We’d been meaning to make a visit to Yuuga for quite awhile and finally got around to it a couple of weeks ago. We’ve been there twice since (thrice for James) and have consistently been impressed by both the quality and the presentation of their dishes. Their dinner menu is colourful, extensive and well-organised. They also have a more modest lunch menu available between 11:30am and 2pm.
We had quite a number of dishes over the handful of visits we made. If you are minding your wallet, this place can be quite pricey if you don’t watch what you order; the bill can very quickly add up here, especially since they have a lot of delicious-looking things on their dinner menu that are hard to ignore! The following is just a taste of what we ordered (and consequently enjoyed).
Tsukune (3 pieces for $9.80)
These tsukune are essentially gorgeously cooked minced chicken and bamboo shoot patties smothered in a very nice sauce and sprinkled with white sesame seeds. While the sauce was indeed strong and flavoursome, it thankfully didn’t overpower the taste of the chicken patties. The patties themselves were perfect; firm in texture but not rubbery or dry. But now that I think about it, perhaps three pieces of tsukune aren’t quite worth the $9.80 you pay.
Agedashi Tofu (3 pieces for $8.80)
Apparently a Yuuga specialty, they have concocted their own version of the agedashi tofu, with three pieces of lightly fried tofu squares in a sweet ginger soy sauce, topped with crispy green beans, pumpkin slices and lightly sprinkled with crushed peanuts. I found this combination very interesting. The vegetable toppings gave the dish a different touch. While not something you typically see (I’m used to spring onions and nori flakes as garnishing), it was a wonderful addition to the traditional agedashi tofu. The tofu pieces themselves had a soft, creamy interior and a light, chewy coating.
Gyoza (5 pieces for $6.80)
These minced pork and vegetable pan-fried dumplings were pretty good. In my opinion, they come in a close second to the Hakataya Noodle Shop’s succulent gyoza. The texture of the wrappers were nice, but could have been a little crispier on the bottom. Also, they could have been a bit juicier on the inside (that’s what makes Hakataya’s gyoza so darn good). Nonetheless, they they were still lovely. And reasonably priced.
Karaage Chicken (5 pieces for $9.80)
These marinated deep-fried chicken pieces come with some salad on the side. I really appreciated the size of the chicken pieces. They were generously big and meaty, with a nice even coating that wasn’t overly floury or overcooked. Definitely better than, say, Sushi Train’s karaage, but not quite as juicy or flavoursome as Uchouten’s.
Teba – Fried Chicken Wings in Teriyaki Sauce (3 pieces for $7.80)
When you order fried chicken wings at Yuuga, you get a choice of either spicy sauce or teriyaki sauce to go with them. We went with the teriyaki and were not disappointed. Although a little too salty, the sauce definitely packed a delicious punch. The wings came perfectly cooked with some interesting garnish on top. This was probably one of my favourite items on the menu, though I’d quite like to try the spicy sauce wings next time.
Mixed Sashimi (11 pieces for $26)
Yuuga’s standard mixed sashimi platter comes with three chunks each of fresh tuna, salmon and kingfish, as well as two scallops adorned with tobiko (flying fish roe). These were very fresh. Everything on the platter was kept cold thanks to the ice bowl underneath. And the portion sizes of the fish were impressive; they gave us firm, thick, generous slices.
New-Style Sushi Set (9 pieces for $32)
This modern-style sushi set was a visual feast in itself. Mainly because, as you can see, these aren’t your typical everyday nigiri-zushi! This dish gets an A+ for the presentation of each item. A colourful array of culinary delights, each individual piece of sushi clearly has its own theme going on. And the little finishing touches on each one (from the little spurts of sauce to the carefully laid bits of garnishing) gives you an idea of how time-consuming the crafting of this platter must be.
Yuuga Delux Kaiseki Bento ($42)
The Yuuga Delux Kaiseki Bento is a large lunchbox meal that includes the following: grilled cod marinated in saikyo miso, seven thick slices of sashimi, three pieces of flame-seared nigiri, a serving of tender wagyu beef, tempura, miso soup and a choice of dessert. Everything is done perfectly, so this is definitely something you’d want to get if you were looking for a big meal with a variety of yummy things to keep your dinner interesting.
Yuuga Gozen ($38)
The Yuuga Gozen is a meal that includes lots of sashimi, tempura, a small serving of Japanese style simmered pork, pot-steamed hotchpotch (chawanmushi), mixed sushi (or grilled eel in sweet soy sauce, if you prefer) on rice, miso soup and a choice of dessert. My favourite out of the lot was the chunks of Japanese-style simmered pork, which sat in a lip-smackingly delicious sauce and was gorgeously tender and soft and fatty and juicy.
Black Sesame Ice Cream ($4.80)
Their black sesame ice cream is sprinkled with kinako (roasted soybean flour) and served with some whipped cream and a chocolate-filled wafer roll. Other flavours you can choose include vanilla and green tea, and they all come in small ($4.80) or medium ($6.80).
Something slightly more interesting than a standard scoop of ice cream, Yuuga’s zenzai is made up of glutinous rice flour dumplings and vanilla ice cream sitting in a sweet red bean soup. With a simple yet lovely presentation, the position of the ice cream in the middle of the circle of dumplings was a nice touch. The ice cream cut through the earthiness of the red bean and the chewy dumplings balanced out the sweetness of the other two components. A very nice way to finish a meal.
All in all, I think we can say that Yuuga scores a lot of points in the presentation department. All the charming arrangements and little finishing touches make you really appreciate their attention to detail. With friendly staff and a cosy atmosphere, the restaurant does well in making you feel comfortable. But the most important thing is the quality of their food, which has impressed us greatly. Would we go back? Most definitely.
YUUGA JAPANESE RESTAURANT
38 Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Gold Coast, Queensland, 4217
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 2:00pm & 5:30pm – 9:30pm (Mon-Sun)