Food review: Iku Yakitori Bar

1730 Gold Coast Hwy (front entrance) or from Justin Lane, Ph: 07 5568 7300

You could easily miss Iku Yakitori if you had not learned its location from locals in the know. The only dedicated yakitori bar on the Gold Coast is hidden away behind fabric lined doors, just like a special present that comes gift wrapped. Each evening as the sun sets, small tables and chairs are placed outside the front door as a signal that the venue is open for business. Its recycled timber back entrance is lit by a blue neon light spelling Iku in Kanji.

Opened by Nerissa and Mitch McCluskey in 2017, in 2019 Iku gained a new owner, Mitch Chesterton, who cites the intrigue of the venue and romance as two of the reasons for his purchase of Iku; the place of his first date with his girlfriend.

The venue is divided into two parts: the restaurant, where only the Omakase menu is available (literally translated as ‘Leave it to the chef’, or ‘As the chef desires’) and the whisky bar at the rear of the venue where you have an additional option of ordering single dishes from the yakitori bar menu (at two skewers for $10). Both sections are atmospherically intimate and moody, making it great date night territory. In all, Mitch says, Iku’s pretty close to a Japanese yakitori bar, except it’s larger.

Iku gives Chef Yusuke Ito (ex-Ten Japanese, Etsu and Beachside Pavilion) a chance to show both his expertise and creative flair, especially in the Omakase menu, which we sample. Following a pattern, the components of the Omakase menu change weekly according to seasonal and available produce available from small local producers. This degustation-styled meal is made available for a select group of diners to try and comment on each Tuesday ‘development’ night for $50pp, then continued during the rest of the week at $70pp.

When we visit, we enjoy fresh cobia sashimi from Rocky Point Aquaculture with mandarin sauce, squid ink and wasabi, accompanied by a sensational yuzu, asparagus and crab soup that’s to die for. An additional delicacy is Tsukemono, the Wagyu of fish – fatty tuna belly, a delicacy flown in from Japan that I decide is definitely an acquired taste. Next comes chicken tenderloins and asparagus as our yakitori, then Black Angus beef karaage arrives with a Prawn poke style rice.

Fortunately, we’re taking it slow, because our Confit salmon in squid ink is a ripper. Falling apart at the touch of a fork it’s perfectly cooked and lusciously moist; a dish I’d return to the restaurant to eat again and again. It’s accompanied by a bowl of Scallop Udon noodle salad.

Dessert is a chocolate ganache with mixed berries, made with Yamasaki 12-year-old whisky. Scrumptious!

Sidle into Justin Lane behind Iku, past the blue neon sign and through the wooden door frame into the bar, for a night to remember.

NOTE: Blank GC dined as a guest of Iku Yakitori.

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