Brisbane has stacks of Japanese restaurants and Korean restaurants, but they tend to serve budget-friendly comfort food aimed at locals and homesick foreign students. Butterfly is different to those places.
It’s a 22-seat Korean and Japanese fine-diner just on Jurgens Street, off Woolloongabba’s beaten track, in the old Moose & Gibson digs.
Restaurateur Alex Kim, a Seoul native, spent 13 years working in first-class restaurants around the world, including the celebrated Okku in Dubai; Yokowa, a traditional kaiseki joint Singapore; and Sushi Namiki in Seoul. He’s also done short stints at the Michelin-starred Lee Jong Kuk, also in Seoul, and Akachochin in Melbourne.
Kim has stripped the space back to its raw elements, with concrete-brick walls, a concrete floor, and a three-sided dining counter that surrounds a prep bench and a locally built adjustable woodfired grill. The room’s few accoutrements include a small zen garden and a record player spinning classical and jazz. Kim sets much of the mood with the lighting, which is dimmed once diners take their seats.
Dinner is a spectacle: Kim and his chefs work through anywhere between 12 and 16 courses. What you eat will depend on what’s market-fresh on the day, but might include kingfish sashimi; salmon caviar with sumiso (a traditional sauce made with light-brown miso); a yukhoe tartare sandwich with fermented cod-roe cream; Wagyu bulgogi with hollandaise sauce; or pork and kimchi mandu (Korean dumplings) served with potato puree.