5 minutes with Yamagen's new Executive Chef.
5 minutes with Yamagen's new Executive Chef.
QT’s Yamagen restaurant recently underwent a makeover to be reinvented as a traditional Japanese Izakaya with a stylish twist. To add to the excitement, Executive Chef Adam Lane was recently added to the mix bringing his experience from both Sydney and London.
We sat down for a chat with Adam on starting his career with spaghetti bolognaise to why cherry blossom is the perfect cooking companion.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
5 years now.
Where about on the Coast do you live and what do you love most about it?
I live at Palm Beach so I love that I’ve got Tallebudgera and Currumbin in my backyard.
How did you first come to be a chef?
Sibling rivalry. My older brother was an apprentice chef before I got into cooking. He only lasted two years and I thought to myself, I can do better than that!
What’s your earliest food memory?
It’s not the typical story of cooking with mum or a grandmother. I moved out of home when I was 15 years old and ended up cooking a lot for friends. Simple dishes like spaghetti bolognaise, roasts and stir-fries, which my mates seemed to enjoy more than the food they were getting at home. That’s where I got the bug for cooking, which is still with me today. Food should be shared with family and friends to complete a wonderful experience.
What’s been your biggest influence in perfecting the art of modern Japanese cuisine?
I have been very fortunate to work alongside some very talented chefs. From my time as an apprentice at Sydney’s Banc to cooking alongside Nobu Matsuhisa at the starred Nobu or with David Thompson at London’s Nahm; even my time with Chase Kojima at Kiyomi has influenced what I do today.
The dishes you create are stunning, what’s your personal process of creating each one?
Yamagen is not traditional Japanese food. It offers a share-style menu to be enjoyed with family and friends. The new menu features an innovative twist on traditional favourites; it’s playful. Dishes need to be interesting for me to create and interesting for guests to eat. It’s all about quality, market-fresh produce and unique Japanese ingredients, combined in new and exciting ways.
What do you love most about cooking Japanese cuisine?
I love the lightness and delicacy of Japanese cuisine and I really enjoy the challenge of mixing ingredients that you wouldn’t usually think of putting together, so my menu is always evolving. Finding the perfect balance of flavours is what keeps me inspired.
Do you have a favourite dish?
One of my favourite dishes at the moment is the Sakura Smoked Ocean Trout with negi, fennel, crispy leek, ikura and lime zest. I’ve been playing around with cold smoke. By using Sakura (cherry blossom) wood chips and smoking the salmon in a chilled environment, it takes on a subtle smoky flavour without cooking the meat.
What’s been the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
Work hard, enjoy life and good things will happen.
Being a Gold Coast local, we have to ask your favourites on the Coast…
Cafe: Barefoot Barista and Spikexx Espresso
Restaurant: Fire Cue Bar & Grill – I like what they are doing with charcoal cooking
Beach: Tallebudgera and Currumbin
How does your weekend usually look: Busy in the kitchen at 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.