Yamagen’s ‘Friday Lunch by Asahi’ is an introduction to delight; a finely nuanced mini-degustation of the best of the best.
I’m a huge fan of the long lunch. There’s no better start to the weekend than the Friday afternoon ‘flex’. As you leave work early to slip away for a sneaky lunch, there’s a hint of teenage naughtiness: we get to do this while others are still working!
Discreet and serene, there’s a feeling of seduction as we slip out the side door of the Surfers Paradise QT Hotel, across Calypso Terrace to Yamagen’s bar, glistening gold in the afternoon sun.
Without a doubt, Yamagen has our vote as the sexiest hideaway for a start to a longer weekend. Blending the vibe of Tokyo’s pop culture with references to traditional Japanese fishing villages, we are worlds away from the bustle of coastal life.
It’s best to ease in slowly with a beer or cocktail. My Utsumi Sour with its blend of Tanqueray gin, peach liqueur and aomomo peach is the perfect wind down as the chefs begin work in the glass-enclosed kushiage station, the enticing aromas of meat being cooked on the robata grill wafting through to whet our appetite.
Although you can dine off the menu, there’s a lot to be said for handing over control to the chefs. The Omakase lunch, for a minimum of two people, comprises share plates of some of the restaurant’s most popular Japanese-inspired signature dishes for just $49 per person including an Asahi Dry or glass of wine.
We start with salted edamame and a wine to ease us into an afternoon of relaxation.
A fan of paper-thin sliced snapper holds a hint of truffled tosazu and inflections of shio kombu, ume boshi and yuzu sesame on the palate, each bite a balance of silky richness to be savoured.
House made gyoza filled with indulgently rich pan-fried wagyu beef, white-soy mustard and negi.
Salt and pepper squid with negi, chilli and wari ponzu, is crisp, salty and tender, yielding to the bite with ease.
Served with steamed rice and miso soup, the signature dish of Crispy skin teriyaki Chicken on a bed of local warrigal greens, samphire and shiso with charcoal-roasted spring onion and teriyaki glaze is a triumph. (Captain Cook and his crew may have dined on warrigal greens as their first Aussie meal, but they bore no likeness to this exquisite dish!)
Our appetites satiated with deliciousness, there’s only one thing we’re yearning for – Head Chef Adam Lane’s Sashimi taco of spicy Yellowfin tuna tartare with yuzu avocado, watermelon radish, house spicy mayo and sesame served in a folded pappadum of puffed rice…and maybe a little whisky from Yamagen’s collection, the most extensive in Queensland.
But then we have the rest of the weekend still to come, and many more returns to Yamagen to savour the menu’s delights. It’s all about balance really isn’t it? Just like the omakase lunch – just enough… not too much…perfectly plated, a finely nuanced symphony of flavours…
“Blending old school Japanese culinary tradition with new invention”, what’s not to love about Yamagen’s Friday Lunch by Asahi! It’s inspiration to continue a weekend teetering on the edge of delight.
QT Hotel, 7 Staghorn Avenue, Surfers Paradise, Ph: 07 5584 1240
Every Friday 12noon – 3pm. Restaurant also open Tues – Sat 5.30pm – late.
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as guests of the QT Hotel. One photo is credited to Yamagen Restaurant.