Men’s Style meets chef Chase Kojima, currently shaking things up on the Gold Coast dining scene with his restaurant Kiyomi at under-renovation Jupiters hotel and casino.
At the leading edge of the $345 million renovation of the iconic Jupiters Hotel and Casino underway on the Gold Coast is chef Chase Kojima, who opened Kiyomi within its walls earlier this year. The son of a chef, raised in San Francisco, Kojima worked in kitchens round the world before arriving in Australia in 2011 to start the popular Sokyo at The Star in Sydney. With Kiyomi, he brings his modern take on Japanese cuisine to “the Goldie”.
What’s your mission with Kiyomi?
The CEO from our company, Echo Entertainment, said “we’re trying to renovate Jupiters because it hasn’t changed for the last 30 years and we want you to help.” I was totally excited by that idea. My focus is, what can I give to the Gold Coast that they don’t have and might want? Fine dining can get kind of stiff so I ‘ranted that more relaxed feel…it’s not casual but it’s like, I guess, professional casual.
So how would you describe the dining style at Kiyomi?
My style here is more Izikaya or Japanese-style tapas. When I dine out I like to have a lot of dishes, a lot of different flavours, not just entree-main-dessert. You’ll probably have about 10 courses by the time you’ve finished here, including dessert. I’m just trying to give something new to the Gold Coast and help make the hotel a destination once more.
How are you finding the local produce?
What I’ve really noticed is that vegetables and fruit are no much better in Queensland than anywhere else in Australia. I really love Moreton Bay Bugs, and the crayfish here is very special – I’ve never seen it as good anywhere else in the world and I travel quite a bit. I tempura Moreton Bay Bug and it comes out like a cloud – so light and flavourful, very delicate, and nothing like prawns or lobster. It just suits Japanese cooking. Explaining it to Japanese people is funny: yes, it’s a bug.
Has it been a revelation, using local ingredients?
Since I’ve been in Australia we’ve really focused on local produce. When I was travelling, I was always using what was considered the best stuff- seafood from Japan, caviar from Russia… everywhere I went I used the same ingredients but here I’ve learnt new techniques. You can’t cook the same or, with Australian fish. Australians are foodies, really, so you can’t oversauce it. They know how its meant to taste and how it should he cooked so you can’t trick them. I’m so motivated about cooking for people in Australia.
Who is coming to Kiyomi, locals or mainly tourists?
I want it to be about the people who live on the Gold Coast I see a lot of locals and I wasn’t necessarily expecting that. Before we opened Kiyomi we didn’t see a lot of young local people walking around in the hotel but now we see a lot of cool young Gold Coasters, the next generation, and that’s my focus. I want local people to fall in love with our restaurant, not just tourists.
How has your cooking style changed since you’ve been in Australia?
When I opened my first restaurant in Sydney I was a nobody and I didn’t get very good press. It was all along the lines of, Sydney doesn’t need another Japanese restaurant, he’s not even Australian, forget this guy. And I was kissing ass to everyone -like me, like me! As a result my flavours were all over the place because I was trying to catch everyone’s attention. Now I’ve toned it down a lot. I go for less complicated … concentrating on getting the right produce, finding the right complement for it, then just cooking it very nicely.