Hey babe - I'd like to talk to you. About a little Boom Boom. Okay so perhaps the reference to the 1987 suggestive dance track might be a bit obscure for the millennials and the zoomers, but who are we to resist temptation. This was very much the theme of our visit to the Boom Boom Room - failing to resist temptation.
Brisbane's Boom Boom Room, part of the Ghanem Group (Bisou Bisou, Iris, Byblos, Blackbird and Donna Chang) is downstairs from the aforementioned house of Sichuan and Cantonese inspired food Donna Chang at 171 George Street in Brisbane, housed in the 108-year-old underground bank vaults of Brisbane’s heritage-listed Government Bank. It's a cavernous space with some serious thought injected into both design and function.
A champion of Australian produce and styled like a Japanese club, the Boom Boom Room is yet another addition to what is arguably Australia's most thriving dining scene (Brisbane is doing amazing things). Overseen by the group's Executive Chef Jake Nicolson, the food is definitely reminiscent of tiny yakitori bars and Izakaya dens of Tokyo and Osaka, but in a much grander way.
As tempted as we were for an Omakase banquet, we instead decided to pretty much order one of everything on the menu. Crispy chicken skin, koji sour cream, spanner crab meat + Oscietra caviar was a standout among a small selection of starters which included some freshly shucked oysters and some grilled Noosa scallops, both tasty and uber fresh.
We backed that up with a kingfish tartare, yuzu, buttermilk, dill oil and cucumber which whacked the palate with tart citrus and the butter like texture of the perfectly handled kingfish. Less inspiring was a tuna handroll, fermented chilli with yuzu mayo, cucumber + avocado. It was just a little meh - and lacking the intensity of flavour the other dishes hit us with, including a wagyu beef tataki, daikon, ponzu, mandarin kosho and garlic chips which pretty much melted in the mouth and zipped flavour everywhere across the palate. The Japanese love a bit of umami and this dish had all of that and more.
Lips were licked and plates changed for the next round (I did mention we ordered a lot right?) No less than eight skewers of sizeable Yakitori hit the table - including standout skewers of pork belly with mustard and sesame, chicken hearts with egg yolk, soy, shichimi and chives, and a Mooloolaba banana prawn which was stunning. As good as they were, they were eclipsed by the simplicity and pure artistry of miso roasted Glacier 51 Toothfish with yuzu mayonnaise and a wedge of lemon. This is the Wagyu of fish, raised in the chilly waters of the Antarctic with super white colour and flaky texture. Few chefs could handle this like Nicolson and Head chef Zac Sykes (but then I might be biased - Jake is a Melbourne man after all).
Already well settled into the large, comfortable red velvet club like chairs, we loosened the belt a notch to take in the next round of food, which we could have easily done without. A Jack's Creek flank was as good as we had been told, deliciously moist and flavoursome, while half of a Koji grilled chicken was teetering on the edge of slightly overdone and dry. Partnered with some Jerusalem artichokes on a sunflower puree (ridiculously good) and some charred snake beans, it was all we could do not to burst.
The service was very off and on, and a little disappointing. We were not sure who might have been looking after us at times, and for some reason it seemed a bit disconnected given the perception of value. Maybe it was just a busy night, and they were coping as best they could. Benefit of the doubt as always. (We addressed this with the management shortly after and will always give the benefit of the doubt - times are tough).
The Boom Boom Room, while very Brisbane, transported us back to Japan, a place close to our hearts and a former home. A very long drinks list covers all the bases, from a dedicated page of rare and limited release Japanese whiskey and three pages of sake from which to choose. Ever the traditionalists, after sloshing a Japanese inspired cocktail, we followed with a Yoshinogawa Yuzushu, a yuzu sake blend, a 2020 Amato Vino Bianco from the Margaret River, a 2019 Somos McLaren Vale Vermentino and a 2018 Yamanashi Japanese Grace Rose.
Needless to say, budget blown and completely over refreshed, we departed with a promise to return, to see if the service issues were a slip up or if they are a bigger challenge for the team. With this kind of spend, we certainly hope not.
Boom Boom Room. 171 George Street, Brisbane. 4000
Weds - Sun 4.30pm - late