10A Frank Street
Labrador QLD 4215
+61 7 5532 4831
Labrador. A suburb on the Gold Coast that’s famous for, well, nothing. Its close proximity to
Smackport Southport means that many tourists and overly sheltered locals stay away from it. But if they knew that Labrador is home to one of the nicest Japanese restaurants in Goldy, I’m sure they’d come in droves.
Heiroku Sushi is located just off the Gold Coast Highway, in a quiet court that houses a Chinese restaurant and several vacant stores with ‘FOR LEASE’ signs plastered across their stained windows. Heiroku opened during Gold Coast’s halcyon era, in 1967, where the beaches were full, the girls were less tacky and the investors were coming in droves. Thus, given Gold Coast’s crappy economy it’s surprising to see such places still standing.
I probably wouldn’t have heard of Heiroku if it weren’t for my reader, Kewyn, a Gold Coast boy. After I told him that I loved Maruya, he urged me to try Heiroku and with that, I dragged Marty over there for lunch despite his protests. ‘WAH WAH WAH, why do we always have to try new places? WAH WAH WAH, what’s wrong with eating at our favourite places? WAH WAH WAH I bet this Kewyn guy is wrong.’
He soon shut up not long after.
Heiroku is, first and foremost, a sushi train restaurant. Here, little plastic plates topped with very reasonably priced goodies ($2-$6 a plate) cruise on a conveyor belt around the dining room – kind of like the Broadbeach monorail but more useful. In addition to selecting your dishes from the ‘train,’ the option to order off the a la carte menu is also there.
We started off simple with the salmon nigiri. The salmon was surprisingly fresh and at $2, there really wasn’t any reason NOT to select it.
Then we had our obligatory ‘non-authentic’ sushi, the teriyaki chicken roll ($3). It’s not something I’d be quick to order at sushi stalls but I didn’t mind this one as it was so tasty.
Marty loves squid sushi so he was delighted to see it on the menu ($3). Although he prefers the squid sushi at Maruya (‘it’s fresher there,’ he reckons), this wasn’t bad given the price.
We also ordered a serving of assorted sashimi off the menu ($9), which featured the obligatory triumvirate of tuna, kingfish and salmon. Although I did find the kingfish fillets a bit ‘pongy’, I thought the other two were beautiful.
Our aburi salmon with onion ($4) wasn’t bad but to be honest, I only ordered it because I saw all that sauce and it reminded me of takoyaki. It was probably my least favourite dish but only because the others were so good.
Better were the crab meat croquettes (two for $3) which were beautifully crispy on the outside and packed with a luscious creamy filling. I did find the use of patty pan to hold the sauce and the lettuce a bit odd though.
My favourite dish, however, had to be the udon noodle soup with tempura prawn which is made to order and costs $9 for a standard bowl. What I really loved about Heiroku Sushi was the fact that a lot of their more substantial dishes come in half sizes so that diners can have more room in their stomach to sample the other dishes. This beautiful bowl of soup noodles, for example, was $5.
What made this the best udon noodle soup I’ve ever tasted was the sweet, sweet broth that was peppered with all manners of umami – and not the MSG type either. There was a perfect balance between the kombu and the dashi, while you couldn’t get more springy udon noodles elsewhere on the Gold Coast. As for the tempura prawn? It remarkably stayed crispy while it was in the broth. I knew I should have ordered a normal-sized bowl.
Given that we normally eat like crazy people, we were surprised that we were full after only ordering a small variety of dishes. Then again, we did consume our share of post-workout supplements that morning and those things apparently suppress appetites. In the end, we paid only a smidgen over $30 for two including soft drinks, making Heiroku one of the best value places to get Japanese food on the Gold Coast despite its faded decor and inconvenient location.