Masu Izakaya is Burleigh Heads’ best-kept secret

For a restaurant to get a five-star review, everything has to be spot-on in the eyes of the diner. Every single detail, from the fare to the service, the drinks and even the overall vibe must be impeccable. When a restaurant boasts 212 of them, with nothing less than five stars, well, that’s something very special indeed. Nestled next door to Apres Surf along the Gold Coast Highway in Burleigh Heads, Masu Izakaya is undoubtedly the suburb’s best-kept secret. Here’s everything you need to know …

Oct 27, 2023, updated Oct 27, 2023

You’d be forgiven for thinking Masu Izakaya was a newcomer to the beachside suburb. The venue, which is nearing its second birthday, is restaurant number two of three for esteemed chef Jon Hizola and his wife Eileen, who also own Mr Kojima on Chevron Island and Alamat Gold Coast in Southport. Up until now, Masu Izakaya has been flying under the radar as a secret shared among those in the know, slowly building what Jon calls a ‘cult following’. The space has had plenty of transformations over the years including as a burger shop, an Italian restaurant and a protein-bowl spot, to name just a few, but despite the previous incarnations, Jon gazed upon the blank canvas with eager eyes. Throughout his career, Jon has been involved with the vast majority of the city’s top-flight Asian eateries, with many of his menus still in rotation. He describes Masu Izakaya as one of a kind. The reason, he says, is that they are presenting high-end, superb quality dishes at affordable prices. Using the same suppliers that Jon has forged relationships with in the past, his team of celebrated chefs, which includes Shintaro (formerly Yamagen and Kiyomi) alongside Yuu as sous chef, know the products inside and out. “I’m quite proud of it,” Jon says of Masu Izakaya. “The people working here are top of their game, so it makes me proud to be working with them,” he says.

Although Jon has stepped out of the kitchen this time around, chef Shintaro, who also happens to be a master sushi chef, oversees operations. “Everything here is elevated,” Jon says of the menu, which opens with a raw bar featuring ikura-ponzu oysters, unbelievably fresh sashimi that’s sliced to order, an important detail because Jon explains that when it’s pre-cut, you lose the essential oils in the fish. “When you first cut it, the oils are there, you can see it and taste it in the mouthfeel.” Next on the culinary journey is sushi. Lovers of Japanese fare will understand, there’s sushi and then there’s sushi. The former is great for a quick bite or a casual meal, but freshly made sushi topped with the thinnest slice of graded wagyu is a culinary experience. There are a few sushi options gracing the menu, but here, diners are encouraged to ‘ask the chef’ using the ingredients in the cabinet. That’s the thing with Masu Izakaya, there’s so much more to it than meets the eye. The remainder of the menu meanders through small dishes of Japanese classics including prawn toast, tempura bay bugs and scallop batayaki, to special dishes of wagyu with kinoko butter, teriyaki with your choice of protein and melt-in-your-mouth pork ribs. While Jon and the team have put a contemporary spin on each dish, he assures us the base and techniques are traditional Japanese. If you really want to experience the best of Masu Izakaya, opt for the omakase option, which represents phenomenal value at $75 per person.

Skip to The Weekend Edition’s Stumble Guide for Masu Izakaya’s opening times and booking details.

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