The round-up: sashimi to sukiyaki – where to find the best Japanese eats on the Gold Coast
From high-end dining spaces serving intricate sashimi dishes to bustling yakitori bars and hidden gems pumping out mouthwatering karaage in the backstreets of the ‘burbs, us Gold Coast folk are pretty spoilt when it comes to Japanese eats. In honour of one of our all-time favourite cuisines, we put together a handy list (in no particular order) of must-try Japanese restaurants and eateries on the coast. Kanpai!
Kiyomi, Broadbeach: Located at The Star Gold Coast, cutting-edge dining space Kiyomi serves an innovative yet distinctly Japanese menu curated by esteemed head chef Chase Kojima. Expect unique, exciting and surprising dishes, a refined cocktail offering and a plentiful collection of Japanese whiskies.
Etsu Izakaya, Mermaid Beach: When a restaurant has no need for a sign out the front, you can generally assume that great things lie within. This traditional Japanese izakaya den is a favourite among local foodies, effortlessly combining its eclectic interior and bustling atmosphere with its renowned contemporary izakaya-style menu (sharing is caring) and noteworthy bar offering. This is a must try.
Iku Yakitori Bar, Burleigh Heads: Iku may be the younger sibling to Etsu, but it certainly holds its own identity. This authentic yakitoryi bar specialises in skewered meats, sashimi and share plates, all designed to be grazed on as you sip sake cocktails and top-shelf whisky from your tatami seats. There’s also a late-night menu with secret dishes like wagyu-beef katsu sandos.
Cocotte Dining, Robina: Unless you frequent the Robina hood, Cocotte is not easy to stumble across in your travels. It’s nestled off Robina Parkway (near RQ’s Tavern) and is well worth seeking out. Passionate owner and chef Shunichi Tanabe puts an exciting French spin on traditional Japanese fare to create an impressive and intricate menu – it’s warm, homely and the epitome of a hidden gem.
Itoshin, Mermaid Beach: Longstanding eatery Itoshin is the go-to for truly authentic fare. Into sashimi? It’s as fresh as it gets here. Love a good bubbling hot pot in winter? Join the queue. In a nutshell, if you set your standards pretty high when it comes to authentic Japanese, you’ll be in good hands here.
Little Itoshin, Miami: Tucked in the backstreets of Miami, Little Itoshin (which opened in May 2019) is the offspring to the longstanding Itoshin. Owner Hibiki Ito’s newest addition seats just 25 locals, serving a seasonal menu that puts a contemporary lean on traditional Japanese comfort food, whilst retaining the level of quality that the original Itoshin has become renowned for. Think sushi hand rolls, fresh-as-it-gets sashimi and soul-warming dishes like ebifry curries.
Goto, Southport: Landing in Southport Central in early 2019, this sleek Japanese dining den dishes up fresh and colourful sashimi platters and intricate sushi creations, alongside smaller bites like crispy karaage chicken, agedashi tofu, donburi (rice bowls) and authentic udon noodles. Champon noodles, the regional dish of Nagasaki that is regarded as ramen’s healthier cousin, is the signature here.
Yamagen, Surfers Paradise: Spend the night at Yamagen and you’ll be transported into the bustling backstreets of downtown Tokyo. Much like the impressive interior, the food also blends old-school traditions with innovative culinary techniques – it’s designed to be true to taste, but not necessarily true to format … all prepared under the guard of celebrated head chef Adam Lane.
Bistro Lamp Deux, Mermaid Beach: This quaint and unassuming dining space needs to be on your hit list. Grab an Orion beer (or a whisky highball) with some miso chips to start before embarking on the difficult task of deciding what to order. The signature okonomiyaki sizzle is a must-try delight, or opt for the chef’s tasting platter and allow head chef Jiro Umakoshi to create something spectacular.
Donto Sapporo, Broadbeach: Specialising in cuisine from Japan’s Hokkaido region, Donto Sapporo is know for its very traditional offering (and fit-out!), serving everything from silky sashimi to crispy karaage, hot and cold noodles, sukiyaki, shabu shabu, made-to-order sushi, ramen and more. Donto Sapporo has been operating on the Gold Coast for nearly 30 years – so when we say it’s the real deal, we mean it.
Wazen, Tallebudgera: For traditional Japanese with a modern twist, you can’t go past Wazen. From its casual digs nestled along Tallebudgera Creek Road, Wazen serves a flavour-packed menu ranging from fresh sashimi and sushi through to katsu, karaage, teriyaki and spicy miso dishes, using only free-range chicken, local fish and organic vegetables.
Zipang, Currumbin: This gem is incredibly popular with southern locals. It’s tucked along Currumbin Creek Road and you’ll find a wide variety of share-style dishes from gyoza to sesame-crusted salmon, sashimi, beef tataki, katsu curries, hot pots and more. There’s always a killer specials menu on offer, too – helloooo salmon karaage.
Harajuku Gyoza, Broadbeach: Sure, Harajuku is famous for its gyoza, but the Japanese delights extend well beyond these handmade parcels of goodness. You can slurp on ramen, munch on takoyaki (octopus balls), devour some agedashi tofu and wash it all down with an ice-cold sake or three.
Hachi, Palm Beach and Nobby Beach: These longstanding eateries are well known for serving all of your Japanese favourites in a fun and friendly atmosphere. Start with an ice-cold Suntory then get stuck into everything from made-to-order sushi, okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake), sashimi, tempura everything, udon noodles and go-to hot dishes like teriyaki chicken and teppan beef. If you haven’t eaten the karaage curry here, you haven’t lived.
Izakaya Ichi, Southport: Want to eat where the Japanese expats eat? Go here. This unassuming hang, located right across the the tram stop on Nerang Street, is where you’ll find authentic Japanese hot pots, curries, gyoza, fresh sashimi, noodles galore, ice-cold sake and plenty of Japanese beers. Finish with a sweet mochi or indulge in an eye-popping bingsoo – a popular Asian shaved-ice dessert.
Honourable mentions: This list is really just scratching the surface. There are a few more hot tips we want to give you. Check out Koto Sanpo cafe at Pacific Fair for matcha creations and katsu curries, Motto Motto at Pacific Fair for a Japanese curry set and a green-tea ice-cream, tuck into okonomiyaki or a poke bowl at Okazu Sushi Bar, enjoy fresh-as-you-can-get sushi at Maruya in SoPo, experience the ramen goodness at JFX Noodle & Tapas Bar, or get your lunch-time karaage fix at Mamas Kitchen.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Gold Coast dining guide with more than 870 places to eat, drink, shop and play.