I don’t remember the first time I had Japanese food. As far as I know, it’s a cuisine that has been with me ever since I learned how to distinguish more flavours than just “sweet”, “salty” and “bitter”. Honestly, I could not imagine how much emptier my life would be if Japanese cuisine did not exist.
Similarly, I can’t quite remember the first time I visited the Gold Coast. It must have been over 10 years ago, but I remembered swell summer days, auric beaches that extend as far as the eye can see, and of course, some of Australia’s best theme parks you could experience.
For all its charms, I did not consider the Gold Coast to be a bastion of higher-end, Asian-inspired dining. Then, Chase Kojima put his foot down, and everything changed.
Date Last Visited: 28/2/2015
Address: Jupiters Hotel & Casino Broadbeach Island Broadbeach, QLD 4218
Recommended Dish(es): crispy quail (if available), all Sokyo-inspired dishes
The absolutely lovely folks at Wonderland Publicity & Jupiters Hotel & Casino have flown me to the Sunshine State to sample Kojima’s new restaurant – Kiyomi. As such, the Usual Disclaimer applies.
Chase Kojima may not be a household name in the Gold Coast, but in Sydney, he’s known by anyone invested in Japanese cuisine. Head Chef of The Star’s Sokyo Restaurant, his innovative flair and willingness to incorporate elements that transcend Japanese cooking tradition has solidified his position as head honcho of one of Sydney’s best Japanese restaurants. For this always-hungry blogger, Sokyo is my absolute favourite spot for Japanese in Sydney (price considerations notwithstanding).
You can imagine then, that when I was invited by Jupiters Hotel & Casino to sample Kiyomi, Kojima-san’s newest venture. I was replying yes so hard and fast, I booked the wrong fights!
I must admit, I did wonder why this Sydney-watered chef decided to open up new (and quite significant) digs in the Gold Coast. Turns out that The Star Casino and Jupiters Casino are both under the banner of Echo Management Group. Ahh, synergy. And, of course, an excuse to go on a weekend getaway. For this particular adventure, I decided to treat the Mothership.
As you may have gathered from the pictures, Jupiters Hotel is an impressive resort, more than worthy of hosting a restaurant like Kiyomi. It somewhat reminds me of The Star. I was informed by our limo driver (yeah, that happened) that it has undergone a paint job from a beige/cream-like, to a white colour. I was also informed that there are many internal transformations being undertaken, the most pertinent being the construction of a 6-star resort tower, coming in at $345 million.
That is a lot of sushi money, just saying. When finished, Jupiters may truly live up to its planetary namesake.
While we’re on the topic of naming, Kiyomi is, according to Wikipedia:
A “Japanese citrus fruit that is a hybrid (Citrus unshiu × Citrus sinensis) of a Miyagawa Wase mikan and a Citrus sinensis orange”.
Sorry guys, you’ll have to do even more Googling now, but suffice to say it’s sweeter and less citric than most other citrus fruits. How’s that for a food lesson?
Jupiters as a venue itself is no slouch, our rooms are nicely furnished, and the common areas are quite spacious, with plenty of natural light allowed in through the translucent roofing.
Kiyomi sits above ground level, above Jupiters’ more family-friendly Spinners Restaurant. The casino also has another fancy Italian restaurant called Cucina Vivo; another day!
Astute readers have probably figured it out – an immediate problem manifests itself as a result of the open-air design of the restaurant. Any noise will make its way in, with almost no impedance. At night, this means loud music from the casino, and general noise from the crowds below – Spinners gets really popular at night, be prepared to fine dine at Kiyomi with the noise levels of a hawker market.
The mothership and I didn’t actually mind this too much, but for those with a focus on occasion dining, this is something to watch for.
Food photographer concern: like Sokyo, Kiyomi shares the same finesse of decorum…as well as its mastery of poor lighting. Actually, Kiyomi is a bit worse, as it’s a harsh yellow flouro. Only a concern for food bloggers – move along, regular food appreciators!
As this was an invitation event, it was expected that levels of service would be through the roof. Indeed, our waiter Shane treated us with the utmost attention – I can’t vouch for a regular dining experience. That said, I have a good level of confidence from the looks of staff attentively waiting on many other tables in the vicinity.
