Friday, May 13, 2011

Sacramento: Mizu Japanese Seafood Buffet

I spent Mother's Day weekend in Davis with my parents.  For lunch on Saturday, we met two family friends at a buffet in Natomas called Mizu.  I tend to be wary of buffets because so many of the dishes are often greasy, and there is frequently a lack of well-prepared vegetables, but I was pleasantly surprised by Mizu.  First, here is part of the salad bar, which features several Japanese-style salads (seaweed, bean sprouts, and lightly pickled cucumbers) in addition to some basic greens.

Next to the salad bar was the the [mostly Chinese-ish] hot dishes section, filled with various stir fries, a few items from the requisite-non-Asian-dishes-commonly-and-inexplicably-found-at-Asian-buffets family (e.g. scallops baked with cheese), and, not shown in the picture, some solid dim sum items like rice noodle rolls and soup dumplings.

Continuing left-ward along the buffet, one reaches the sushi section, about half of which is shown in this picture.  I was quite amused by the giant, mounded bowl of wasabi.  No one should go to a buffet in search of excellent sushi, but considering that this was a buffet, I thought the sushi spread was pretty decent.  High turnover obviously is key, and during the Saturday lunch hour Mizu had a reassuringly steady flow of customers and rate of sushi production.  They also go beyond California rolls, even serving a few rolls I haven't seen before (one involves using a blowtorch to sear the salmon that is wrapped around the outside).  Hand rolls can be ordered directly from the sushi chefs, and I liked the salmon hand roll I got.

One of the best aspects of Mizu is the made-to-order noodle bar that is found at one end of the room.  I didn't order a bowl, but everyone else at our table did, and I tried some of my mom's wonton-and-fish-ball-noodle-soup.  My dad and our friends ordered and definitely enjoyed the beef noodle soup.  There are quite a few permutations available, and as far as we could tell, they all feature fresh-tasting ingredients and broths that are blessedly not greasy.

Noodle soup with won tons and fish balls

Beef noodle soup with won tons

Some of the items I had included the salmon hand roll, some other sushi, barbequed pork and roast duck, and vegetables:

And finally, the dessert section, which consists of fruit, sponge cake rolls, coconut macaroons, little yellow cakes with peanuts, ice cream, and also a coconut sago soup (tiny tapioca pearls in a coconut broth, served hot):

That is green tea ice cream, not wasabi.

The restaurant's interior is quite airy, the server brought us a satisfactory pot of green tea, and the staff didn't seem to mind that we stayed at our table for quite a long time after we had finished eating.  Given the combination of variety, quality, and value (I think lunch is something like $13 a person), I'd be happy to return.