24 Orchid Avenue, Surfer's Paradise
My favourite unexpected find during our trip to the Gold Coast last weekend was the little Japanese eatery, Amimoto. Marc and I had lunch at Boom Boom Burgers earlier that day and when we were brainstorming what to eat for dinner, we decided that sushi/sashimi would be light and contrasting.
After a quick look on Zomato to figure out which Japanese eateries were close to us and had a decent reputation, we settled on Amimoto which was only a short stroll away. Amimoto is a tiny 'hole in the wall' eatery located in one of the off-street shopping alleys in Surfer's Paradise. We found it by luck because the sign at the front of the alley entrance only says 'Japanese Restaurant' and we went in on a hunch. Even the actual restaurant itself is plain and unlabelled. I didn't know we were at the correct place until I read 'Amimoto' on the menu.
The restaurant is small with bar seating at the sashimi prep open kitchen and regular table seating elsewhere. There are some Japanese paraphernalia hung up for decoration. Read the story (in English) on the scroll on the wall. It's quite interesting to say the least.
Whilst the restaurant was small, the menu was overwhelmingly comprehensive. It was like a book with multiple sections (sets, rice dishes, shared dishes, sushi, sashimi, noodles) that had many options per section. Marc and I were lost and confused. Everything sounded good. We couldn't even decide if we wanted to order our own set meals or get several dishes to share. In the end we opted for the latter.
Mixed sashimi platter
I had read that the sashimi here was good so we chose a large, mixed sashimi platter to start with. There wasn't a big price difference between the small and large so I'm glad we went for this option. I would have liked to see the chef prepare our sashimi but we were seated too far away. The platter was stunning to behold. The 'usual suspects' of sashimi were all present, with my favourites being salmon and tuna. Something that caught our eye immediately as being a point of difference from other sashimi platters was the mini sashimi rolls. They were as pretty as jewels and also very delicious.
Eel and cucumber sushi roll
Marc and I also ordered two variety of sushi, which were served next. The first was a fresh cucumber and eel roll. It was simple but tasty and not too rich like some eel rolls can be.
Deep-fried prawn sushi roll
I had never tried deep fried sushi before so I was curious about our fried prawn sushi. It wasn't a fried prawn cutlet but rather the whole sushi roll which was battered and fried. It probably defies the point of ever eating sushi for health reasons but it was delicious. Amimoto served our fried sushi with a spicy mayonnaise, which was a perfect match.
The final menu item we ordered was the pork katsudon meal set. This comprised of a crumbed, fried pork cutlet served with egg over a bowl of seasoned rice. What made it a set was the serve of miso soup that accompanied the rice dish. I normally don't enjoy miso soup but I quite liked this one. I don't suppose it tasted too different to any other version so it may just be an example of my taste changing with age or the fact that warm soup always tastes good on a cold night.
The pork cutlet itself was good but overall, the rice dish wasn't harmonious with the rest of the items we ordered. I suggest that's more our own doing than the restaurant's fault. We picked a rice dish to fill us up in case we hadn't ordered enough and it did the trick. This is something more suited to lunch and individual ordering than a shared feast.
Amimoto is exactly the kind of restaurant that Marc and I love eating it. It's fittings are plain but clean but the food was authentic, tasty and inexpensive. Everything was brought out in a timely manner. We remarked that if there was an Amimoto near us in Brisbane, we'd be there at least once a week. Not only did we enjoy our meal, the entire experience was great. The nearly hidden establishment was fun to seek and find and it succeeded in transporting us to Japan. We observed many Japanese customers eating their dinners and debating with the chef in animated Japanese. It was quite atmospheric and added to the authenticity.