We’re having one of those D & M (deep and meaningful) discussions about why people keep coming back to their favourite restaurant –a signature dish, great service, comfort, price and proximity…
“It’s not just about the food, of course, it’s about the show,” the Main Squeeze puts in his two cents worth. He means the ‘people’ aspect of the dining experience, the meet and greet, feeling special because the staff know your name, even preferential treatment; in short, the ‘theatre’ of food!
And there’s no greater food ‘show’ in town than Misono. Bigger, brighter, better than ever, we’re about to find out that “there’s teppanyaki, and then there’s Misono”.
We sashay through the beautifully appointed spacious foyer, across marble-clad floors and up to the third floor entrance to Misono, where we are greeted by an elegant hostess. There’s a small bar just outside Misono; a great place to order a signature cocktail or on tap Asahi beer while waiting for your table.
Misono (formerly Benihana) was founded as a member of the worldwide chain of restaurants founded by boxer-come-restaurateur Rocky (Hiroaki) Aoki, allegedly named after a single red flower which Rocky’s father sighted in rubble-strewn Tokyo during World War II. At the Gold Coast restaurant, red peace cranes and spring blossom buds in delicate glass domes line the restaurant’s corridor, a reminder of the fragility of hope and regeneration.
We’ve dined at Benihana on many occasions, however with the change of name, the experience has gained new life. It’s as though the chefs have finally taken the experience on as their own. Their performance at Misono (a brand of Japanese steak knife) is now cutting edge.
The dining areas of Misono are made up of back to back open U-shaped teppans, each one seating eight diners with ease, far more intimate than the larger grills at some other teppanyaki joints. Facing teppans are lit alternatively, giving diners the chance to watch celebrations at nearby tables, and to join in the fun.
We’re amply entertained with drinks, salad, complimentary sushi and karaage to stave off the hunger, and then it’s our turn to watch the grill’s baptism of fire and the chef’s antics. (You can order sushi or sashimi from the kitchen but, let’s face it, the real action is watching the teppan chef prepare your food.)
This is participatory dining. The ‘elegance and peace’ of the journey to the teppan is soon forgotten as our chef introduces himself and immediately begins work. He’s an enthusiastic entertainer, taught his skills in true ‘Misono style’ by Head Chef Henry Bongay, who’s steered the restaurant for over twenty years. It’s a nightly routine: making flaming volcanoes out of onion rings, juggling kitchen implements, shooting bits of prawn or egg into willing mouths or even down the nearest cleavage, the frivolity accompanied by a constant babble of quick-witted remarks and jokes. The table has truly warmed up, guests interacting and joining in the frivolity.
But the action does not stop there. At Misono, the entertainment has ramped up a few notches. It’s ‘Teppan Henry meets Happy Days Diner’, as the chefs stop periodically to join in co-ordinated dance routines. ‘Come on baby, do the locomotion’ has diners up and out of their seats, clapping the chefs on. Our dining stops too for a traditional Japanese drum performance from Ikue Terui which brings the house down. It’s a beat specific to her home village. Amazing!
If we were to look at our Misono experience purely on the food alone, at $42 (vego) to $83 (the lot) per person for the Teppanyaki Banquets, the price tag may seem steep. But it must be remembered that this is a generous meal in the luxurious setting of one of the Gold Coast’s best hotels, serving top quality meat and seafood.
In the past, we’ve taken advantage of the ‘Early bird Offer’ (5.30 or 6pm sitting for $35 per person) which entitles us to the Hibachi steak or chicken banquet: a bowl of onion soup, a fresh but innocuous salad, hibachi zucchini and onion, steak/chicken/tofu and hibachi fried rice. A dollop of garlic butter here, a spray of sauce there, loads of entertainment in between, and our meal is served; fun food, not overly sophisticated, but ultra fresh, very tasty and more than enough to satisfy our appetites. There’s also a ‘Why Cook Wednesday’ deal which offers the choice of two banquets including steak, chicken and seafood for $39. (Be sure to check on the availability of these seasonal deals when you book.)
Misono dishes up so much more than food. It’s the best interactive communal dining experience we’ve ever had; a fabulous show, a whole night’s entertainment which is unforgettable. It’s also a high quality, accessible meal which can be enjoyed by an extended family with varying dietary needs; perfect for a family celebration. Maybe it’s not your ideal quiet date night, but let your inner child loose. The ice will soon be broken and you’ll have a great time.
“Thanks, mate!” our chef writes on the grill at the conclusion of our meal.
No! Thank you! We’ll certainly return to share the experience with friends.
Misono, 3rd floor, Surfers Paradise Marriott, 158 Ferny Avenue, Surfers Paradise. Ph: 55929770