites of chicken, and the fried rice was a scoop served on a plate.

And this is all just fine. When you can get all you want, you don’t want everything to be huge. That would be counterproductive.

The appetizers came first, and I was most impressed by the dumplings, which, despite their smaller size, were full of a savory ginger flavor. The tempura was OK, though the shrimp was a little mealy and the batter more crumbly than light and fluffy, as I’d prefer. I love a little green salad with ginger dressing at Asian restaurants, but Mizu’s salad was overdressed, and the too-sweet dressing was mostly mayo.

We were wowed, though, when the waitress delivered our massive plate of sushi, which was glowing with bright tuna pink, mango yellow and avocado green. Most notable, as I’ve mentioned, is that the fish is cut extra thin, and this trend continued on top of the rainbow roll. But the flavors were on. I loved the presentation of the two rolls we ordered that had shrimp tempura inside: the McConnell, made with shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, salmon and avocado, and the Mango Shrimp, topped with mango and avocado. Both came with six traditionally rolled pieces along with two pieces that featured the toppings wrapped around an intact piece of shrimp tempura. These were fun to eat and allowed the crunchy shrimp to remain the predominant texture. One minor complaint: My daughter and I really disliked the sticky, thick, sweet mayonnaise sauce the chef used to garnish one of our rolls, and we had to wipe it off before we could continue.

We apparently managed to persuade our waitress that we’d finished enough of our food to warrant a second round, and we ordered some teriyaki steak – a small but tasty portion that was somehow medium rare despite its thinness – and some fried ice cream for the girls. Everyone left happy.

▪ Ambience: The restaurant is unchanged from its time as Sake. It’s not fancy but is comfortable with dim lighting, a mix of booths and traditional tables and some decorative bamboo separating the dining area from the sushi bar.

▪ Price range: I listed the all-you-can-eat prices above. If you order from the menu, appetizers range from $3.50 to $9.95. Rolls are $3.95 to $10.95. Rice and noodle dishes, which include hibachi-style meals, yaki soba and fried rice, are $10.95 to $15.95.

▪ Service: Our food arrived quickly, and everyone was friendly.

If you would like to nominate a restaurant to be reviewed, call 316-268-6327.

Denise Neil: 316-268-6327, @deniseneil

Mizu Sushi

and a half stars out of four

Where: 2140 W. 21st St.; 316-260-9996

Type of food: Sushi, noodle dishes

Alcohol: Full bar

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, noon-9:30 p.m. Sundays

Website: www.mizusushiwichita.com

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