Casinos. Love them or hate them, they are increasingly are part of the high-end restaurant, hotel offerings and entertainment precincts in many cities around the world. In 2019, James Packer’s Crown will join Echo Entertainment’s the Star in Sydney. And of course, there are always new grand hotels and celubchef restaurants opening on the strip in Las Vegas. Jupiters on Queensland’s Gold Coast is the latest destination casino to go under the knife, as only a Gold Coast lady can: with a splash.
When Jupiters opened at Broadbeach in 1985 it was the place to be seen frequented by more than just the white shoe brigade. As the Gold Coast changed, so did the casino and entertainment precinct. Today, a transformation is taking shape to make Jupiters an entertainment venue and 6-star resort to rival the best.
2016 to 2017 will see the completion of the new Hotel Tower that will also include VIP Gaming facilities and new premium restaurants. The new design is in keeping with the dynamic spaces and up-market sister property, the Star. The $345 million transformation will be completed before the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
2015 sees the refurbishment of the existing 592 hotel rooms and the start of construction of the new 17-storey hotel tower. The 6-star all-suite hotel will feature an infinity pool deck and more outdoor dining.
Two new restaurants – Cucina Vivo and Kiyomi have already opened as part of the first stage. The relaxed Cucina Vivo celebrates the best of traditional Italian dining in Jupiters’ first indoor-outdoor restaurant. Kiyomi is American chef Chase Kojima’s second Australian restaurant, after opening Sokyo at the Star in 2011. And Kiyomi? Not only the name of a Japanese citrus hybrid, it is also Chase’s mother’s name.
Regular TML readers are familiar with Sokyo from our review last October. Chase came to Australia after his quick rise to the top at Nobu in Dubai, London, LA, the Bahamas and of course, Vegas. He has already scored his first hat for Sokyo last year at the Good Food Guide Awards.
The restaurant design by Lucchetti Krelle is perhaps best described as Japanese minimalist but with touches of colour. The fluorescent art installation by Japanese street artist, Houxo Que is in the best spirit of a restaurant within a casino. Perhaps a little less formal then its big sister, the 120-seat Kiyomi’s contemporary design includes Japanese motifs used in unexpected ways like the handmade backlit paper suspended in glass panels within the sushi counter.
The menu is sectioned into Sashimi and Raw, Izakaya and Small Plates, Tempura and Fried, Binchotan and Grill, Sushi and Roll, Traditional Sashimi and Sushi and Salad and Soup as well as Dessert. Menu descriptions are minimalist like the décor. Sharing plates is the best way to tackle the menu.
The drinks list includes a wide choice of Japanese tap and bottled beers, premium sake, cocktails and whiskies. We begin with the not-too-sweet signature cocktail, Chasing Kiyomi – a blend of gin, Grand Marnier, San Pellegrino Mandarin, Orange Bitters and Aperol – a great start.
Chase’s reverence for traditional Japanese cuisine is tempered by many influences including a nod to Mexico and the US. The off-menu amuse is sublime: Shishito Peppers with Lime Miso and Parmigiano Reggiano. The Russian Roulette of who will get the really hot chilli adds to the fun of this beautifully though out dish.
As the Gold Coast is surrounded by a veritable bread basket, the menu reflects the very best of Queensland produce. The visually stunning Seared Scampi with Apple and Mizuna surprises with the empty Scampi shells there merely for the wow factor with the meat, foie gras, and julienne of apple sitting on bamboo leaves over ice.
The Hiramasa Kingfish will be a winner with diners with its crispy potato offering a counterpoint to the delicious fresh fish. Think of it as a delicate, modern Japanese take on Fish & Chips.
The Tuna is prepared in the tataki method – firstly quickly seared and then sliced thinly. Served with asparagus, enoki, tosazu vinegar and leek sauce it looks surprisingly like beef and is pretty as a picture – garnished with micro herbs and tiny flowers and served on a large white platter.
Moreton Bay Bugs get the Tempura treatment – light, crispy and perfectly matched with a sambal mayo or vinegar for dipping. Again, just the right crunch factor to make for a great mouth feel. Next the Dengakuman of caramelized miso Toothfish is sweet, succulent and fall apart tender and is best slowly savoured to enjoy all its Umami goodness.
Also from the Binchotan, a smoky, rare striploin of Wagyu with an incredible 9+ marbling is an absolute joy of tenderness with a little eschalot and spicy teriyaki. Of course there are many options for vegetarians including the delicately flavoured King Brown Mushrooms delicately scored to soak up the earthiness of the fragrant sauce of truffle poke and lime.
Just when you think you can’t possibly eat anymore comes a trio of sushi. The Crispy Rice Spicy Tuna is a textural delight with a serious crunch. The Tai Nori is amazing but with a nod to the Sunshine State Chase has created a Queensland Roll of spanner crab topped with avocado.
Desserts at Kiyomi include a Yatsuhashi of soft glutinous mocha filled with frozen strawberry milkshake, but it’s the Goma Street of tempered dark chocolate, caramelized white chocolate mouse and black sesame ice cream that dazzles on the plate and the tongue.
Kiyomi will be a hit just like Sokyo. Chef Kojima has done it again – tweaking the extensive Sokyo menu to ensure there is something for everyone. This is a serious food experience that brings a new sophistication to Gold Coast dining with the required amount of Zen.