It was a tough job, but someone had to do it: Prior to the opening of Asian bistro Mizu, chefs Steve Shienfield and Dylan Benoit were tasked with travelling to Asia on a tasting tour, where they were obliged to sample the widest possible selection of the regional cuisine, before designing their own pan-Asian menu in Cayman.
Having sampled the real deal in the Orient, they realised nothing less would do for Mizu.
The forces behind one of Camana Bay’s newest restaurants have therefore gone to great lengths to source specialty items, such as specific types of noodles and wonton wrappers, along with ingredients the average diner has probably never heard of, like juzu juice and shiso leaves – all to ensure every dish tastes truly authentic.
Taking the best from across the Orient, Mizu’s menu features sushi, dim sum, Thai curries and soups, Vietnamese spring rolls, rice and noodle dishes. Shienfield and Benoit are passionate about food, and clearly want to share that passion with their customers.
Diners can therefore watch the sushi chefs preparing their sashimi, nigiri and maki at the bar at the far end of the dining room and every dish is striking to look at, as well as uniquely flavoured.
Almost every aspect of every dish that can be made in house, from scratch, is. Unlike other restaurants which buy their dim sum ready-made, for example, Mizu has one chef who is dedicated to creating each and every dumpling and all the fillings fresh each day.
When they were unable to source a char siu – Chinese barbecued pork – that they liked, they chose to prepare and barbecue their own.
The sake is aged in barrels on site and they can barely keep up with demand for the house-made lychee liqueur.
The authenticity doesn’t stop at the food either. The interior design is also genuinely Asian: Interior designers Kinney Chan and Associates from Hong Kong are responsible for the contemporary Asian decor, featuring dragon murals, wood installations and mirrored ceilings.
Among the customer favourites that we sampled were the dim sum – a selection of dumplings and buns stuffed with pork and seafood – and their Japanese counterparts, gyozas. This was followed by the tuna tartare, which is marinated to order – and not in advance – in soy sauce, sesame oil, shallots and ginger, so as to achieve just the right balance of flavours.
The tuna sourced for both the tartare and the sashimi is grade one yellowfin tuna – the highest grade available here. It’s firm-fleshed, ruby red in colour, and intensely flavoured.
Aromatic, highly spiced shrimp, Mongolian beef that was so tender it literally fell apart, and maki rolls that were deep fried, served hot, and smothered in Japanese mayonnaise, were all brought out one after the other, each surprising the palate in different ways. While they maintain the highest of standards with the food they serve, the chefs also want to have fun with it. Asian food lends itself well to sharing, they explain, and with such a wide selection of dishes and flavours to choose from, it would be hard to limit oneself to just one dish anyway. And if you’re going to eat authentic Asian cuisine, you might as well order and eat the way they do in Asia.
Unlike other restaurants which buy in their dim sum ready-made, for example, Mizu has one chef who is dedicated to creating each and every dumpling and all the fillings fresh each day.