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Finn Poké

It’s all happening in Burleigh Heads folks, we’ll be eating somewhere new every night for the rest of our lives at this rate and we’re not sad about it.

This week Finn Poké slid open its doors on James Street bringing healthy, colourful and, best of all, absolutely delicious poké bowls to the people. Now we know poké bowls have been discussed previously but allow us to elaborate for those who haven’t had the pleasure.

Originating in Hawaii, poké (pronounced poh-keh) bowls are usually made up of raw fish, rice, vegetables and other fun additions. Don’t stop reading if raw fish ain’t your thing though, you can also have chicken (cooked) poké, vegetable poké and tofu poké.

Burleigh’s newbie comes courtesy of Jem Jacinto and his team who began their foray into poké bowls in Byron Bay just last year and since then, opened a store in Pacific Fair and now, this pretty place.

Speaking of pretty, you’re gonna LOVE it. The space is all white textured walls and aqua leather seating with a tiled entryway way and, our fave, a neon pink slogan sign scrawled across one wall.

Wicker light fittings are strung down the length of the space and the whole thing comes together in a perfectly Burleigh way – light, airy and with delightful little pops of colour and we would like to move in please.

Especially because we could eat poké bowls all day long. Yes please.

Finn Poké’s bowls are a little different from most in that they source only the most premium of ingredients to ensure both quality and flavour are top notch. Which they are.

We’re quite partial to the Spicy Salmon Shaka because not only is it made up of the prettiest pink hues we’ve ever come across, it is also a flavour sensation. The Shaka has red onion, bean sprouts, daikon, watermelon radish, shiso furikake (seasoning) and spicy sriracha mayo over the freshest of salmon.

The Salmon Finn is also next-level. Reminiscent of summer in a bowl, it’s filled with cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bean sprouts, orange segments, nori furikake and classic shoyu (a type of soy sauce). So citrusy, so yum.

Of course, those are part of the signature bowl range but you’re also welcome to build your own bowl, which the chefs will ensure are perfectly balanced and even more perfectly tasty.

In conclusion (how dumb was essay writing back in the day), Finn Poké is the perfect addition to James Street and just imagine grabbing a bowl and perching atop Burleigh Hill every single day of summer. It’s going to be a time.

See you there, bring beers.

LOCATION: 31 James Street, Burleigh Heads
HOURS: 11am until late daily

Words and photos by Kirra Smith

Jem Jacinto

He’s the man who brought us Finn Poke at Pacific Fair just a few short months ago and this week, Jem Jacinto will open a second venue in Burleigh Heads.

We sat down for a chat with Jem about his Hawaiian roots (where poke bowls were invented) and how Finn Pokes’ chef driven concept means next-level poke bowls for the Gold Coast.

What do you love most about the Gold Coast?
First and foremost, the coastline and the beach, it reminds us a lot of where we’re from in the States (LA and Hawaii) and the people are great. It’s a healthy vibe here and it really suits what we’re trying to offer.

Tell us how Finn Poke came about?
My Mum and sister are based on the Gold Coast and I’ve always wanted to bring the family dynamic closer together. I love food, I have roots in Hawaii and what I know best is food. The poke was a no brainer because there wasn’t much established here at that point, about a year ago. We were in Byron for the week on vacation and saw a ‘for lease’ sign and thought let’s do it. Within two or three months we had our first store open and now here we are with the Pacific Fair and Burleigh stores.

What’s your food background?
I’ve been involved in the hospitality industry for about ten years now. My brother in law founded Fig and Olive in the US, which grew into a multi-unit brand with stores from New York to LA and I was there to help him build the stores and I got involved in the business side of things. Last year Fig and Olive sold and we opened Farmhouse so I’ve been involved in the industry for a long time. Fast casual is really where it’s at and that’s what we’re doing with Finn Poke.

What’s unique about your poke bowls?
We’re not your typical poke bowl we’re more of a premium offering without the extra price tag. We’re a chef driven concept and we source super high quality ingredients directly from the producers. We focus on that so we can provide the best value and quality. When you build your own bowl, we balance it for you to make sure you have the right amount of sauce, crunch and all the ingredients. That way you have a perfectly balanced bowl and that’s probably the most important factor. Our chefs make the bowl for you and ensure it’s perfect. It’s important to us to be a sustainable business too. We take from the ocean so we need to give back and be responsible. All our tuna is wild, line caught in Queensland and NSW. All the salmon here is farmed so we’ve chosen a farm that is certified, sustainable and has good practices. Our packaging is 99% reusable, plastic free and biodegradable.

You’ve opened in Pacific Fair and now Burleigh, why those locations?
Pacific Fair is such a prominent development in the Gold Coast, it’s been here for so many years, I remember when it was still new and it was such a formidable shopping centre back then. They recently spent a lot of money rejuvenating it and creating a great dynamic. I believe it’s really the shopping core of the Gold Coast so we thought it’d be great for awareness of our brand. Burleigh is just such a cool place; it’s really aligned with our vibe. You can grab a bowl and sit on the hill and feel good while eating a healthy meal. 

