Several years ago. My favourite Japanese restaurant of all time - Yamasakura closed as the chef decided to retire. Prior to this I'd been trekking down to the Gold Coast once every several months for the last half decade to get some of the best sushi ever. Since their closure, for the last several years, I've been on the lookout, trying to find something that could be remotely comparable to the joys I've previously had.
Trawling through blogs and reviews online, I found something that looked promising. So last Saturday, I convinced a friend to drive me down to the Gold Coast on my sushi quest.
Following the address, I realised that Animoto was situated in a dingy little alleyway not far from where Yamasakura used to be. My friend was quite concerned that I would take them to what appeared to be a deserted alley where most of the shops were not open (at 11.45 a.m.)
We found the shop after searching for a little while, to find that it had not opened yet. We waited until 12 for it to open. It was lucky we did because by 12.05, there was only one empty table left in the restaurant. A sure indication of how popular it was.
The environment was very homey and reminiscent of yamasakura, which was also a family run business. I noted that aside from our table, everyone else was speaking Japanese, which was a very good sign indeed.
The menu provided was one of the longest I've seen. Consisting of over 20 pages, it had a very extensive range of sushi, sashimi, sets and a la carte. I was very surprised that such a tiny store with a small kitchen could offer such a large variety of food. It took me quite a while to decide what we wanted.
I was pleasantly surprised by the provision of free tea, in both hot and cold variety (all other Japanese restaurants I have been to offer tea for a charge). It was a very warm and comforting barley blend, which I enjoyed immensely.
Before long, our food arrived, all at once, which impressed me greatly. My companion noted that the crockery was mismatched, but I reminded him that as long as everything was hygienic, what is contained within is far more important than the container.
The main size sashimi was deliciously fresh. I loved how large the portion was. All of the fish was fresh, and reasonably thick cut. The tuna was very firm, the salmon had a sweetness to the flesh, but my favourite was the cod, which had a very good texture to it.
The tempura prawns was deliciously fried with a light batter and served with traditional dipping sauce. I was really impressed with the timing of Animoto in serving their food. The prawns were at just the right temperature when served and the size was quite generous.
The Sake - Oyako Don (Salmon and Salmon Roe rice) was the highlight of the meal. It had been a picture of this that drew me to drive down to the gold coast for this meal, and it was so definitely worth it. The salmon don was fresh and deliciously thick cut. Portions were amazingly generous. The cucumbers added a bit of crunch to the dish, and the short grain rice had just the right texture. It came served with a bowl of miso soup. Being quite a fan of miso soup (I have a bowl of instant miso every day at work), I can say that this one tasted like a freshly made bowl. It was absolutely delicious
My friend really enjoyed the shoyu ramen. It had a deliciously light soup with curly egg noodles. He liked it so much that he drank all the soup after eating the noodles! In this day and age, where hakata style ramen is so common, it is pretty hard to find a good tokyo style ramen, which made this experience all the more delightful. The only improvement I would have suggested in this instance was to make the pork a little bit softer, as it tasted a bit tough. Otherwise it was a very very enjoyable bowl of ramen.
Price Range: $20 - $30 pp