Sneak peek: Yamagen

A Gold Coast institution for over 30 years, Yamagen is set to re-open on July 28th to the delight of the Japanese Izakaya’s countless devotees.

After quietly closing its doors, the venue at QT in Surfers Paradise, has undergone a dramatic makeover fusing a traditional Japanese style of eatery with an eclectic, upbeat, Tokyo-style vibe. Yamagen pays homage to the old maintaining the soul of the restaurant it once was, while introducing modern dining concepts never before seen on the Gold Coast.

Diners enter through a dimly lit bar stocked with an impressive range of Japanese whiskey, sake and of course, a cutting edge cocktail menu.

Jordan Melling, co-creator of said cocktail menu, lists his personal favourite as the Kyoto Old Fashioned made with Japanese whiskey, yuzu bitters (a Japanese citrus fruit) and gelatin foam made with Gyokoro green tea, honey and Nikka from the barrel – phew. You’ve been told.

While you’re sipping watch the Chef whip up Sashimi Tacos and Master Kobe Wagyu from the kushiyaki grill set in the centre of the room. The space mimics a traditional Japanese home where the kitchen or tea is the centerpiece.  

When it’s time to eat, there are a couple of options. First, sit yourself around the sushi bar and watch Sushi Master Mitsuo Yoshino work his magic. Think Spicy Jalapeno Hiramasa Kingfish and Yellowfin Tuna Tatare. It’s an all-encompassing experience and the perfect opportunity to get some one on one time with the Master.

Of course, the candle-lit dining room also beckons if you’re after a little sophistication. In an interesting progressive dinner-style spin, you’re welcome to start your night at the sushi bar and then move on in to the dining room when you’re ready to re-ignite your tastebuds.  

The menu is sensational, including Tempura Crispy Bugs (Moreton Bay ones!), Steamed Prawn Noodle Dumplings and, in perhaps the best news of all time, Halloumi Skewers with smoked honey and bonito flakes (smoked, dried tuna).

For dessert you must taste the Miso Caramel Chocolate Fondant with goma ice cream and, because what’s overeating, also try the Yonuts – fried sweet donuts with yuzu curd and sesame sugar. Yes, those are real.

The entire experience smacks of traditional Japan while cleverly infusing a dining experience that is the epitome of QT-cool. It’s your new Surfers Paradise go-to. So go.

HOURS: From 5pm seven nights a week
LOCATION: QT Gold Coast, 7 Staghorn Ave, Surfers Paradise

Words and photos by Kirra Smith.