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Yamagen Whisky Dinner

A six-course degustation paired with Japanese whisky.

It’s difficult to name many things that are better than a Japanese food feast. In fact, the only one that springs to mind is a Japanese food feast paired with the finest of Japanese whisky.

Which is lucky because that combination is a thing you can get amongst at Yamagen Japanese Restaurant in Surfers Paradise in March.

That’s right lovers of all things delicious and alcoholic, you’re invited to partake in what may just be the dinner event of the year and yes, we’re calling it early and yes, we’re usually right about things that are delicious and alcoholic.

The six-course degustation is made up of Yamagen’s finest culinary fare and perfectly paired with six Suntory whiskies from the famed Japanese distillery’s portfolio.

Dan Woolley, Beam Suntory’s Australian Whisky Ambassador (best job ever) hosts the evening, introducing guests to the world of next-level whisky including the history and how to properly sniff* the flavours (*not the technical term). It’s all very interesting as it turns out.

While absolutely everything that passes your lips at Yamagen is worth raving about, we definitely had a couple of favourites.

The Sakura Smoked Ocean Trout with negi, fennel, crispy leek, ikura and lime zest is all the very best things in the world and paired with a Hakushu Distillers Reserve, it’s a party in your mouth.

The second dish we loved was the Wagyu Beef Sirloin, which is a Darling Downs Kobe cut with buckwheat, edamame, shiitake and yakiniku. That guy is paired with the Yamazaki 12 year and it might be just be our favourite combo since cheese and wine.

Of course, every single pairing is a pure delight but we better leave some to the imagination.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of dining at QT Hotel’s cutting edge restaurant, do yourself a favour and let this be your introduction. If you have, well, you’ll understand just how good the Yamagen Whisky Dinner is going to be.

Fun fact: Suntory created the first Japanese whisky back in the 1920’s and the demand for it is so high that there may just be a drought in the not too distant future.

Which is even more reason to get your tickets for Yamagen’s Whisky Dinner RIGHT NOW.

Tickets are just $99 per person and you can get yours here!

DATE: Tuesday April 19th from 6.30pm

Words by Kirra Smith

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.


Although technically referred to as a buffet Bazaar, at QT Gold Coast, is a far cry from the soggy salads and tough-as-nails roast meat you experienced at the local for your Nan’s 80th.

No, Bazaar offers the type of buffet you have to see to believe with a menu that changes daily and an array of dishes that will show you the true meaning of the words ‘food coma’.

Unlike anything else on the Gold Coast Bazaar is a contemporary space in a self-described “deluxe street food setting”. It’s your one stop shop for taste-testing dishes from across the world, all of which will knock your socks off.

They say you first eat with your eyes and as soon as you enter the food-filled space you’ll understand why. Beautiful wooden benches laden with colourful, perfectly presented foods are spread out in front of you with Chefs at the ready to answer any queries or perhaps whip up a steak, cooked exactly as you like it, on the spot.

A cabinet filled with dried, hanging meats sets the scene and leads the way to the first section filled with woks, crock pots and baskets of everything from Seafood Paella to cauliflower Gratin, whole fish and warm, wintery vegetable soup.

Moving on, there’s a charcuterie section stacked high with crumbling cheeses, plump olives and many a variety of meat. Save that section for after dessert if you still have space. Next, a bench filled with an array of colourful salads and choices of additional goodies like capers and tiny Cornichons. Moving around the bench you’ll find an abundance of fresh seafood from king prawns to fresh oysters and crab. On your next round load your plate up with a fresh stir-fry, curry or meat-filled, deep fried eggplants and of course a prawn cracker or two.

Now you’re suitably stuffed, its dessert time! An entire wall is dedicated to your favourite sweet treats and the choices are mind-blowing. A soft serve laden with smarties and soft lollies maybe? Or why not try a piece of one of the many whole cakes and tarts (hello Banoffee Pie and gooey chocolate brownies). Shelves filled with citrus slices and tiny jars oozing chocolate cake and melting marshmallows are difficult to ignore while bowls filled with miniature macaroons will have you returning again and again.

Everything you can imagine is real at Bazaar. It truly is a treat for your senses so stretch those stomach muscles and prepare to be blown away.

HOURS: Breakfast: 6:30am to 10:30am
Dinner: 5:30pm to 9:00pm
Sunday Lunch: 12:00pm to 3:00pm

LOCATION: QT Gold Coast, 7 Staghorn Ave, Surfers Paradise.

Words by Kirra Smith.

9 reasons locals love Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise Beach - Photo by Will O (Image from Unsplash)
Surfers Paradise Beach - Photo by Will O (Image from Unsplash)

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

Surfers Pavilion (image supplied)
Surfers Pavilion (image supplied)

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

The Island Rooftop (image supplied)
The Island Rooftop (image supplied)

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

Retro's Surfers Paradise (image supplied)
Retro's Surfers Paradise (image supplied)

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.

Surfers Paradise Life Saving Club (image supplied)
Surfers Paradise Life Saving Club (image supplied)
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