I’ve said it time and time again, but drinking is just not part of my mojo. My blog isn’t called I’m Still Thirsty, after all. Then again, when you throw a combination of Kirin, Apple and citrus-y Mikan (mandarin), you get a refreshing cider that’s quite the invigorating pairing with the meal.
Despite that, I finished it all too quickly – before the first three courses were even plated! That’s my problem with drinks that aren’t water. I really am still thirsty.
It’s alright though, because Shane somehow, through the magic of whatever he was charisma, convinced us to get a premium sake flight. Good things come in threes and these magic rice wines are no exception….
…for a sake lover. I readily admit I’m not an alcohol connoisseur, so these three sakes all tasted of get-me-crunk. That said, I could discern notable differences between the three kinds. I’m not a bad blogger, just fraudulent.
The servings were Yoshinogawa Ginjo Gokujo, Dewazakura Omachi Junmai Ginjo & Koshu (aged sake).
In any case, when it comes to sake, I advise the reader to take into account their own tastes – communicate with your server on your particular preferences and they will be sure to take your requirements into account.
Oh, we’re having food now? I’m Still Hungry’s back in the house. Food at Kiyomi is a la carte, Izakaya-style, with dishes designed to be shared. As a general rule of thumb, portions are on the small side, with average spend likely to be $80-$110pp for about 8 dishes. We got 14, but uh, I’m Still Hungry?
One of my favourite starters at Kojima’s Sokyo is the edamame w/seven spice, soy & bonito flakes. You can get vanilla edamame without these trimmings for $3 less, but you want to do better than every other Japanese restaurant out there.
Get these. Spicier, more flavoursome, and an added textural element from dancing bonito flakes. Sometimes, you just need to go for everything including the kitchen sink.
While I was browsing through the menu, I was very much hoping Sokyo’s signature dengakuman miso cod would be on the menu. It is Sokyo’s best a la carte dish; I would be I’m Still Sad if it wasn’t on Kiyomi’s menu in some fashion.
Luckily, we have a contender – dengakuman miso toothfish is here to save the night! Instead of using cod, Kojima’s decided to use Glacier 51 toothfish for Kiyomi’s rendition of this classic dish.
The first thing that struck me was how small the portions looked. This is a combination of both the relatively much larger plate the toothfish sit on, as well as the actual size being literally smaller than the ones you’d get at Sokyo.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t put off a good impression. At $37, you don’t want to be thinking “man, this doesn’t feel like it’s worth my money”. I completely understand that Glacier 51 toothfish is actually really expensive, so upping the portion size is probably not an option. What can be done is to change the plating. At Sokyo, a rectangular plate that’s not much bigger than the dimensions of miso cod is used, which maintains decent proportions in presentation.
It might seem like a cop-out, but impressions do matter. Three brown dots on a field of white doesn’t do the fish justice.
Because really, they’re absolutely terrific in flavour and taste. That was almost going to be a given. Patagonian Toothfish (aka Glacier 51) is one of the best pieces of the sea you can put in your mouth. Its soft and buttery, yet layered and defined texture is unique to this particular species. Kojima is all about using the best produce, and this shines like a bright yellow beacon.
Kojima’s classic miso sauce is number two in the one-two punch that nails the dish. Umami is here, there, and everywhere. It’s a bit saltier than what I remember at Sokyo, but nevertheless, I would still drop $37 to re-order this.
Pure and simple, a must-have. It just needs to be proportioned better.
Another one of my Sokyo faves are the miso lamb chops w/plum wine & eggplant. It’s presented differently here at Kiyomi, but the flavour and texture remain roughly the same. The lamb is cooked pink, retaining all of its softness, with only some areas where extraneous tendons introduce toughness.
And of course, it makes miso happy.
This is quite a heavy dish, so I’d recommend for it to be ordered later in the meal. Also, I’d advocate not to have more than two – it’s a filling plate of meat! It was a bit odd that we got this dish before all our lighter starters. I’m a little worried about regular diners that receive this incorrect dish ‘flow’.
Sokyo’s lamb chops may have a slight edge here, but I’m not complaining too much, you put Kojima’s sauce on pretty much anything and I’ll declare it the bee’s knees.
For a lighter, starter-like dish, the hiramasa kingfish & miso ceviche is the choice pick. Once again, this dish has Sokyo roots, and if you’re wondering why everything is pretty much “Sokyo did it first”, it’s because you don’t need to fix what isn’t broken.
