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Bird’s Nest fires up the charcoal grill at Portside Wharf

Food & Wine

If you’ve been to Portside Wharf recently, you might have heard the distant calls of ‘irasshaimase’ ringing through the air or, perhaps, picked up the scent of skewered morsels sizzling on a binchotan grill. Follow the sounds and smells to their source and you’ll discover Bird’s Nest’s brand-new yakitori bar. The team behind the popular Japanese-inspired eatery fired up its white-charcoal grill last month, not only joining Portside Wharf’s 2023 glow up, but also heralding a period of growth for Bird’s Nest itself.

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Over its ten-year lifespan, Bird’s Nest Yakitori Bar has grown by measured increments. It first debuted in West End in 2013 before opening a second location in Fortitude Valley three years later. Fast forward to 2019, the team launches express-service concept Bird’s Nest On The Run at Toowong Village, which is then followed by an expansion of its Fortitude Valley premises in 2021. The popularity of the Bird’s Nest product – its traditional charcoal-grilled yakitori, Japanese-style street-food dishes and suite of rare sakes – meant that owners Emi Kamada and Marie Yokoyama could have probably pulled off opening a new Bird’s Nest outpost every year or so. But location is everything – sometimes you’ve got to wait for the right fit. When Portside Wharf came knocking to see if Emi and Marie would be interested in opening their fourth Bird’s Nest location as part of the waterfront precinct’s $20-million reinvigoration, the proposal made a lot of sense. Bird’s Nest opened at Portside Wharf in September, following hot on the heels of fellow newcomers FoshRise Bakery and Rosé Gelateria. The team cut the ribbon on an intimate 100-sqm space (envisioned by Clui Design and built by Lowry Group) boasting a plush aesthetic – think red-leather banquettes, red-velvet curtains and a neon-lit back bar, plus a scattering of alfresco tables outside. A traditional binchotan (white charcoal) grill takes pride of place at the kitchen window, where skilled hands fan flames and lightly shift skewers until perfectly cooked.

These binchotan bites should, undoubtedly, be the first port of call for any Bird’s Nest newcomer. Each morsel is served delightfully smoky and succulent, be it Jack’s Creek wagyu steak, slow-braised pork belly, Atlantic salmon or grilled whole squid – it all gets the same kind of flame-licked treatment. Bird’s Nest’s range of classic skewers is also well worth investigation, particularly the crispy chicken skin, chicken meatball and zucchini with soy butter skewers. These are best enjoyed with a serve of pan-fried pork gyoza, kari kari cheese (crumbed and fried melting camembert) and sticky wings or, if the raw bar section is calling, an assorted sashimi platter. Familiar Japanese dishes like stir-fried yakisoba, jumbo octopus-filled takoyaki, katsu curry bowls and sizzling garlic rice also feature, as do a clutch of desserts (be sure to try the houjicha ice-cream, made by Gelateria Cremona in Rosalie). As for drinks, Bird’s Nest Portside is fully equiped to concoct classic and signature cocktails (including the plum wine-infused Umenegroni), dispense beers (Asahi Super Dry is on tap), pour wines and serve sake (250-ml jugs, 1.8–l bottles and tasting flights available).

Bird’s Nest Yakitori Bar is now open at Portside Wharf. Head to The Weekend Edition’s Stumble Guide for operating hours and menu details.

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