Say, there’s this button. When someone tells me to not push the button, I’d fidget for a while and put up a fight with temptation. But the fight will be short, and I will slowly inch my way towards the button, and then slam it.
That button would be Mizuki – the uber-ginomo-super-star ramen joint that was suppose to intensify the competition in the area. It was suppose to seat a hundred people, and the ramen was produced by some celebrity noodle master that all the foodies worshipped. Everybody believed the hype and couldn’t wait for the place to open.
Mizuki was slated to open in September of 2009, but the opening kept getting pushed back, and employment ads cycled through local Japanese newspapers endlessly. That’s never a good thing, and I started to doubt the whole concept.
When Mizuki finally opened, the negative reviews kept pouring into the internet, from Yelpers and bloggers alike. Most of the negative reviews stated that the noodles fell flat, and that the prices were ridiculous. I’d hear bad things about Mizuki from my customers during sales runs. One prominent, respectable blogger even emailed me to tell me that Mizuki was no good.
So I avoided Mizuki like the plague. Until one of my friends told me, EFF the bloggers, Mizuki’s Tonkotsu is pretty good. This friend of ours, we have similar palates and we eat out together all the time. So I decided to put a little faith in him and visited the restaurant on a Thursday night.
What Yelp and blogs can do to a restaurant is scary. 7 PM on a Thursday night, while the CPK and Ruth Chris’s in the same shopping center was packed to the gills, Mizuki was dead empty. Just a few regulars, it seemed; a Japanese salaryman enjoying his draft beer, an older couple watching the World Cup broadcast on the TV while slurping their orders, and that was it.
Mizuki’s interior is very pretty and slick, dark with spot lights, modern but dotted with traditional elements – this is not the kind of ramen joint that you’ll stumble into after a night of drunken adventures. We were given a beautiful leather bound menu and after perusing their long menu, we placed our orders.
We started our dinner with some draft beer (3.75) and some fried rice. The small Mizuki fried rice (3.5) comes in a soup mug, and is full of shredded charsiu pork and vegetable sprinkles. It’s good, but a little heavy.
Don ordered the basic Tonkotsu Ramen (8.75), which comes in a very pretty bowl. The noodles are thin and straight, but with a firm bite to it. The soup is a bit on the salty side and mildly rich. The charsiu is okay, nothing stellar – overall, it’s an enjoyable bowl of ramen.
I had the Negi Ramen (12.75), to which I can’t understand how a bowl of basic ramen with extra scallions can jump up in price so drastically. Those onions better be laced with gold or something. But then again, they also charge almost 5 bucks for 2 extra slices of charsiu. The noodles are thick, unlike the Tonkotsu, and had very scant amounts of shredded charsiu in it. The soup is very light on oil and rich on flavor, which I appreciate in shoyu ramen. It’s good, but for the price, very meh.
To finish the meal, we had an order of the panna cotta (5.50). It’s good, but a bit too soft for my taste.
Ramen is such a hairy subject for foodies – no one can really agree on the “best” bowl because everybody has different preferences. Mizuki deals well with this, by making an enjoyable bowl to fit most palates – it’s just the price that makes the experience go down the shitter.
Would I come back? Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe, if I was drunk enough to shell out so many bones for noodle soup. After all, Mizuki is one of the few that are open till midnight.
But then again, there are SO many options in the area when it comes to ramen. So many. And while most have their distinct charm (Kohryu has the best runny eggs, Kairakutei is the best bang for your buck, and Mentatsu’s mapo tofu ramen will jolt any drunk back into sobriety), Mizuki has none.
Mizuki Japanese Cuisine & Noodles
2981 Michelson Dr. Ste. E (next to Sports Chalet)