What else do you have on for 2018?
We’d like to get settled on the Gold Coast and then spread the poke love all the way up north. We always want to improve the brand and grow our offering too. I’ve got a few great recipes up my sleeve that I’ll launch for the summer including something that’s only found on the big island in Hawaii, I haven’t seen it anywhere else. It’s a poke recipe that’s vegan friendly and it’s really delicious.

What’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
Enjoy your family.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast:
Beach:
Burleigh
Restaurant: Finn Poke
How does your weekend usually look? At the moment, work but I usually spend my time in Byron with my family.

Restaurant Labart

Photo credit: Andy MacPherson
Photo credit: Andy MacPherson

Burleigh Heads is on absolute fire with venues swinging open their doors left and right, much to the delight of locals who apparently can’t get enough of tasty eats and bunkering down somewhere warm with a wine in hand (same to be honest).

The latest eatery to grace us with its’ presence is Restaurant Labart (opening tonight), a stylish space on Burleigh’s West Street, where Burleigh Chinese once lived. It’s simple sophistication at its finest and unlike anything the Gold Coast has seen before.

Which is of course, due to the fact that Restaurant Labart is the work of Sydneysiders Karla and Alex Munoz Labart who bring quite the impressive rap sheet to our beachside city.

But first, the interior. The narrow space is beautifully designed with walnut leather bench-style seating lining the walls and not-quite-khaki paneling with dark wood furniture and low-hanging lighting completing the picture. The vibe is earthy, refined and understated and we quite like it thank you very much.

The menu is, happily, the star of the show and that is a concept close to our hearts (and tummies). It’s made up of snacks (best) and both small and large share plates all of which are absolute taste sensations.

To share we recommend the BBQ King Prawns with shellfish butter, crème fraiche and finger lime and the Veal Tartare with sun-dried tomatoes, tarragon and potato crisps.

The large plates are all kinds of goodness and in particular the Seared Mulloway with peas, dill and horseradish and the Grilled Lamb Rack with charred turnips and green herb sauce should make you happy.

For dessert (OUR FAVOURITE) Chocolate Mousse with popcorn ice cream and salted popcorn is probably the most exciting dish there is in the world. Keep that one coming please.

You may also indulge in a cheese plate and if that’s not enough to have you making a reservation right this minute, please explain.

To compliment the stand out menu, a carefully curated selection of wines (including biodynamic and natural choices) along with Australian craft beers and seasonal cocktails are on offer to delight your tastebuds.

As mentioned owners Karla and Alex made the move from down south where Alex was the Head Chef at famed Sydney venues Monopole and Cirrus Dining, both of which were awarded Chefs Hats during his tenure.

Restaurant Labart is their first venture and, with the philosophy of aiming to simply make people happy, they’re sure to fit in just fine around these parts.

Excuse us, we’re off to consume all the chocolate mousse before the rest of you get your hands on any.

The end.

LOCATION: 8 West St, Burleigh Heads
HOURS: Dinner Wednesday to Saturday 6pm until 11:30pm. Lunch Friday to Sunday, 12 until 3 pm

Words by Kirra Smith. Photos supplied – interior shots by Andy MacPherson – food images via Restaurant Labart.

Iku Yakitori Bar

I think we can all agree Japanese food is a gift from the Gods. Particularly when it’s consumed in a floating, recycled railway sleeper booth and with the sweet smell of charcoal wafting through the air.

There probably aren’t enough words to describe the sensory experience that is Burleigh’s new back alley Japanese Yakitori Bar, but in the name of delivering the news, we’ll give it a crack.

Iku Yakitori Bar is the latest baby of local restaurant dream team Mitch and Nerissa McCluskey (of Etsu Izakaya and Commune fame) who will soon be welcoming an actual baby into the world (because sleep is overrated yo).

The vibe is dark and moody with the aforementioned booths floating a foot off the floor opposite the Binchotan (grill) and decked out with leather cushions and cosy, up-close-and-personal feels. At the alley end of the venue, a low-lit bar and velvet corner lounge await and you may dine in any area that tickles your fancy. With an authentic, somewhat massaging cobblestone floor, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d just stepped off the streets of Tokyo. Alas, work tomorrow.

In case you’ve never heard of a yakitori bar, the gist is this – yakitori quite literally translates to grilled chicken and no part of the chook will escape the Binchotan uncooked. That’s right foodies, your boundaries are about to be tested and you should not be sad about it. Thighs, liver, skin, cartilage and hearts will all be skewered for your tasting pleasure.

Tenderloin, seafood and veggies will also be stuck on sticks and there are other delightful things such as edamame dip and raw fish to consume too.

Bar manager extraordinaire Adam Bastow was brought down from Etsu to work his magic in the Japanese whiskey-focused space. He and the team will also be creating a new, fresh produce focused cocktail menu each week to keep you on your toes. Ambitious lot aren’t they.

Charcoal for the Binchotan is imported from Japan and everything from the plates to the leather menus and napkins have been handmade by the team (read: Nerissa). It’s tiring just reading that.

So many words, so many reasons to go. Thanks for reading.

LOCATION: 1730 Gold Coast Hwy (front entrance) or head in through the back on Justin Lane (next to Lockwood Bar).
HOURS: 5pm until late daily.

Words and photos by Kirra Smith.

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