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.
Ah, Surfers Paradise. The jewel in the crown that is our fair city. The place visitors first picture in their minds and have done for the last several decades. While it is the most tourist-dense part of our Coast, what is it local’s love about it? Here we fill you in on the six best reasons locals love Surfers Paradise.
Belt out karaoke at Tune Up
The definition of karaoke, Tune Up is THE place to test out your vocal cords after you’ve had a few cocktails at bar instution The Avenue or a few schooners of ale from House of Brews. It’s an intimate environment that feels much like a house party where you can choose to mingle with everyone in the main bar or take up residence in your own little private room and sing your heart out. Count us in!
Where: Level 1, 23 Cavill Ave, Surfers Paradise (above Gold Coast Real Estate)
Have a Guinness at the D’Arcy Arms
Wet your whistle with a pint of Guinness at D’Arcy Arms where the historic first Guinness keg was brewed in Queensland (and arguably Australia), tapped onsite in 1988. This locals’ Irish pub fave offers a welcome change of pace if you want to take things slow, keep warm by the fireplace or if last night happened to get the better of you. There’s always great home-style food to be had, live music and a few friendly faces with some good craic.
Where: 2923 Gold Coast Highway, Surfers Paradise
Have a luxe afternoon at Surfers Pavilion
Aptly positioned with ceaseless waterfront views and boasting a substantial mooring site of 400sq metres, means if locals would like to arrive GC-style by boat or jet ski — so be it! Setting and glam aside though, the new arrival is perfect for enjoying our fantastic year-round weather with an outside frosé bar, and for those with a discerning palette, a dedicated oyster and Champagne station keeps the crowd more than occupied.
Where: 30-34 Ferny Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Hit 9 pins at Strike Bowling
Prepare to lose a few hours when you step into this space which is a literal smorgasbord of entertaining activities and feast for the senses. The highlight is the 10-lane glow in the dark bowling alley where competitive urges can be settled with groups big and small. But, it doesn’t stop there either. If you fancy further fun, then a 15-person karaoke room, cocktail bar, two escape rooms, and pool tables should do it.
Where: Circle on Cavill, Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise
Sip cocktails on The Island Rooftop Bar
Rooftop bars are one of the greatest things that ever happened to the Gold Coast. Period. Now, take this sentiment and couple it with this — the Gold Coast’s largest open-air rooftop bar — and voila, you have one of the best places to drink delectable cocktails, watch live music, and live your best life at the stream of ever-changing events (drag queen brunch anyone?). You are promised great times and vibes when you head to The Island.
Where: 3128 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise
Grab breaky at Cuppa on 41
If you find yourself in Surfers Paradise before the afternoon, then you need to head to Cuppa on 41 to energise yourself for the day — as well as for all the other inclusions on this list! The café is an excellent concept that allows local underprivileged youth to become experienced in hospitality, and coincidentally isn’t so hard on your pocket either! Our pick is the Bauernomelett, a German-style omelette straight out of heaven. You’ll leave with a satisfied belly and knowing you have contributed to a change in a Gold Coasters future.
Where: 41 Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Indulge at Alfrescos Italian Restaurant
Creating picture-perfect pasta and pizza for the last 25 years, you might say what Alfrescos doesn’t know about Italian food and ambience isn’t worth knowing — and you’d be right! This charming family-owned and run restaurant has stood the test of time with locals and continually returning for great Italian classics and drinks to match. If you haven’t been in a little while, be sure to change that, the venue underwent a slight facelift late last year and is looking as enchanting as ever.
Where: 3/3018 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise
Boogie on down at Retro’s
When it comes to having a boogie along to cheeky tunes of yesteryear, you no longer have to hide in your bathroom in your towel to do so. All the locals know that Retro’s is the ultimate answer to having a fun night out and dancing the night away to the music you grew up with. With themed nights and drinks specials coming at you from all angles, you are destined to have a good time no matter what day of the week it is at this hotbed of a disco.
