Are you a food tourist? Is dining out one of the agenda items on your travel itinerary? If you research dining possibilities at each destination, reading about great chefs, exciting signature dishes and cultural food experiences, then you’re one of us!
We don’t always have to travel to indulge in food tourism. Sometimes we luck out and the great chefs come to us. They bring new cuisine influenced by culture and wide-ranging experience, flavours that surprise and excite, new cuisine, plating that’s exquisitely beautiful.
Living only a kilometre away from The Star Gold Coast, it’s been amazing to watch its $345 million upgrade taking place: two new restaurants, landscaping and remodelling of the pool area, a new tower of 6 star luxury accommodation suites and a rooftop pool to come.
As the centrepiece of this development, The Star has opened Kiyomi with Executive Head Chef Chase Kojima at its helm. Chase has led kitchens for Nobu in Las Vegas, Dubai, London, Los Angeles and the Bahamas, before founding Sokyo restaurant at The Star in Sydney. Knowing Chase’s international reputation for cutting edge cuisine, we excitedly accepted an invitation to dine at Kiyomi as part of a food media group.
For locals, Kiyomi is a stunning transformation of the mezzanine level restaurant overlooking the lobby bar. Acoustically transformed, its minimalist design nods in reference to traditional Japanese restaurants: muted brown tones, the privacy of booth seating along one side, Japanese murals and layered wood features. Yet it’s overtly modern as well, with a fabulous cocktail bar on entry, high bar seating running down the middle of the restaurant, and moody lighting – great for a romantic interlude; not so great for food photography!
Our eyes are drawn to the back of the restaurant where a fluorescent UV-lit artwork plays with colours and textures. It’s the work of Tokyo-based Houxo Que – a Japanese street artist. While the art is indicative of the joyful dining experience we’re about to share with other foodies, the name Kiyomi (a rare Japanese citrus fruit, a hybrid of mandarin and sweet orange) reminds us of the balance which is an integral part of Japanese-inspired cuisine. We’re in for a treat!
We begin with drinks, in preparation for the task ahead. There’s a plethora of choice: Japanese beers (both on tap and bottled), sake, Japanese whiskies, cocktails as well as wine. I take the advice of our waiter and try a Japanese Margarita, a heady mix of Herradura Plata Silver tequila, Cointreau, agave nectar and yuzu juice. Its sweet and sour mix will please those who enjoy exotic flavours of tropical fruits such as soursop, combined with the tang of a salt rim.
To me it’s the perfect drink, and I refrain from ordering another to branch out later with a Momoiro Sour. This is Kiyomi’s signature modern fusion cocktail, and oriental version of the Whiskey Sour made famous by Momofuku: sake, rosemary, shiso, lime and egg white, shaken not stirred, prepared for me by mixologist Thomas Angel.
Our tasting plates begin with a trio of amuse bouche not on the regular menu; teasers of smoky Edamame with soy and bonito flakes, a Watermelon palate cleanser on a trail of spicy sauce and Hanaji Maki served with Foie Gras, Wagyu, Watermelon and Teriyaki.
Then we begin our taste menu of Kiyomi’s menu: Sashimi and Raw.
Seared scampi with foie gras, apple and mizuna, a dish Chase has specially created for this restaurant. The empty scampi shells stand guard around their lightly seared sashimi-like meat. Dressed in a mist of edible flower petals, with tiny batons of apple and mizuna, the dish looks too beautiful to eat. Almost! The addition of foie gras gives a complex richness to the intriguing balance of sweet scampi meat and tart crisp apple. This is a perfectly elegant mix of East and West on a plate.
Hiramasa kingfish, miso ceviche and crispy potato. Ceviche is hot! Yet again, Chase gives his own take on this dish, the delicate pieces of fish enhanced by miso, contrasting completely with ethereally crisp tendrils of potato. Playfully exciting in mouth feel, the ceviche is anchored in an earthy triangular bowl.
