The general rule of thumb in the hospitality industry is that venues should be ‘spiced up’ once every four or five years to keep things interesting. Yamagen, a lasting piece of QT Gold Coast has been a local favourite for over 30 years, and we were invited to see its much-deserved reinvigoration for ourselves during the opening launch.
The reimagined Queensland mainstay has kept its original name but received a comprehensive interior overhaul. This modern Japanese décor has been achieved with QT Collaborator Nic Graham, who made it his mission to create a hive of east and west street culture in the heart of beach territory. The resulting space pays homage to its traditional appearance with a coastal Australian undertone.
This was far more than just a facelift for Yamagen though, with the food and drinks menu also receiving a brand new twist. Headed by Adam Lane, Perry Fuller, Shintaro Kosugi and Sushi Master Mitsuo Yoshino, food came out as part of a reinvented izakaya (bar food) and kushiyaki (grilled share dishes) menu, alongside an a la carte menu.
Yamagen now features three main areas; ‘The Bar,’ ‘The Sushi’ and ‘Table-Seki.’ Each area has its own unique feel with ‘The Sushi’ being its most exclusive. Here, we experienced a chef-lead dining experience with an Omakase menu – including dishes such as Teriyaki Chicken, Jalapeno Hiramasa Kingfish, Spider Uramaki and our personal favourite Sashimi Tacos.
Receiving the biggest upgrade of all areas is ‘The Bar.’ The expanded section has been designed to maintain a laid-back holiday vibe and moulds seamlessly with the rest of the restaurant. Behind it lies one of Queensland’s most extensive collections of Japanese whisky, which includes the Yamakazi 25 Y.O and Hibiki 30 Y.O.
The craftsmanship is incredible with bartenders hand-chiselling ice blocks in order to extend the melt time. A quintessentially Japanese cocktail list has also been curated to pair with particular dishes, as well as containing unique ingredients such as matcha, gyokuro and shisho leaf.
As a whole, the combination of passionate chefs, delicious food and drinks and a brand new interior made visiting Yamagen a well-rounded experience that both new and returning guests will love. While incorporating two totally different cultures into one restaurant isn’t always easy, the dedicated team at QT have made it happen, right in the heart of the Gold Coast.