Where: 3 — 15 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Take in the view at Surfers Paradise Surf Life Saving Club
After a swish refurbishment, this 100-year-old surf club is the faultless place to go for an ice-cold beer for a spot of people watching, seamless views across the Pacific Ocean and to chat to a local. The family-friendly atmosphere is full of locals after their early morning beach walk tucking into a big brekky (but they’re also open for lunch and dinner too!) — a great option straight off the sand and when you feel the need to escape the crowds with some uber-friendly Queensland hospitality.
where: Corner of Hanlan Street & The Esplanade, Surfers Paradise
Words by Alex Mitcheson.
On June 13th each year we raise a glass to World Gin Day and the spirit that has certainly had its come up over the last little while. The Gold Coast boasts our very own gin distillery plus a host of bars making magic with local gins. All of which you won’t be surprised to learn we’re big fans of.
In honour of that, here are the best spots to get your gin fix on the Gold Coast this World Gin Day (or anyday for that matter). Happy sipping.
Tamborine Mountain Distillery
Tucked away on Mount Tamborine is one of Australia’s smallest and most unique distilleries with over 280 International Awards. Their gold medal award winning gin is the Lilly Pilly Gin, a pot still gin using botanicals such as Australian Lilly Pilly (Riberry), Juniper, Angelica root, Orris root, Citrus peel, Caraway, Coriander, Aniseed Myrtle, Elderflower, Mistletoe, Passionflower, Shepherd’s Purse and more. The best part about it, it’s got a delightful pink hue.
Where: 87-91 Beacon Road, North Tamborine
The Island Rooftop
It’s always a good time on the rooftop in Surfers Paradise, overlooking the city and with guaranteed good vibes. While all the sips are sweet, our recommendation is the Clover Leaf made with Beefeater gin, raspberry, lemon and egg white, so good.
Where: 3128 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise
Aloha Bar & Dining
How does a Saturn Juniper Uranus sound? Cool right. That’s exactly what you should order at Broady’s most colourful alleyway bar, Aloha Bar & Dining. It’s got Four Pillars gin, sloe gin, orgeat, passionfruit, lime and rosemary and it’s out of this world. The bar itself is decked out in full colour, with hidden rooms and moody, good time vibes aplenty. Follow the music down the alley and you’ll find yourself in a magical world of tiki goodness.
Where: 18 Main Place, Broadbeach
Fig & Frankies
Another delightful Broadbeach bar dedicated to exceptional sips and very good times is Fig & Frankies, also newish on the scene and also very well-loved amongst Gold Coast locals. Their cocktail list is tight and filled with delights made up of local spirits and you’ll want to try them all. Drinks are numbered rather than named and each is absolute perfection to be honest. We particularly loved Number One (aptly named) because it is made up of MAC by Brookies, clarified green apple and house lemonade and we cannot overstate tasty enough. Gather the crew and sip up a storm.
Where: 4/2707 Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach
A must-visit cocktail bar in Broadbeach, Roosevelt Lounge is one of the city’s sexiest spots for a cocktail, capturing the seductive style and glamour of decadent New York. For World Gin Day try the Down the Rabbit Hole Signature Cocktail made up of Ink gin, in-house chimmer liqueur (pink moscato, pisco, peach & orange blossom), blueberry vinegar, citric acid and life of cha crystal tea. Delightfully served in a tea pot, this cocktail is an Instagram dream.
Where: 75 Surf Parade, Broadbeach
The Gold Coast’s first gin distillery Granddad Jacks are, quite obviously king when it comes to gin cocktails (and gin in general). Our number one on their list is the Seymour Street with their very own Greenhouse Gin plus Eucalyptus and fresh lime juice because it’s the ultimate in Aussie-inspired freshness and it tastes top notch too. Love your work mates.
