As you probably know, I recently skipped on back to Australia for a glorious three week holiday in the summer sunshine. Catching up with friends and family aside, it is safe to say there is one thing I love to do above all else when I touch down back home – and that is bitch about living in London. Don’t get me wrong, I love London. And yes, it was my choice to move here [albeit I originally made the move based on a use-by date, which has since been shot to hell].
B1 and B2 are prime candidates when it comes to enduring my senseless ranting and raging. However, when push comes to shove, my number one choice in terms of who should be on the receiving end of my bitch-fest is clear: The Parents. It is they who patiently sit through (literally) hours of my endless babble, which is, more often than not, recycled material from one of my many previous sessions
What exactly do I whinge about? Anything and everything, really. But if I am made to narrow it down, I would say that these are my most tediously over-used topics on why I despise London…and in this order.
- The ludicrously high cost of renting property.
- The painful weather situation.
- How lonely it can be living in a foreign city, particularly one as big as London.
- An obvious lack of butchers and fishmongers.
- The difficulties in finding good quality Japanese food.
- Or Chinese food, for that matter.
Number five is a particularly sore point. As I have stated previously, when living in Sydney I completely took for granted the plethora of top quality Japanese restaurants that thrived throughout the city: Toko, Sushi-e, Azuma, Yoshii and Busshari to name but a mere few…and don’t even get me started on our ramen joints. (Point six is a separate argument altogether, with Mr Wong and Golden Century being some of my most greatly missed dining destinations…but that is another story to crack open when we are desperate).
In a bid to get my two biggest vices out of the way early on in the trip, I immediately grabbed The Parents and booked us in for dinner at Kiyomi the minute we arrived on the Gold Coast, which is where we happened to spend Christmas last year. As a fan of Sokyo in Sydney, I was more than keen to try Chef Chase Kojima’s first venture outside of his much loved NSW-based Japanese favourite.
We met at Jupiters Casino for our early dinner reservation. As per always, The Parents were only too happy to entrust me with the responsibility of ordering food – although this may have come down to the fact that my borderline neurotic tendency toward the subject of dinner deemed this the least stressful option.
Being home, I simply could not go past the offering of oysters (AU$5 each). Served up with tosazu, truffle and chive, these were predictably good. Tosazu played its role perfectly as an Asian-style vinaigrette and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the truffle oil did not overpower my briny little bivalve friend.
Another ingredient I struggle to move past on any Japanese menu is scampi (AU$9 each). I was happy for the fact in this instance, as these little guys – lightly seared and paired with rich foie gras, crisp apple and bright shiso leaf – ended up being my favourite bite of the meal. Snappy in texture with an almost creamy mouthfeel, these were amazingly sweet and painfully moreish.
Making a flamboyant arrival in a flurry of dry ice, the sashimi moriawase (AU$70 for 20 pieces) was next to grace the table. The thick, expertly sliced pieces of raw tuna, salmon, kingfish, snapper, grouper, john dory and cuttlefish were as fresh and tasty as you could want. The dipping sauces (yuzu, miso, tosazu and dried tuna) provided a lovely accompaniment – but nothing beats a dab of wasabi and a slick of soy in my books.
My only complaint is that I did silently miss a little contribution from the shellfish family. But that being said, who am I to complain when the reality is that in London it is a struggle to find fish half this fresh – not to mention the general lack of selection and the fact that mackerel so often makes a guest appearance on sashimi platters served across town.
I remain unconvinced that the presentation was entirely necessary…but it looked cool, so I guess I was sold at some point.
Tuna tataki (AU$24) was up next, with lightly seared tuna resting on a well-balanced bed of tosazu leek sauce and surrounded by a nest of edible flowers, micro herbs, asparagus, enoki mushrooms and (I think) batons of pickled celery. It was an interesting play on textures and tasted really good…but it did not necessarily leave me wanting more. Call me boring, but I prefer more traditional styles of tataki.
Papa Bear is a mushroom fanatic, so the king browns with truffle poke and lime (AU$14) were a must order (see! I know how to compromise). With the hint of bitter char from the grill, these were supple and carried big earthy flavours, which were cut nicely by a touch of citrus. Really good.
Asking our friendly waiter if there is anything vital on the menu that we had missed, he promptly recommended that we order the caramelised miso toothfish with tomato and cucumber salsa (AU$38). I am so glad he did! Sweet, salty, succulent, buttery and satisfyingly flaky, this beautiful rendition of that ubiquitous Japanese restaurant menu staple (read: ‘miso-marinated black cod’) blew a good handful of its cousins right out of the water.
In a mad panic that we might conclude our meal without a single bite of sushi, we (/I) ordered two serves of the seared salmon nigiri (AU$9.50 for two pieces) with spicy daikon radish, yukari and tosazu. Not exactly traditional – but definitely delicious.
My non-existent sweet tooth is derived from Mumford…but Papa Bear can never go past dessert. We settled on the two specials of the evening: matcha fondant with chocolate ice cream and calpis pannacotta served with summer berries and lychee sorbet (both AU$14). The Parents preferred the refreshing pannacotta, whereas I – forever a sucker for matcha anything – preferred the gooey-centred fondant. Both were good.
The one negative remark I will make involves the setting. I cannot comment on the immediate dining space, which was visually beautiful and carried an elegant Japanese touch. However, the direct view of the gaming floor below from the open balcony – coupled with the somewhat garish lighting that intermittently transitioned across the seven colours of the rainbow – left a lot to be desired. Yes, Kiyomi does reside within a casino and it can hardly be expected that one can be removed from the scene completely. However, a growing number of restaurants have established themselves within a similar atmosphere (think: every.restaurant.in.Las.Vegas) and successfully managed to distance themselves from the true nature of the venue. It left me wondering why this was not the case here.
Nevertheless, this is Japanese with a modern twist done really well and I thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Kiyomi. I really wish we had more places like this in the UK to choose from! It reminded me of what I am truly missing – that being, the absolute ease of finding great Japanese food, as well as the simplicity of booking in dinner and roping The Parents along whenever I need a good bitch. It was good to be home.
Casino Drive, Broadbeach Island
Broadbeach, QLD, 4218
T: +61 2 5592 8100