I talked later to Chase about the tableware used in Kiyomi, noting that Rene Redzepi had spent more on plates for Noma’s 5-week stint in Tokyo than he did in flying 77 staff over there! Chase said that most of the tableware was his own design, manufactured in China. These triangular dishes, however, were sourced from Japan.
Tuna – tataki, asparagus, enoki, tosazu and leek sauce. If I was to pick a dish of the night, as impossible as that may be, this would be it, for its complexity of flavour and texture alone. Perfectly seared to rare, the tuna is the best we’ve tasted. Chase tells me later that he sources it from one single fisherman in Sydney who delivers it to the Gold Coast in pristine condition. Surrounded by a garland of flower petals, batons of enoki and asparagus, slices of tuna sit on a bed of rich tosazu leek sauce, its richness the binding element to the dish.
Tempura and Fried
Tempura Moreton Bay bug, grapefruit, sambal, mayo and vinegar. Fresh perfectly cooked bug meat coated in a light and crisp tempura batter, is offset by the tang of fresh grapefruit, a subtle sambal mayo and vinegar dipping sauce. Though this dish was perfectly rendered, it was not my favourite. Instead, it served as an interesting interlude between more complex dishes.
Binchotan & Grill
Dengakuman toothfish with caramelised miso. Toothfish is a highly sought after fish, prized for its succulent texture. Served with caramelised miso, the fish, still smoky from the binchotan grill, flakes away in segments. This winning dish will be familiar to those who have dined at Sokyo.
Wagyu +9 striploin with eschalot and spicy teriyaki.
With smoky aromas and melt-in-your-mouth tenderness, this dish is a must try – a favourite south of the border, Chase tells me! Served with crispy lotus root and soft eschallots, it’s enhanced by a spicy yet sweet teriyaki.
Izakaya & Small Plates
King Brown mushrooms with truffle poke and lime. How do mushrooms taste so rich, so complex that they could be mistaken for meat? Scored to absorb the flavours of their rich truffle sauce, these mushrooms are earthy and delicious. It’s East meets West again, set off with a tang of lime.
Sushi & Roll
Queensland roll, Crispy rice & spicy tuna and Tai Nori. A long platter holds three of Chase’s sushi creations: the Queensland Roll a sweet and creamy mouthful of spanner crab meat and avocado contrasted with pops of puffed rice; Crispy rice with spicy tuna – I’m not surprised to learn that this is Chase’s signature dish. It’s a ripper, unlike anything I’ve tasted before, a contrasting surprise of texture and flavour; Tai Nori, a contrast of smooth fish with the accent of crisp nori and shio kombu salsa.
Mochi Ravioli. This is without doubt how mochi’s supposed to be: fresh rice dough ravioli shaped like spaceship, filled with bubblegum-like frozen strawberry milkshake! Pop culture meets fine art, these ravioli are a playful triumph!
Goma Street – tempered dark chocolate, caramelised white chocolate mousse, served with black sesame ice cream. Goma Street’s serious complexity contrasts starkly with the pop rock Mochi Ravioli. Combine the richness of tempered dark chocolate with caramelised white chocolate mousse, both white and black sesame elements descending from the East, and you have the making of a legendary dessert. Little wonder that it’s one of Chase’s signature dishes which he’s brought from Sokyo.
It was an absolute delight to experience Chase Kojima’s cutting edge Japanese-influenced cuisine. A balance of traditional and modern, our meal at Kiyomi brought unique combinations of the freshest ingredients to our table; a surprise and delight to adventurous diners. We do not need to travel far to taste world class cuisine: Kiyomi has brought it to our doorstep!
The Star Gold Coast, Broadbeach Island, Broadbeach Ph: 07 55928443 or 1800 074 344
Open: Tues – Sun 5.30pm – late
DISCLAIMER: Good Food Gold Coast dined as guests of The Star Gold Coast.
NOTE: This review has also been published on More Gold Coast.