Hanamizuki

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Hanamizuki is true Japanese in the heart of Orlando's Tourist World

Hanamizuki How Japanese is Hanamizuki? If you go to the International Drive restaurant's Web site, it pops up first in Japanese -- you have to opt-in to an English version.
Of course, that alone doesn't vouch for the authenticity of the food. But in a town that considers "steakhouses" that proffer overpriced food that has been been banged and whacked on a hot metal grill the diners sit around to be the epitome of Japanese food, Hanamizuki gives a deeper insight into the intricacies and nuances of a cuisine that involves much more than the chef being able to flip a shrimp tail into his hat.

Hanamizuki's menu features Kyoto style cooking, which tends to be more elegant and formal than many of the dishes served in most American Japanese restaurants. It also focuses more on fresh vegetables and seafood other than sushi, although that is also a part of it and is available at Hanamizuki.

But good sushi can be found at other restaurants around town. Come to Hanamizuki for something different.

Try the octopus and scallions in nuta, a sauce made with white soybean paste, hot mustard and vinegar. Or grilled salted tile fish.

Kyoto style food is a good choice for vegetarians, as Kyoto is known for its fresh tofu.

The I-drive location will be a turn-off for a lot of locals who don't want to brave the tourist traffic. Here's a tip: Instead of entering the strip mall Hanamizuki is located in via International Drive, go around to Universal Boulevard and go in the back way; leave that way, too.

But do give it a try. You'll find that it's possible to enjoy delicious Japanese food without having to sit around a hot griddle with a bunch of strangers.