Where: 45 Lemana Lane, Miami
Oh Rosella’s, little love of our lives. A refined Australiana bar in the heart of Burleigh Heads, Rosella’s is bringing all Aussie eats and tipples to the very appreciative people. On a list of cocktails that will 100% improve your life (especially the Pet Nat Slushie – love you) but for the purposes of this article let’s chat about the Kylie Minogue Martini with Vickers Gin from Beenleigh Distillery no less, vodka, elderflower, verjus and pink peppercorn. It’ll have you spinning around in no time.
Where: 6/1743 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads
Tucked away down Justin Lane behind a red velvet curtain is Lockwood Bar. They a serving up a sexy sip titled Brookie’s Aviation which fuses Brookie’s Dry Gin, lemon juice, Tempus Fugit liqueur de violette and Luxado Maraschino liqueur. Topped off with a maraschino cherry, you know it’s a goodie.
Where: Justin Lane, Burleigh Heads
An intimate little space down Palmy way is Suga, a cocktail and rum bar open until late and serving up cocktails that are quite unlike anything you’ve sipped before. On World Gin Day we recommend a Gin Lippy with Larrikin Gin, citrus syrup, housemade lemonade and a whole lots of tastiness. A very tasty tipple indeed. Pop on in for a few of those this weekend.
Where: 1142 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach
The Collective Palm Beach
The Rooftop Bar at The Collective Palm Beach is a gin-lovers paradise with beloved gin-based cocktails including the Rose Hip Martini with Poor Toms Gin, hibiscus syrup, lime and grapefruit and the Unnamed Sympathy served Tiki-style with macadamia-infused Nobel Cut Gin, Bushfire Botanic Australis Gin and pine-lime allspice. Both of which are tried and tested by us and both of which are really very delicious.
Where: 1128 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach
Saint Helen’s Kitchen + Bar
If sipping cocktails seaside is your thing (and we know it is), you’ll love Saint Helens Kitchen + Bar signature slurp The Gin Thruster. It’s got gin, blueberry and tonic. It’s bright, refreshing and super Insta-worthy – if it lasts that long.
Where: Shop 2/78 Musgrave Street, Kirra
Words by Kirra Smith
A traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice with additions of water, yeast, and koji, the legend of sake surrounds the story of a prince who once used the beverage to intoxicate a dragon to save a princess. Not your average fairy tale, but a clever prince nonetheless.
Originating in Japan over 1,300 years ago and traditionally revered as an offering to the Gods, it has become popular worldwide thanks to its unique hot and cold varieties and its ability to enhance the tastes of our beloved Japanese food. Always on the hunt for flavour, we found the 11 best sipping spots of sake on the Gold Coast in honour of the sacred brew.
Misono Japanese Steakhouse
An in-house speciality, sake is much loved at Misono. Served solo in six varieties and with detailed explanations of each on the menu, Misono’s sake options all fall within the range of the four main designations of the drink (dependent on how much the rice grains are polished). Not only can you drink it straight, but Misono also specialises in cocktails incorporating sake for something totally unique. Try the Kiwi Sparkler with sake, muddled kiwifruit and lime on ice topped up with sparkling wine.
Where: JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa, 158 Ferny Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Eddy + Wolff
The intimate little venue hidden away in Robina, Eddy + Wolff are the masters of contemporary Asian eats, tasty tipples and an interior like no other. You’ll love the rounded, polished concrete ceiling, neon sign and soft pink hues that make up the stunning space. Of course, the team have chosen only the very best sakes to complement their menu, including one reminiscent of Limoncello that we can’t get enough of. The perfect spot to share a sake with your pals.
Where: 12/217-219 Ron Penhaligon Way, Robina
Masters in the art of sake service, the team at Kiyomi have been through a rigorous training program to ensure they know their stuff. Offering a sample from each sake category, flavours range from earthy mushroom to citrusy and floral in both still and sparkling varieties. Kiyomi serves their warm sake at 46 degrees, the traditional temperature, and present it in a stone Tokkuri, handmade in Japan. Cold sake comes in a mouth-blown Tokkuri made with a large divot for holding ice spheres to keep it at the correct temperature. If sipping sake on the Gold Coast is a must for you, you have to visit Kiyomi.
