Several things struck me as my friend and I walked into Mizu Izakaya: the varied, stylish seating options (we headed straight for pillow-backed benches at a corner window table), the modern izakaya aesthetic, very friendly servers, and most of all, the plethora of menus there are to read. We were given at least four, detailing everything from the happy hour and weeknight drink specials to the brunch cocktails, an extensive sake list, and finally, the izakaya and sushi menus. As Mizu first-timers, it was a lot to take in, but the path forward quickly became clear: Order sake and a dish (or two) from each of the menu categories, which range from “binchotan” (Japanese charcoal-grilled dishes) to “agemono” (fried items) to the sushi and raw bars.
One of the standouts was the “cream pork kimchee,” labeled as a starter. Cream with kimchi? It sounded just odd enough to warrant ordering. Owner Hong Lee says that it’s a twist on an izakaya dish he tasted recently in Tokyo: well-salted cabbage and pork belly with cream. He told his Mizu chefs about it, and they decided to reproduce it using the small-batch kimchi that they make in-house. “When you stir-fry kimchi, the flavor and texture change completely,” he explained, “but we think it came out really well.”
So do we. Served hot, the dairy tweak smoothed out the kimchi in a most delicious way, melding its punchy, salty, acidic kick with the tender shreds of pork belly and fresh scallion garnish. It was addictive, and could only have been improved by a side of rice to soak up every last drop of the creamy, tangy sauce.
1560 Boulder Street, 720-372-7100
—Photo by Rachel Adams