My meal at Jimmy Wah's starts with a thirst quencher to beat the heat outside. It arrives at the table - a deliciously sour and palest pink Virgin Hello Halong which is made up of lemongrass and ginger tea, coconut water, lemongrass syrup and ginger. The couple at the next table are drinking the alcoholic version. 'Divine, isn't it?' the woman says to me as she orders another.
Jimmy Wah's in Burleigh Heads is a seemingly effortless blend of two cultures. Presiding over the open, airy space is a two-metre wall mural featuring the restaurant's namesake - Jimmy Wah from the classic film Good Morning, Vietnam. The menu is also unmistakably modern Vietnamese. Yet Gold Coast beach culture features prominently too - in the stripped-back, casual vibe, pale wood, sage green seats and proximity to the ocean.
I pull up a stool at the row of seating facing the street - perfect for single diners or those who like to watch the passing parade. I start with the day's special - fresh oysters served with granita, lime and black salt. The experience is one to savour - all salty brine and sweet and sour citrus. Next up is the octopus - muscular, but tender, the tips of its tentacles charred to near-crispiness. It's served with wild rice, which adds texture and interest, and a Thai basil emulsion that offsets the taste of the sea. The sweet potato fries which I order as an afterthought arrive promptly.
The dessert menu is simple and elegant. I choose the fried bao with cinnamon sugar, salted caramel, peanut ice cream and a spring of shiso. The delicious result was something between a doughnut and a caramel sundae. Next time I'll try the coconut and pandan panna cotta.
Bao buns with peanut butter ice cream and shiso leaves. Author image.
If you're looking for the ultimate Sunday indulgence, Jimmy Wah's offers a six-course banquet where you choose the courses for the table to share for $45 per person (or $75 per person if you add the drinks package). Be sure to book - it's a very popular option.