The kingfish ceviche is another example of drastically different textures that just work. The somewhat velvety and slippery textures of kingfish contrast sharply with the crispiness of the fried potato “mini-fritters”. It’s great fun to eat, and quite delicious too – because miso, that’s why. You’re never going to feel like there’s enough – sharing is overrated, right?
When it comes to nigiri, one typically thinks of a piece of fish atop a small bed of slightly compacted white rice. Imagine my surprise when I was first introduced to Sokyo’s crispy rice & spicy tuna nigiri. This was one of my favourite pieces of nigiri from Sokyo’s omakase, so it was a no-brainer that I had to order it again.
Spicy tuna is good enough by itself already. But, when you put that on top of a chuck of half-sticky, half-crunchy, all-umami & spicy rice which, when bitten into, reveals a still-warm interior surrounded by that delicious crunch…
I’m going to stop here because my keyboard might become non-functional from the drool that’s coming out right now.
If you like rice and if you like fish, do yourself a favour. Drool a little. Order this one.
As I’m basically creating a custom degustation taken directly from Kojima’s highlight reel, why not follow with his best tempura – the Moreton Bay Bug w/sambal mayo & vinegar?
Sokyo/Kiyomi’s tempura is unlike other tempuras I’ve had. The batter is deliberately made with a higher water content, which evaporates when it’s cooked. This creates an airier texture than ordinary tempura batter, but it is far more difficult to cook as there’s a great deal more splatter & breakage.
As the diner, I say kudos to Kojima, and totally worth the effort. I’ve not found a superior tempura in this country as of yet.
The Moreton Bay Bug variant of tempura is the highlight tempura dish as it’s Moreton Bay Bug, and provisioned are two types of dipping condiments. The sambal mayo is full of punchy, spicy flavour, endorsed for those into flavour-gasms. The vinegar is a special kind of sweet vinegar, so it’s almost like a sour-like apple cider. Very refreshing and works well with the light tempura batter.
Being the pigs we are (hey, I’m Still Hungry runs in the family), we decided to get another tempura dish in the form of cuttlefish. This was pretty good as well, owing to that batter. The texture of the cuttlefish itself is not as nice though – I prefer a less resistant seafood in my tempura. I’d say you can get by with just the Moreton Bay Bug. Only the best will do!
A special at Kiyomi during the period of our visit, we have in front of us expertly grilled king prawns w/Peruvian glaze. The prawns are butterflied into halves, with the meat easily pried out from their shells.
The prawns are cooked pretty much perfectly, with nary a tendency to the softer side. I’m not sure what Peruvian glaze is, it tasted like a yuzu-style citrus dressing with a buttery finish. I think I found it overall a bit too sour for my liking, but the portion size was just about right to keep it enjoyable. A dish better enjoyed for its texture than its flavour.
Another Kiyomi-only special on the night we went is crispy quail w/dehydrated oyster mushroom & truffled egg. This was one of the best dishes of the night. Any fears of the quail cooked improperly were quickly allayed with its tender flesh and pungently addictive seasoning.
Crunchy textures are delivered from an unlikely source of oyster mushroom “chips” (those orange bits in the dish). This is how I want to enjoy my mushrooms!
Last but not least, the entire dish is held together by the bed of truffled egg that it sits on. This is a decadent egg mayo, to say the least. For the first time tonight, I was glad the portion size was too small – this ain’t no weight-watchers ingredient we’re talking about here.
If this ever made it onto the menu at either Sokyo or Kiyomi again, I would definitely re-order this one.
At this juncture, the mothership and I were feeling pretty good with ourselves. All dishes have been quite delicious, with only minor nitpicks to point out for the sake of disclosure. Feeling like we could stretch our luck, we opted for a most simple umami hit – miso soup.
I’d say park that $6 elsewhere. The miso soup at Kiyomi is a non-order for us. We couldn’t tell any discernible difference between this and any other decent miso soup we’ve had in other restaurants. There also wasn’t any seaweed, which is a real downer.
Still, if you like miso soup and absolutely must have it, Kiyomi can provide.
What, you thought we were done? Thought the miso soup was our last straw before desserts? Please, you and I clearly have not had a meal together.
