The Calile Hotel's Luxe Sushi Room Is Expanding to Give James Street an Even Bigger Japanese Fine-Diner

This Nigella Lawson-approved Fortitude Valley favourite is taking over the neighbouring tenancy to cater to more patrons.
Sarah Ward
Published on July 10, 2024

Getting Nigella Lawson's tick of approval is no small deal. For Sushi Room, that dream came true earlier in 2024 when the British celebrity chef brought her latest live speaking tour to Brisbane. No one needed that endorsement to know that the James Street spot is one of the River City's best restaurants — Japanese or otherwise — however. In fact, patrons have been showing the fine-diner inside The Calile Hotel so much love in the two years since it opened that the eatery is now expanding.

One of STK Group's four restaurants on James Street — Hellenika, SK Steak & Oyster and Sunshine are the others — Sushi Room launched in June 2022 with a levelled-up sushi experience, befitting its location inside one of Brisbane's (and Australia's) most-acclaimed hotels. The focus: simple ingredients, sophisticated dishes and traditional preparation, all while turning the act of making its meals into an experience. Another aim: immersing diners in a luxe vibe complete with retro-inspired decor and theatrical presentation around its central 9.3-metre solid Japanese hinoki timber counter.

With its atmosphere and look, it wasn't hard to predict that Sushi Room would be a hit even before tasting anything from Head Chef Shimpei Raikuni's menu. Now, due to that unsurprising demand, it's taking over the neighbouring tenancy, with the extension works starting back in June 2024 for a planned completion by this spring. Patrons can still enjoy a meal at the restaurant in the interim, as Sushi Room is remaining open. Soon, however, more folks will be able to soak in the top-notch Japanese experience.

"This expansion will create a much more desirable space and entry. It is the perfect time for us to expand and is how I imagined Sushi Room to be from the outset — however, we had to wait for the space to became available," said restaurateur and owner Simon Gloftis.

"The expansion will also allow for a wider variety of dining options. Once open, our full menu will now be available at the bar,
allowing more flexibility for our guests and choice as to where they prefer to sit."

It'll only be in the final weeks of construction that you might notice the renovations under way, as that's when internal walls will be removed to join Sushi Room's current digs with its expanded site. When the extension is complete, you'll be able to head inside via the new formal entrance on Doggett Street, which is where the new bar will sit. In the existing space, the old bar will be converted into more dining. Yes, there'll be more booths: two of them.

Original architects Richards and Spence are again leading the charge, continuing the restaurant's nods to mid-century Japanese pop culture and 60s neo-futurism, with natural stone, timber and paper featuring heavily.

Sushi Room's inviting aesthetics and mood have always been matched by the real star: the menu. Go a la carte and you have oysters with ponzu, caviar toro toro, wagyu skewers, and a range of sushi rolls, sashimi and nigiri to choose from — as well as grilled duck and toothfish among the yakimono dishes, plus lobster tempura and other battered bites.

Alongside four different sets, omakase and enkai options are on offer if you'd prefer the chef to choose, with an omakase experience getting you dining at the counter across two hours. Drinks-wise, sake pairings span from light to rich flavours, the international wine list is hefty — as is the range of spirits — and choosing a cocktail means selecting from tipples made with caviar, miso, yuzu, sencha and wasabi.

Joshua Maguire

Find Sushi Room inside The Calile Hotel, 48 James Street, Fortitude Valley — open from 5.30pm Tuesday–Thursday for dinner, and from 12pm Friday–Saturday for lunch and dinner. Head to the restaurant's website for bookings and further details.

Published on July 10, 2024 by Sarah Ward
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