Japanese eatery Oi Izakaya lands in Burleigh with sushi burgers, sake and okonomiyaki
If you’ve ever travelled throughout Japan, you would have been captivated by more than a few culinary surprises along the way. From okonomiyaki to takoyaki and sweet mochi, traditional Japanese food is equal parts delicious and intriguing. After falling in love with the cuisine after just one bite, local lads Troy Olsen and Stephen Thompson wanted to bring the tastes, flavours and infectious hospitality that they found in Japan back here to the Gold Coast.
After months of construction work and menu development, Troy and Stephen last week lifted the ‘noren’ (aka the Japanese curtains) on Oi Izakaya – their first restaurant venture, which is nestled in the James Street alleyway that also houses Mexican eatery Hail Mary. The duo enlisted the creative prowess of local outfit OJ Thompson (the mind behind venues like Etsu, Baked at Ancora and Ally Chow) to create a space reminiscent of the bustling alleyway izakayas found in the depths of Tokyo – it’s dimly lit and moody, with both group seating and smaller intimate nooks where you can sip and snack all night long. True to tradition, the open kitchen puts the chefs in full view, creating a loud and fun atmosphere as they delicately craft authentic bites from the menu. At the other end, you’ll find Oi Izakaya’s well-stocked bar, brimming with whisky, sake, local spirits and Suntory beer on tap.
Start with salted rice crackers and spicy edamame, a tokkuri of warm sake, then scour the rest of the menu. The hero here is Osaka-style okonomiyaki (savoury Japanese pancake) in combinations like pork, seafood and thinly sliced beef – or you can add noodles for a Hiroshima-style twist. There’s also fried yakisoba noodles with pork belly, hand-made gyozas, fresh tuna and salmon sashimi plates, and delicate chicken-thigh karaage. The takoyaki, a popular street snack known as ‘octopus balls’, is given a twist by using prawn instead, while traditional sushi is flipped on its head and is served in the form of a layered ‘sushi burger’. A colourful selection of sweets round out the Oi Izakaya menu, from matcha ice-cream sundaes topped with red bean and sponge cake, through to mochi filled with green tea ice-cream, as well as taiyaki – Japan’s popular fish-shaped pancake filled with sweet red azuki bean paste, whipped cream and matcha ice-cream.
Keen to experience the tastes of Japan without the plane flight? Head to our Stumble Guide for Oi Izakaya’s opening hours, location and contact details.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Gold Coast dining guide with more than 870 places to eat, drink, shop and play.