First look at new Burleigh Japanese restaurant
We can thank an epiphany during a silent meditation retreat for Burleigh Heads' new Japanese bar and restaurant, an izakaya-style venue paying homage to okonomiyaki and gyoza. Check out what it has to offer.
Oi Izakaya, tucked away in a James Street Arcade foodie hub, opened last week and is the brainchild of two mates Troy O'Shea and Steven Thompson.
"We met doing triathlons," Troy says. "We always wanted to do something like this together.
"About 12 months ago I was living in Canada and Steve came out of a meditation retreat, calls me and says we're going to open an okonomiyaki restaurant.
"I guess he found a bit of clarity. So we started to get the ball rolling and we just went full steam ahead when I returned to Australia."
Troy says he wasn't fazed by his mate's call to arms - both men were ready for a new direction.
"Steven's a lawyer, and law wasn't doing it for him anymore," Troy says.
"It was a stable sort of job, but he wanted to put his energy into something that brought a smile to people's faces.
"I've worked a little bit in hospitality - I've just done three years in the cafe scene in Canada, but previous to that I had my own plumbing business and personal training business. It's a bit of a different one to me."
Their passion for Japanese culture was ignited during snowboarding trips , where they couldn't get enough of the country's famous savoury pancake.
"We were snowboarding during the day, having an onsen (traditional bath) in the afternoon, and okonomiyaki for dinner with a couple of beers," Troy says.
"We love the people, love the culture, love the food and drinks of Japan, and the care they take with everything.
"The menu (at Oi) is very tasty Japanese food. We're focusing on bigger meals with okonomiyaki and gyoza, and shareable small plates and bigger plates.
"Our head chef's from Tokyo, he's a fourth-generation sushi chef.
"It is fairly comforting food, but we're at the Gold Coast so we want to put a healthy spin on it too. We'll have sashimi options and a couple of fresh salads on the menu, just to balance things out.
"We're also going to toy with the idea of a sushi burger with sashimi and avocado, topped with seaweed."
The izakaya inspiration is reflected in the fit-out and range of refreshments - a moody, dark timber watering hole reflecting the casual after work drinking and dining venues found throughout the Asian island state.
Troy says they called on the help of a "sake master" to curate the drinks list.
"We had help from a friend, Adam, he's done courses in sake," Troy says.
"There's a lot of great whiskeys we've sourced through suppliers and through us travelling there and bringing a lot back.
"The Japanese whiskeys, they're pretty much the best whiskey in the world.
"We've got a good range of sakes to go with different food, and we've made a really good cocktail list also. In each cocktail there's something Japanese, either the whiskey, or Japanese fruit like yuzu, or rice syrups. It's all tasting really good."
With the energy of two men finding their calling reverberating off the walls, a few sakes at Oi and you too might realise your own purpose. It's worth a shot.
Oi Izakaya is open Wednesday to Sunday at 4/30 James St, Burleigh Heads.