On the busy corner of 16th and Boulder streets in LoHi sits Mizu Izakaya, a Japanese gastropub that has been around for a little over a year in a spot that has previously worn several hats. Over the past few years the building has welcomed diners for pizza at Cibo and pub grub at the British-style Churchill’s, neither of which found the right formula to keep the doors open. While running a successful restaurant here looked tricky, Mizu owner Hong Jian Lee seems to have figured it out, because his place is consistently packed.
The menu covers a lot of ground and is divided into small plates, fried foods, grilled dishes, ramen, large plates and sushi. Picking a path to create a meal is no small feat, especially while on a budget. To ease the decision-making process, I suggest two routes: sushi or ramen as your main.
But before focusing on food, start the night with a "Draft Bomb," a beer (Sapporo) and sake (the smooth, floral Momokawa Diamond) combo for $6. Even on a budget, a good meal should start with an appetizer; a vegetarian spring roll is a great way to prime your appetite. The fried shell is crackly and slightly sweet, with a dense, steamy filling. A dipping sauce on the side adds a hint of tang and heat.
If you go the ramen route, the tonkotsu is a filling option. Mizu uses both chicken and pork for its tonkotsu broth, and marinates its classic soft-boiled egg for added soy-sauce saltiness. Wood ear mushrooms are a little surprise bite and add an earthy taste to cut through the salt of the broth. Mizu uses very thin ramen noodles — almost like angel hair pasta — making slurping even more fun. Atop the noodles you'll find bok choy and slices of tender pork.
Option 1: $27
Draft Bomb: $6
Vegetable spring rolls: $3 (split)
Tokyo roll: $18
Option 2: $28
Sake and draft $6
Vegtable spring rolls: $3 (split)
Tonkotsu ramen: $17
Mizu Izakaya is located at 1560 Boulder Street and is open from 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, noon to 1 a.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. Call the restaurant at 720-372-7100 or visit the Mizu Izakaya website for more information.