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 mouth-watering 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!
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.
Saké Sisters, Surfers Paradise: The shining jewel in the Cali Beach crown, Saké Sisters is a modern Japanese restaurant that is poised to become a dining destination in its own right. The venue’s executive chef Marcelino Papio Jr. (affectionately known as JoJo) has worked at some of the world’s best dining institutions including Nobu Sydney, Toko Restaurant in Surry Hills and Zuma Japanese Restaurant in Dubai, and has dug deep to create an inspired modern Japanese menu that makes the most of its unobstructed ocean views and utilises Queensland’s rich bounty of produce from the land and sea. An absolute must-try!
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.
Goya Cafe, Broadbeach: If you’re yet to check out Goya Cafe at the base of the Meriton in Broadbeach, add that to the top of your to-do list. The coffee nook has been transformed into a beautifully minimalist Japanese-inspired cafe with epic eats and some serious hip-hop vibes. The all-day brunch menu is inspired by street-side eateries in Osaka and Tokyo with a dash of Melbourne’s celebrated coffee culture. You won’t find bacon and egg burgers here, instead, Goya’s menu features okonomiyaki and Omurice curries loaded with 12-hour slow-cooked beef, miso red-wine gravy and Japanese chilli – yum!
Iku Yakitori Bar, Burleigh Heads: Iku is the definition of a hidden gem. The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it venue changes its omakase-style menu weekly, depending on what they can get their hands on. Based on the Japanese concept of ‘shun’, it basically means that everything is used at its optimal point in time. There’s also a secret whisky bar out the back, which dishes up yakitori and Japanese favourites until late. Hot tip, the pork katsu sando is the stuff of dreams.
Itoshin, Mermaid Beach: Longstanding eatery Itoshin (or, as the locals call it, Big Itoshin) is the go-to for truly authentic fare including sashimi, tempura, teriyaki, hot pots and more. In a nutshell, if you set your standards high, you’re in good company with Yusuke, who took over the family business when his father retired four years ago. Perfect for intimate date nights through to large groups and family gatherings. Oh, and Itoshin is licensed but accepts BYO wine.
Little Itoshin, Miami: Tucked in the backstreets of Miami, Little Itoshin is the offspring of the aforementioned Itoshin. With just 26 table seats (plus four primo bar seats), the pint-sized venue is a little more contemporary while retaining its authenticity. Ideally suited to couples and small groups, Little Itoshin is licensed (no BYO). Hibiki, the younger brother, left Itoshin Mermaid in 2018 to create his own hole-in-the-wall venue that retained the Itoshin name and some of the recipes to carry on the family legacy.
Mr.Itoshin, Miami: Just between you and I, a third Itoshin quietly opened in May of 2021, in the same centre as Little Itoshin. Open Friday to Monday, Mr.Itoshin’s focus is seriously mouth-watering hot pots. Mr.Itoshin has no website, no Instagram, just a phone number. It’s somewhat of a local secret shared among those in the know.
Oi Izakaya, Burleigh Heads: If you’re a fan of traditional Japanese bites like okonomiyaki, gyoza and sushi, then Oi Izakaya will be right up your alley. Nestled in James Street, the moody 85-seat dining spot gives a nod to the bustling izakayas of Tokyo and beyond, with an open kitchen putting the chefs in full view of diners. You’ll find over 100 whiskies, mainly Japanese, sake to sit, as well as a curated range of Japanese-inspired cocktails.
Mr Kojima, Chevron Island: Mr Kojima is the handiwork of celebrated chef Jon Hizola (who has previously helmed the kitchens at many of the city’s esteemed Asian-fusion restaurants) and dishes up a modern take on traditional Japanese fare. The tuna tartare with crispy rice and zingy wasabi soy dipping sauce is a must-try!
Anekawa, Mudgeeraba: Anekawa is owned and operated by Japanese chef Koki Anekawa, who set out to create a culinary concept that applies traditional techniques from his hometown of Saga (a prefecture in Japan’s south) to ethically sourced local and Australian produce. Nestled in Mudgeeraba Village, Anekawa’s menu is constantly changing, covering small plates, raw delights, mains and a series of clay-pot rice dishes. There’s also a quality selection of sake and wine to sip.
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 unassuming.
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. There’s also a pretty sensational selection of sake, just sayin’.
Bistro Lamp, Mermaid Beach: Bistro Lamp is continuing its rich 22-year history on the Gold Coast from its new location in Mermaid Beach. Here you’ll find a menu that offers a unique take on traditional flavours, with share plates like handmade prawn gyoza swimming in a fiery coconut-chilli sauce, free-range pork-belly kakuni, and truffle-infused spaghetti tossed with edamame, mushrooms and a house-made shoyu butter.
Beun Modern Japanese, Mermaid Waters: As the old adage goes, you should never judge a book by its cover and Beun Modern Japanese is proof. Beun boasts some serious culinary credentials with Yusuke Ito (ex Restaurant Ten and Iku Yakitori Bar) behind the grills and his partner Yayoi Lovern welcoming diners from front-of-house. Beun brings together elements of Yusuke’s past experiences to create a modern Japanese menu that utilises ingredients and cooking methods from Japan, Italy and France whilst honouring the heart and traditions of his homeland.
Cafoo Izakaya, Palm Beach: Sashimi fiends are in good hands at Cafoo Izakaya, with a series of intricate arrangements of trawler-fresh tuna and salmon to start, alongside light bites like lotus-root chips, char-grilled sumiyaki skewers and seafood salads topped with marinated fresh salmon, tuna and prawns. There’s also authentic dishes like Osaka-style okonomiyaki, wagyu-beef tataki and handmade gyozas on offer across lunch and dinner.
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.
Wai Wai, Southport: Get around mouth-watering Japanese eats like crispy pork katsu, donburi bowls topped with thinly sliced wagyu beef, comforting katsu curries with rice, and spicy miso ramen. The indecisive folk can go for the bento boxes, arranged with sashimi, salad, miso soup, rice and main portions like karaage chicken, fried oysters, grilled mackerel, katsu and yakitori. If you love katsu, this is a go-to.
Izakaya Midori, Reedy Creek: This is the coast’s first-ever all-vegan Japanese restaurant. Located in Reedy Creek, the quaint neighbourhood izakaya dishes up an eye-catching menu of Japanese favourites, from ramen to katsu, karaage curries and gyoza – all creatively reimagined with a plant-based spin.
Hachi Nobby Beach: This longstanding eatery is 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 Japanese steak with homemade sauce. If you haven’t eaten the karaage curry here, you haven’t lived.
Harajuku Gyoza, Broadbeach: Harajuku Gyoza Beer Stadium in Broadbeach is your place to party! With Yoyogi brewing co’s brewery onsite pouring fresh Japanese craft beer which goes perfectly with Japanese dumplings, Karaage fried chicken, and Izakaya sharing dishes.
Project Tokyo, Mermaid Beach: The menu here is designed to strike a balance between authentic Japanese flavours and modern innovation, with a sole focus on local produce. You’ll find familiar moreish classics (hello there, giant bowl of fried karaage chicken) alongside lighter, more intricate delicacies like vibrant sushi plates and kingfish sashimi with jalapeno and yuzu.
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.
Honourable mentions: This list is really just scratching the surface! We meant it when we said we’re spoilt for choice. Tuck into takeaway okonomiyaki or a poke bowl at Okazu Sushi Bar, pull up a seat at Kabachi-Ya in Labrador, Kemuri in Carrara, or experience the ramen goodness at JFX Noodle & Tapas Bar.
Did we forget your fave? Tell us at [email protected]
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