It's a loooong, long climb up a wooden staircase to Oshin Japanese Restaurant atop the first floor of Brisbane's Koala House. But somehow this ascent adds to the sense of occasion - transporting diners into a different world, far above the commuter-choked Creek and Adelaide Streets below. Once you part the Japanese print curtains to enter the restaurant proper, the illusion is complete. You are no longer in Brisbane's pedestrian CBD, but in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo.
A taste of Japan in the Brisbane CBD. Images courtesy Oshin Japanese Restaurant.
On the day I visited, the only other diners were Japanese people, which I took to be an exceptionally good sign. This, combined with the scratches and dents and dings in the staircase and some of the furniture, served to underline Oshin Japanese Restaurant's status as an authentic food destination rather than a tourist trap.
For though the decor is on the tired side, the food is as fresh as ever. And the service is ultra-attentive without tipping over into intrusive. A display case filled with multi-hued raw fish assumes pride of place in the dining room. A comprehensive menu runs the gamut of bento boxes, a 'skewer corner', sashimi platters, tangled nests of noodles, tempura, sushi, hand rolls and soups. Substantial main course meals are available - for example, yakiniku (beef and vegetables cooked barbecue-style at your table), yosenabe (seafood and vegetables cooked in stock at your table) and sizzling hot plates of steak, prawns and yellowtail fish.
I opted for a classic Japanese bento box which permitted a selection of any two items from sashimi, yakitori, karaage, chicken or fish teriyaki, vegetable korokke, tempura, pork or chicken katsu and steak. I was able to watch the chef masterfully slice my sashimi before it was brought to the table with standard bento box inclusions, such as rice, miso soup and salad. In the company of a pot of steaming genmaichi tea, it all went down smooth as kimono silk.
Next visit I plan to indulge in the set course meals, which range in price from $28 per person (vegetarian) through to $65 (including sushi, sashimi, shabu shabu and sukiyaki).