Izakaya Publico is Brisbane's best kept dining secret - a stunning contemporary Japanese restaurant located off the beaten track via a hidden entrance in the boutique Hotel Indigo.
Getting to Izakaya Publico is part of the adventure - enter the lobby of Hotel Indigo, which is tucked away near the Turbot St offramp and take the lift or stairs to the second floor where there's a speakeasy Japanese lounge bar - 1603- overlooking the street. From here a set of winding stairs leads down to the jaw-dropping restaurant which is like stumbling into a real slice of Japan that has just landed in Brisbane.
The striking dining room with soaring ceilings is flanked by two-storey high curtains and jaw-dropping artworks, moodily lit by strings and clusters of lanterns and offers seating in booths or Modernist style dining tables and chairs.
At one end of the dining room is the open kitchen where diners can watch the chefs busy chopping, prepping and cooking on the robata grill.
The exquisite menu, beautifully presented on Japanese tableware, is designed to share, with teriyaki and robata grill dishes the main act, along with noodles, tempura, and small agemono (fried dishes) such as gyoza, tebaski (chicken wings) and panko camembert with sakura dip.
There's also a selection of raw dishes (octopus carpaccio, salmon tartare, oysters or sashimi omakase (chef's daily sashimi menu) as well as the must-try tacos (salmon, tuna or beef with sushi rice, cucumber and chives in a tempura nori shell).
Also highly recommended are the Sandos, with a choice of chicken katsu, salted slaw & tonkatsu; white truffle egg salad or wagyu rump with cured egg mayo) and the tempura (little acre mushrooms or prawn & pink snapper).
Skewers are another staple of the menu, with 10 variations of chicken (which can be ordered as chicken tasting set), along with delicious offerings such as pork belly & yuzu miso; Mooloolaba prawn & konbu butter; king oyster mushroom & garlic teriyaki; wagyu rump, koji glaze & fried onion; or SA octopus & red chilli sauce.
And from the Robata (white hot coal) Grill, dishes include scallops in shell with umeboshi butter; salmon fillet or free range chicken breast with black garlic teriyaki, fried tofu with butter & nogi or the house special - hay roasted bonito tataki, ginger, wasabi and ponzu.
And to follow, a small selection of sweets includes baked cheese tart; house made ice-cream (white chocolate sesame. banana miso and milk chocolate) or chocolate takoyaki.
Need to know - At the time of visiting (August 2022) bookings could only be made by phone or email. [email protected]
With plenty of tables walk-ins are accepted but bookings are recommended for groups. Izakaya Publico can only be reached via the hotel foyer where there are signs indicating the lift or stairs up to 1603 bar and from there, the restaurant.
27-35 Turbot St