Posts Categorized: Gold Coast

Shimbashi: finding gold on the coast

The best and best value food in Surfers Paradise has long been the tiny Korean and Japanese joints hidden in its low-rent 1970s shopping malls. But it is also worth escaping the main tourist drags for Chevron Island where soba Master Yoshinory Shibazaki & his wife Keiko are bringing Japanese food on the Gold Coast to a new level. The restaurant Shimbashi Soba on Chevron is a local manifestation of the well-known and reviewed (even by those who really know Japanese food) Jugemu & Shimbasi in Neutral Bay. The first clue that this restaurant, which has been opened for just a year, may be something special is the grinder and the stone bench top in the window. Daily flour is ground from Tasmanian organic buckwheat and soba noodles are made in the traditional manner. The second clue that this place is good is the number of Japanese eating there. The menu advertising the health-giving properties of the soba noodle, the fact that it lowers blood pressure, strengthens capilliaries, reduces cholesterol, has high vitamin C, reduces fat in the liver and slows ageing of the brain. The food is also an absolute bargain, possible one of the best cheap eats you’ll find in Australia. In the summer humidity of southern Queensland we opted for a can of cold tea each – green and oolong. There is Sapporo on tap and a small list of good saki and sochu by the glass and bottle. While soba and udon are the speciality there also are other dishes. We started with six room temperature pieces of salmon sushimi ($12) and two pieces of tempura Crystal Bay prawn ($6) that are almost a match to Tempura Hajime in Melbourne. A huge $13 bowl of Oroshi – cold soba with grated radish and wakame – that Jak couldn’t finish. I was warned that my Taromi ($15) contained fermented soy beans with a strong flavour. It was delicate and with a strange but enticing sticky texture, thin sticky slices of okra and cold soba. It also serves many dishes on the traditional zaru, a sieve-like bamboo tray. This is a place where you can easily eat well for under $20 and worth the diversion, even if its a two hour flight to Queensland. The most annoying thing of all is that I discovered this place only a few days before I leave for India. I’m double posting… Read more »

Charlie’s fingers aren’t what they used to be

As far as the culinary history of the Gold Coast goes the pineapple, bacon and cheese (you might add banana to the mix) fingers at Charlie’s should be icons. When Charlie’s opened on Cavill Avenue in 1976 I’m told it didn’t look as smart as it does now but the fingers were a favourite. And just as the cafe – restaurant is too strong a word – has been made over so have the fingers but for the worse. When I first holidayed in Australia in 1988 it was to Charlie’s that Jak took me after a good shag at the Sheraton in Brisvegas. It was then that my glamourous dreams of what is called Surfers Paradise were shattered. I was introduced to what I now know is a perpetual building site. I travelled to Queensland to chase the woman I loved because I was entranced with stories of the bananas and passion fruit her parents grew in their back garden. It didn’t take long after arriving to realise that everybody grew bananas and passion fruit in their backgardens but I was sold on the Charlie’s fingers, a snack inspired by the Hawaiian pizza that speaks volumes about the food preferences of tropical Queensland. Our eastern european waitress deserves full marks for thoughtfully bending over in front of me to give a grandstand view of her more than ample cleavage. “Savignon Blank” (Sauvignon Blanc) she confirmed, the staple of wine lists on the coast, Jak ordering Australia’s best selling wine Oyster Bay which is made by new Zealanders. We also ordered a full $14.50 serve ($17 odd with 15% holiday mark-up) of “Charlie’s famous fingers”. Two saucers soon arrived for us to eat our fingers from plus the bill, held in place from the breeze by a single paper tube of sugar. The Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc was everything we expected of it. Acid yet sweet and tropical fruity, almost the embodiment of the Natural Confectionery Company sour treats in liquid form. This isn’t a good thing in wine which also had the volatile aroma of nail polish remover. I can’t think of a food I’d match it with although it may go well with a TV show such as A Current Affair. The fingers were not what we remembered or expected. I realised how cynical the tourist restaurants in Surfers had become. Two pieces of toast covered with diced… Read more »