My early culinary memories of the Gold Coast involve The Shell Bar on Cavill Avenue, Froggy and Woggy’s (Orchid Avenue) and Itoshin.
Owner Tomy Ito and chef husband Shin opened Itoshin in North Burleigh about thirty years ago. My comments in the ‘Mietta’s..’ guide of 2001 were:
“Sit in this funky restaurant and read the grafittied walls – comments of the rich and famous who’ve dined here before you. It’s casually retro-chic, board shorts and T-shirts welcome. But there’s nothing casual about the food: quality Japanese cuisine at affordable prices…”
So popular that it was often crowded out with surfies and gourmands lined up side by side, Tomy decided to move Itoshin to larger, more upmarket premises in Mermaid Beach. Gone are the rough bench seats and graffiti. Just a few stairs up from the highway, you pass under a cloth curtain into a sedate dining room. There’s a choice of traditional as well as Western seating, divided by bamboo screens to give privacy, large paper moon light shades dangling overhead.
But what makes Itoshin a favourite restaurant of so many people is the exceptional food quality, its freshness and authenticity. There’s a fantastic variety of Japanese à la carte dishes to choose from: Tempura, Teriyaki, dinner sets, hot pots (Sukiyaki, Shabu shabu, Udon, Yakimiki, Spicy miso and Itoshin Nabe), as well as the freshest Sushi, Nigiri sushi and Sashimi choices (even sashimi of the day), all served with unobtrusive quiet dignity.
We settle on the Teriyaki Scallops, Cold Duck with horseradish, and of course Sashimi, renowned for being among the freshest on the coast. The melt-in-your-mouth flavours are a sheer delight! When dining at Itoshin, we always take home a bottle of Tomy’s miso salad dressing. It’s freshly made to order, so place your order with your food.
A value option is the six course dinner set for around $50, which gives you a starter, main with rice, soup, salad for two, steamed or tempura veggies plus a dessert – enough to share as a light meal between two.
A well-stocked bar flanks the restaurant, high chairs butted up along its length, it provides a tranquil place for a quiet drink, with Japanese Asahi or Orion beer on tap, as well as a great range of sake and even cocktails. Try the cold sake trio: Pink (Suishin), Clear (Chirnkabe Gura) and Blue (Harushika).
Itoshin is a place to be savoured: a quiet unassuming haven for lovers of high quality, authentic Japanese cuisine.
2484 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach Ph: 07 5575 5733