15 Davenport St
Southport QLD 4215
+61 7 5527 1199
Southport, Queensland. It is officially Gold Coast’s CBD; home to many high-rises, regional headquarters of companies, the court house and Australia Fair, their main shopping centre. Although it’s not as vibrant as a lot of city centres around Australia (for example, you really have to head down to Surfers Paradise or Broadbeach if you want to explore Gold Coast’s nightlife because there is virtually none in Southport), there are still some things to see and do in Southport.
Like visit their new ‘Chinatown’, for example…
… which is literally a little street, with only, like, one Chinese restaurant in it. And that’s it.
And this is it: A hot pot ‘pub’ that spells ‘personalised’ without an ‘a.’ And it seems like they do massages too.
Among the strange things you find in this town, however, there are some gems in the form of good Korean and Japanese restaurants. And on that same strip known as ‘Chinatown’, there is a small Japanese restaurant that’s popular with the locals and office-workers (may I add here that there was a plethora of easy-on-the-eye Gold Coast hotties in office attire, heh!). After finishing a workout at Fitness First in Southport Central, I ended up hauling my sore ass Maruya, one of Marty’s and our friend, Amiee’s go-to places for cheap and decent Japanese food. With an extensive menu covering all bases – bento boxes, donburi, sushi, sashimi and all – complete with photos, I struggled to choose a dish. Having not had anything substantial to eat for the last 24 hours (no, consuming fried junk all day at Big Day Out the day before and a protein shake post-workout only an hour ago does not count), I wanted to have a great lunch. In the end, I chose a delight bento box ($15) which consisted of miso soup, sashimi, salad and tempura.
I was sitting outside, and barely into that day’s edition of the Courier Mail when my miso soup arrived. It was standard stuff, with a sprinkling of spring onions but sadly no tofu cubes or seaweed.
The salad was a mixture of shredded cabbage with a bit of lettuce and alfalfa sprouts thrown in there too. And the dressing? A sweet pineapple one. I know we’re in Queensland and everything, but I just felt that it was a strange choice of dressing. I love pineapples and all, but the dressing wasn’t the best I’ve ever had – it was certainly too sweet. I would have preferred a sesame based one.
Thankfully, the salmon sashimi did a better job of impressing me. While I thought arranging the four, thick slices of salmon on top of an oyster shell was strange, the freshness of the sashimi made up for it. They were so silky, so smooth and so creamy – I only wished that they gave us more.
I thought the sashimi was good, but surprisingly it was the tempura that proved to be the winner. In the compartment were two massive king prawns, a slice of potato and pumpkin. Not being a fan of pumpkin, I ate that one first before moving onto the others, heh. Surprisingly, though, the pumpkin wasn’t as bad as I thought and I think it was because of the batter which was pretty damn good. It was insanely crunchy, light and airy. Dare I say that it was on par with the batter that Tempura Hajime use in their $72-now-probably-$80/ph tempura set menu in Melbourne. What also impressed me was the way the tempura batter still remained delicious crunchy even after sitting in the tempura dipping sauce for a few minutes (I left half a prawn sitting in the sauce bowl while I retrieved and replied to a few whatsapp messages from Marty who was slaving away at work). Seriously, the tempura was so damn good – eating it was on the same level of awesome as being front row at Foster The People (and being this close to Mark Foster’s sexy arse) at BDO the previous night.
I may not have been terribly impressed with Southport’s lack of prettiness but my lunch at Maruya, except for the salad, made up for it. It would be interesting to see if they develop Gold Coast’s Chinatown further and whether this would mean more great places popping up. In the meantime, I think Maruya is happy being the only decent Japanese restaurant on the strip (and probably all of Southport) for the time being and hey, I don’t blame them.