We have chefs we love, and Chef Yusuke Ito is one of them. You have probably eaten Chef Yusuke’s food before. Chances are, though, that unless you’d been paying close attention, you may not have known that Yusuke had cooked the food on your plate.
Quiet and unassuming, as are many Japanese chefs, Yusuke worked his way up through the industry to Head Chef position of some of our most reputed restaurants. Now, with his partner Yayoi Lovern, Yusuke has opened his own restaurant beside a service station off Bermuda Street, Mermaid Waters.
We are fortunate to have a number of exceptional Japanese restaurants on the coast, including some best described as ‘Modern Japanese’ for either their innovative presentation or their fusion of Japanese techniques with Western food elements. Beun is one of them.
A child of parents who owned a bakery, food was in Yusuke’s blood. He trained as a chef of Italian cuisine after completing university in Japan. Unusually, it was after moving to Australia working at Restaurant Ten Japanese and Etsu Izakaya that he acquired his Japanese culinary skills on his way up to Head Chef position at Iku Yakitori.
Yusuke has named his first restaurant ‘Beun’ in memory of his mother who was killed in a snow accident. Meaning ‘a beautiful cloud’, Beun pays tribute to Yusuke’s mother’s as well as referencing her mastery of ikebana, the Japanese floral arts.
In Beun Modern Japanese, Yusuke brings together the different strands of his culinary experience, combining ingredients and cooking methods from other countries while still retaining Japanese culinary principles and traditions. It’s a menu ranging from starters through hot and cold appetisers, ramen, pasta, rice, mains (including Wagyu steak) to dessert, with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free clearly marked.
As Yayoi serves our drinks – Suntory on tap from Kyoto, and sake served Japanese style running over the glass into a box, we begin our meal of courses chosen by the chef.
Two shared appetisers, one cold and one hot, start the journey. Firstly, comes Chirashi, traditionally a Japanese bowl of rice loaded up with seafood and vegetables on top. In Yusuke’s chirashi, salmon, salmon roe, Hokkaido scallop and crab meat, with the addition of puréed avocado, are beautifully arranged along an oblong platter, better showing off the seafood. Next is Wagyu pancake, the richness of the meat the star of the dish.
One of Yusuke’s signature mains follows, a Japanese version of marinara, the tagliatelle loaded with bugs, prawns, clams and scallops, one of the lightest versions of the dish that we have tried.
We don’t often choose chicken as a main course, however the sous vide chicken breast served with truffle soy butter and potato salad at Beun is perfectly moist and flavoursome. It’s a feat to get chicken breast so succulent.
Belgian chocolate mousse follows, two scoops of the richest velvety chocolate that slides across the tongue. Magnificent!
In the last two dishes especially, Yusuke is the master of understatement. Retaining the elements of purity and simplicity so prized in Japanese cuisine, he presents dishes that look quite simple on the plate yet taste exquisite.
In an extremely visual culinary arena which values presentation, sometimes pretentiously overt in its detail even at the expense of taste, Yusuke bucks the status quo to forge his own flavour-driven path.
Yusuke’s food is the best of East and West, skillfully prepared by a master. Presenting us with something completely different to anywhere else, Beun is not to be underestimated.
Beun Modern Japanese, Shop 1B, 1 Lake View Blvd, Mermaid Waters Ph: 07 2103 3255
NOTE: Mon & Wed BYO; Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Beun Modern Japanese.