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YUM! YUM! Mizuki Japan noodles around with Asian fusion

Whatever the reason, there’s something wildly soothing about Asian comfort food on a Sunday evening.

HIBACHI TIME: Chicken hibachi from Mizuki Japan hits the spot. Photo by Shannon Rae Gentry

Hands up if you look forward to spring rolls on Sunday nights!

Maybe it’s the bourbon-on-the-front-porch-induced hangover. Maybe it’s the charcoal-colored sky and impending rainstorm. Maybe it’s just about to be Monday again, and plans for partaking in a Netflix-a-thon do not involve lifting a spatula. Whatever the reason, there’s something wildly soothing about Asian comfort food on a Sunday evening.

HIBACHI TIME: Chicken hibachi from Mizuki Japan hits the spot. Photo by Shannon Rae Gentry

HIBACHI TIME: Chicken hibachi from Mizuki Japan hits the spot. Photo by Shannon Rae Gentry

Greasy Chinese delivery is one thing (and not difficult to stumble upon in a college town), but quality Asian fusion from a clean, friendly establishment is another. Folks may have driven by the Target on New Centre Drive in the past year or so and noticed the up-and-coming shopping center across the street. The once-quiet strip mall has been blossoming with novel eateries—like Italian newcomer Agostino’s and brew-and-‘cue haven Skytown (sister restaurant to downtown’s Beer Barrio). When Mizuki Japan popped up smack dab between the two, I began contemplating its effect on longtime sushi favorite Genki restaurant, practically adjacent to the eatery.

Here’s the word: Though Genki also is fairly small in size, it’s more of a sit-down dining room and specializes in hand rolls and homemade sake. Mizuki’s menu goes down a range of Asian avenues. Think: American-Chinese classics, bento boxes and poke bowls. Muzuki is immaculately clean, has minimal décor, and only offers several four-tops for dining in and thus presenting itself as a takeout spot. I called in a pretty hefty order, was told 15 minutes, and it was ready in exactly 15 minutes. Tidy, fast, and friendly from start to finish: What more could I want?

Oh yeah, the food. Well, it is the bomb.

Why, yes, I will have all of the fried things, thank you.

My husband and I got home and ripped into our brown paper bags. First up, the spring rolls. The handhelds had a traditional thin rice wrapper and were full of crunchy veggies. No sticky duck sauce packets here! Mizuki accompanies their rolls with a tangy orange dipper that paired perfectly with our crispy cylinders.

Next on deck: crab rangoons. Each puffy wonton shell was stuffed with velvety cream cheese, crab and scallions. On the side, a vibrant red sweet-and-sour sauce that cut through the fat of the cream cheese and made each bite more addictive than the next. Neither appetizer was mind-blowingly out of the ordinary, but both just happened to be light, not excessively greasy, and partnered with delightfully bright, sticky condiments that tasted far better than something sitting in a plastic package for who knows how long.

In an attempt to try something from every path of the menu, we split a basic sushi roll. The spicy tuna and avocado was simple yet fresh in all the right ways. The rice was tender, and the tuna melted in my mouth. For just under $5, the quality was a steal.

I also went for the house salad with ginger dressing (which a few folks raved about online). It was a mixture of crunchy greens, a few chopped tomatoes and a zippy, spiced-up dressing. It was good, just not overly memorable from others I’ve had at similar places. Although they don’t offer a vast assortment of larger specialty rolls, with a price of about $10 per roll (where most places charge $12 to $15) Mizuki has the right mindset. They even offer poke bowls (still a trendy, new concept around here) with tuna or salmon, avocado, veggies, rice, and sauce for $8.

As far as the main entrees go, I’m not embarrassed to say my husband and I literally ate this meal three times. Granted, we had just arrived home from a weekend away and had nothing in the fridge other than beer. Mizuki‘s takeout containers joined us for dinner, lunch and one more dinner. Especially compared to a traditional Chinese hole-in-the-wall, the General Tsaos went above and beyond. Not only was the protein portion generous (an entire container of chicken on top of broccoli with the rice on the side), but each morsel was unexpectedly moist and not overly fried or coated in sweet, aromatic sauce. There was no real heat to the dish—just watch out for those sneaky little Szechuan peppers.

Other than really well-prepared pad Thai, yakisoba is my favorite Sunday noodle, comfort-on-on-the-couch food. Everyone makes it a bit different, but the key is the oyster sauce-based mixture that coats the noodles. We opted for one steak yakisoba, as well as hibachi chicken (also with noodles). Both were tangled with scallions and Napa cabbage, so when the hibachi and yakisoba intertwined, it was tough to differentiate between the two.

The hibachi came with the addition of zucchini and broccoli, and just like the veggies in the rest of the entrees, they were tender-crisp and not overcooked. The white (a.k.a. yum yum) sauce was garlicky and delicious as always, but a touch thicker and creamier than what I’ve sampled elsewhere. The noodles in both were thicker lo-mein style, with a heartier chew. I may be alone on this, but my favorite part of yum yum sauce is cutting it with Japanese ginger sauce (a deeper brown, more textured blend made of soy, onion, ginger, citrus, and vinegar). Unfortunately, Mizuki’s ginger sauce is merely their ginger salad dressing. That being said, I hit the noodles with a few splashes of soy to bring the umami flavors together. Overall, the sautéed chicken and steak in both the hibachi and yakisoba were juicy and seasoned well.

I’m often weary of restaurants cramming too many cuisines onto one menu, but if the ingredients are fresh, the flavors are balanced, and the prices are right, well, you do you, boo. Mizuki goes a step above all-around, and Wilmington is all-aboard.

DETAILS:
Mizuki Japan
4712 New Centre Dr., #101
(910) 769-0331
Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Sun., 12 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
facebook.com/pg/Mizuki-Japan-Restaurant

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, 910tix.com. Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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