Cayman Compass: Dim sum brunch offers taste of Asia

Dim sum

(Published in the Cayman Compass Weekender, Friday, 9 May, 2014)

For many, brunch is a regular Sunday routine in Cayman, where bubbles and mimosas go hand-in-hand with buffet-style spreads of brunch staples. 

Mizu Asian Bistro & Bar is changing things up a bit, offering Cayman’s first dim sum brunch, a traditional Cantonese lunch-time treat.

Bite-sized Asian delicacies served in bamboo steamer baskets and on small plates are the hallmarks of a classic dim sum feast and can be found in abundance at the Camana Bay-based restaurant. Launched last month, the a la carte brunch offers a smorgasbord of traditional dim sum favorites.

Growing up in Hong Kong, I’ve been a dim sum fan ever since I can remember, and I have long bemoaned the lack of dim sum spots in Cayman.

Mizu’s menu offerings include a selection of soups, appetizers, noodle and rice dishes, sushi, and the all important – and unbelievably good – steamed, fried and sticky bun dumplings. My guest and I enjoyed our fill of san choi bau (chicken served in a lettuce wrap), Asian-style calamari, prawn wraps, pork belly bites, scallop, shrimp and pork siomai (steamed bite-sized morsels wrapped in a paper-thin water dough) and pork sticky bun to name just a few. All food items on the menu are made fresh in-house, tasting all the better for it. Indeed, for a dim sum fan, Mizu’s brunch is quite simply heaven on a plate.

Dim sum originated in China hundreds of years ago when teahouses sprung up along the ancient Silk Road to accommodate weary travelers. Dim sum in Cantonese is usually known as going to “drink tea” and is linked with the older tradition of “yum cha” (tea tasting). Over time, teahouse proprietors started adding bite-sized snacks to their menus, transforming this traditional restful respite into the often loud and enthusiastic dining experience found today.

While dim sum started out as a snack, today it has evolved into an intrinsic part of Chinese dining culture. Dim sum dining halls can often accommodate hundreds of diners, with the food typically being wheeled around the restaurant on food carts. While Mizu’s dim sum experience is certainly more refined, the food is as authentic as it comes.

Indeed, prior to the opening of Mizu last year, chefs Steve Shienfield and Dylan Benoit traveled to Asia on a tasting tour where they were tasked with sampling the widest possible selection of dishes, enabling them to recreate authentic Asian cuisine here in Cayman.

Unlike many other brunches on island, which usually only extend to all you can drink “bubbles,” Mizu’s brunch includes all you can drink domestic beers, house wines and sake and well-drinks too, making the dining experience not only delicious, but exceptionally good value too.

Shienfield said that Mizu’s aim is to offer a brunch experience that is truly unique.

“Most brunches are buffet style in Cayman and offer very similar fare. Mizu is doing a more traditional style Asian brunch.

“We wanted to do a dim sum brunch from the moment Mizu opened. However, we needed to find a way to ensure we could do a large amount of food all at the same time while ensuring each basket of food tastes as good as the next. We felt that we could offer a brunch option on the island that is totally unique. People can come to Mizu and enjoy a made to order brunch that they cannot get anywhere else.”

The dim sum brunch is $43 and is held every Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reservations are required. Call 640-0001.

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