Indeed, no meal at a Chase Kojima restaurant is complete without sushi. We didn’t actually want to stuff ourselves with a full nigiri set, despite our strongest temptations. As such, I only opted for some grilled unagi (eel) and tamagoyaki (egg) sushi to finish off.
While the texture of unagi was spot on melt-in-your-mouth, I found the flavour to be too sweet for what I’m used to. There was not as much saltiness/umami as I’d have expected. The sugars in the sauce was a bit too much.
The tamagoyaki on the other hand – bingo. Just like I remember at Sokyo. Egg sushi is a great way to finish off a meal 😉
Whoops. Sorry. I really am. I’m probably causing a lot of you guys to develop trust issues. Problem is, I couldn’t ignore my stomach. I just couldn’t…
…I just had to order another special on Kiyomi’s menu – the salmon & scallop roll w/corn, bonito mayo & sweet soy glaze. That’s a lot of ingredients for a sushi roll, for a whole lot of flavour.
Overall, I’m quite satisfied with this roll. There’s a lot going on, but the overall taste was quite nice. I particularly liked the occasional surprise crunch of sour corn kernels embedded in the sushi.
If this is on a special menu, I would say it’s worth getting, but it’s not a must-order.
Ok, we’re finally done…with the savoury dishes.
Due to the nature of the lighting at Kiyomi (i.e., terrible), I could really only get this overhead shot of our dessert platter before elements began to melt.
On the left is Kojima’s signature dessert creation – goma street. It’s a play on ‘sesame street’ (goma = sesame in Japanese), as it is a black sesame ice cream with tempered dark chocolate discs and white chocolate mousse. It’s textural sweet heaven. Yes, a must-order.
The middle dessert is called apple jack – it involves confit apple, gingerbread, honey ice cream & Jack Daniel’s foam. This is a very refreshing dessert, with a quirky hit of alcoholism from our mate J.D. I particularly liked the honey ice cream – that was the go-to element for me.
The last dessert on the right is mango shiso – mascarpone & yoghurt cream, shiso meringue, toasted milk powder & mango sorbet. Along the lines of the rest of the platter, it’s all quite refreshing. The shiso meringue brings forth nice splashes of green while the mango sorbet delivers on a palate cleansing feel.
We were treated to an accompanying umeshu sake to go along with our desserts. I figured this would be akin to a dessert wine, so I happily obliged.
I have to admit, this was not to my palate – it’s far too strong, and I felt a bit woozy just downing a small sip. Blame my nil tolerance, for sure. Experienced sake fans can totally apply.
I was quite surprised at just how good Kiyomi was. I have heard from a few birds who visited before me that have found it to be just average, and as such I lowered my expectations accordingly.
The result? They were smashed out of the water. If you plated a Sokyo dish and then Kiyomi’s rendition of the dish and told me to sample both blindfolded, I honestly would not be able to tell which is the better dish half the time. Kojima has hired a very capable chef – Shintaro Kosugi – to man the helms at Kiyomi. Kudos, Kosugi-san.
Thus, for the most part, Kiyomi is nearly as good, or more or less indistinguishable from Sokyo. Some dishes are unique to Kiyomi, which is most welcome. After all, Gold Coast residents have to have some bragging rights! Sokyo, say hi to your little sister!
Two more snaps from our Jupiters stay below:
Broadbeach is much prettier than I remembered it to be. There are rivers everywhere, it’s almost like an Australian version of Venice, geographically speaking.
Jupiters Hotel has its own monorail station. There’s a walking path which is to the left of the picture, should you prefer it. Both put you within a mere minutes walk from Broadbeach itself.
This post is based on a paid-for visit to Kiyomi @ Jupiters Hotel & Casino. I’m Still Hungry’s flights, accommodation and meal was paid for. My mother paid for her own flights. Her accommodation and meal were covered by Jupiters Hotel & Casino.
- Welcome to Sokyo II
- Gold Coast residents have just lost a reason to fly to Sydney
- Some dishes went too extreme on flavours for my liking
- Heavier dishes arrived before lighter ones (flow issues)
- The open-air environment allows in every sound in the casino
I have a new scoring system! Read all about it here.
Most important takeaway – three separate scores for food, service and ambiance to give the final score. The new system is not compatible with any score given prior to 11/11/2014.
F7.5 | A1.5