Some people travel to see the world. Others to learn new languages. And some people travel to eat. Restaurateur Simon Gloftis falls into the latter category. His extensive travels to Japan – and the memorable meals he enjoyed there – provided the inspiration for his latest endeavour in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley: Sushi Room.
Sushi Room is Gloftis' fourth venue in James Street precinct, following Hellenika, SK Steak and Oyster, and new neighbourhood eatery, Sunshine.
"To grow my mini restaurant group in that [James Street] area makes sense, because I'm like a kid in a candy store there," he says. "I love being able to use all my creativity while having the backing of something like James Street."
Sushi Room has a broad remit. The 80-seat restaurant and bar is in a custom space within the Calile Hotel – metres from the elevators, so guests can drift upstairs to bed post-feed. The minimalist, stone-walled interiors are in line with James Street's tropical brutalist aesthetic, while also borrowing a number of elements from traditional Japanese design.
The standout feature is a deluxe mezzanine with a ten-seat private sushi counter. The bar is crafted from imported hinoki wood – a luxury timber native to East Asia that's culturally significant in Japan; often used in the construction of temples.
The menu – based around seafood and sushi, of course – is designed to suit a range of occasions and budgets. At the top-end, there'll be a $300 18-course omakase. An a la carte menu with more affordable options will be available for something more casual.
Tuna toro, kingfish, shime saba (cured mackerel), and Gloftis' personal favourite, the alfonsino, will all feature prominently. Shimpei Raikuni, the former sous chef at Chase Kojima's Koyumi on the Gold Coast, is Sushi Room's head sushi chef.
For drinks, sake and Japanese whiskies and beers dominate, with an Old World, French-heavy wine list.
"It's is all about the quality, the simplicity, and the elegance of Japanese cuisine," says Gloftis. "I want people to visit Sushi Room and have a beautiful and memorable piece of sushi, and to crave to that taste and feeling again from the moment they leave."
Sushi Room is expected to open in the middle of the year.