Where: Lobby level, The Star Gold Coast, Broadbeach
Iku Yakitori Bar
Iku Yakitori Bar is a Burleigh favourite boasting many a delicious Japanese dish cooked over Binchotan coals and with lots of extra smoky flavours. Of course, there’s a handpicked selection of sakes on offer of the absolute highest quality possible, as is the way of the Iku team. Ask for the story behind each and prepare to be dazzled by their knowledge and the unique flavours on offer.
Where: 1730 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads
Tucked away in Robina Quays is Cocotte offering a fusion of Japanese and French dining and plenty of sake options to complement the delicious dishes. Eight opportunities await from the popular Hyogo, Yamaguchi and Fukui regions, both by the glass and the bottle. A favourite is the Dassai Junmai Daiginjo, made with rice milled to just 23% of its original size and boasting flavours of grapes, flowers, strawberries and the freshest mineral water.
Where: 16A Robina Quays Shopping Centre, Corner of Robina Parkway and Markeri Street, Robina
At Etsu, they say sake has something to give that wine can’t, most notably texture and umami (the flavours that’s neither sweet nor sour). With over 16 varieties of sake from seven different regions of Japan on offer, Etsu has one of the most diverse ranges on the Coast. Keen to try them all? Ask for a Sake Flight – three, 40ml samples of selected sakes. Add a little fun to your dinner with a selection of one cup sake, take-home souvenir cups printed with popular classic Japanese cartoon and Disney characters.
Where: 2440 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach
If opulent plates of the freshest hunks of sashimi matched elegantly with crisp and refreshing sake sound like a flavour party you want a piece of, then may we suggest you look no further? Cafoo has been wowing Palm Beach locals for a while now with excellent displays of off-the-charts Japanese cuisine and is often booked out. If you manage to grab a spot, you must try one of their signature sake cocktails — to freshen your palate, of course — or an ingenious twist on a European favourite: Sakegria.
Where: Shop 6, Fifth Avenue, Palm Beach
A hidden gem out the back of Burleigh, Wazen is serving up incredible Japanese eats at VERY affordable prices. The menu is extensive, so go there at a starving time of the day and, of course, don’t forget to sample a few sakes while you’re there. There are several authentic varieties to try, and the staff know exactly what they’re talking about: ask what will best go with your favourite dishes, and you’ve got yourself a tasty time.
Where: 1/33 Tallebudgera Creek Road, Burleigh Heads
Tucked away in the residential backstreets of Miami should by no means put you off dropping into a haven of Japanese delicacies. And when you do drop in, be sure to try some of their fantastic fresh oysters or deftly made nigiri with a crisp and well-matched sake that will leave your tastebuds all shook up. It doesn’t end there. If you have the space, be sure to ask about their desserts not found on the menu: if you know — you know!
Where: Shop 6, 110 Mountain View Avenue, Miami
With playful vibes of Tokyo’s most notable suburb throughout their Broadbeach venue, crispy gyozas and the freshest Japanese craft beer are eternally flowing at Harajuku Gyoza. But it’s the hard-to-find sakes — served both warm and chilled — that round out a taste adventure not worth missing. Grab your gang and request a cheeky round of sakes to up the ante on your evening out — kampai!
Where: G66 The Oasis Shopping Centre, Victoria Avenue Broadbeach
Mamasan Kitchen + Bar
This Gold Coast favourite specialises in an enticing blend of modern and traditional tastes, and offers a range of sakes from house to premium and speciality sweet blends. Ranging from dry to delicate and fruity to floral, flavours include apricot and marzipan, mandarin and lime, tropical fruits and banana and savoury and nutty — to name a few! Mamasan also offers a Sake Flight served chilled and made of three 30ml choices from the menu.
Where: 3 Oracle Boulevard, Broadbeach
Words by Alex Mitcheson.