It’s easy to get lost to the grunge in the Lido Arcade, Surfers Paradise. You can get a buzz haircut, choose your latest tattoo, buy a surfboard, indulge in almost poster size slices of pizza, adorn yourself with diamante nails, or (most desirable of all) eat a meal at Amimoto.
Worn in from over thirteen years of travellers’ use, it’s a tiny hole in the wall restaurant, frayed around the edges, but still fulfilling its core purpose: providing an authentic Japanese meal to passersby.
It’s easy to walk past the entrance, your line of sight blocked by a clutter of boxes, containers and Japanese cloth banners. Peering into the tiny dining room with its mish mash of vinyl and wood furniture, its cloth hanging of a kimono clad prostitute, and the manga packed old pine bookcase, there’s little to entice you to step in and dine.
But then my gaze turns back to the sushi bar fronting the arcade and I watch entranced as owner-chef Hidekatsu Fujino picks up a piece of shiny sashimi from the glass fronted cabinet, places it on the board, ceremoniously sharpens his knives and begins to carve.
Sold! I take a seat at a vinyl clad table next to a group of Japanese tourists. Pages of menu items confront me, filled with choices: Bento boxes, rice dishes, noodles, katsu curries, à la carte grilled, fried and combination dishes.
But I’ve already made up my mind: sashimi and gyoza for me. I help myself to a cup of complimentary tea as my order is prepared.
Gyoza is one of my favourite Japanese dishes. Introduced to Japan from China in the 1940s, these bite-sized morsels, crisp on the outside, hot and juicy inside package of minced pork, cabbage and chives in a lightly pan fried skin are simply addictive! Dip them in a sauce of soy, rice vinegar and sesame oil and go to heaven. They’re simply delicious.
My sashimi also arrives, shimmeringly fresh, topped with huge glistening pearls of roe which demand attention.
Pick me! Pick me! The first sac pops open in my mouth, a little Pandora’s surprise of salty tanginess, a suitable entrée to the fishy delights to follow. The menu holds a range of sushi and sashimi delights, the Chirashi Sushi particularly popular.
Somehow, when I look up, my surroundings seem irrelevant. The well worn cloak shrouding Amimoto simply fades away with the tang of salmon roe.
Surfers Paradise has a few reminders of the golden age of Japanese tourism. Amimoto is one – for its food, but not for its ‘not so golden’ décor!
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