Benihana on the Gold Coast.
Benihana on the Gold Coast.

Enjoy change of pace

WHERE in the world would you steal a kiss from a flying prawn?

While waiting to go into Benihana Japanese Steakhouse, we could hear oohs and aahs, building up our already exuberant anticipation.

I remarked to my husband about how much fun it sounded inside just before the waitress ushered us into the dining room.

We sat at one of six stations with many diners already engrossed in their experience.

I couldn't help but stare in awe at what was unfolding before my eyes.

Highly-trained teppanyaki chef Alvin soon approached our station and worked the cooking utensils as if he had several arms.

Alvin performed many tricks on the teppan hot plate and involved each diner by flicking a cooked prawn into the air, prompting us to catch it with our mouths.

I've never been any good at catching food in my mouth and this time was no exception. I missed stupendously and wound up receiving a kiss from the prawn instead.

While the food was simple and delicious, it was the spectacle of watching our dinner being cooked with such finesse and flair that really impressed.

The animation at Benihana is a fine example of the atmosphere on the Gold Coast, which is a flurry of excitement most of the year.

Scantily clad tourists come from all over the world to soak up the fun in the sun.

But when temperatures drop and the numbers subside, the majestic southern humpback whales come out to play.

When we visited, it was the beginning of the migration season and while that meant a trip on Seaworld's Spirit of Migaloo (named after the albino humpback whale), it also meant the chances of seeing a whale were still slim.

Once we sailed through the Broadwater and into the ocean, everyone on board – not that many, as there was a severe sea sickness warning – kept their eyes peeled in search of an elusive shadow.

Two boats hovered a couple of hundred metres ahead, a sign that a whale was in the vicinity. Sure enough, a whale surfaced and opened its blowhole, prompting all passengers to raise their cameras.

As it floated for a while, toying with its onlookers, some grew uneasy, yearning for something more exciting to happen. That's when the pert whale breached, catching every passenger, even the crew, completely unaware.

Check cameras ... nothing but white wash. Damn.

While many of us hung our heads, frustrated that we missed capturing the whale thrusting itself out of the water, we were reminded to keep watching the water in case our friend resurfaced.

“There!” I said, pointing ahead, receiving a pat on the shoulder from one of the crew members.

We had come across quite a show pony. Over the next hour or so, the playful whale breached another three times, giving most passengers the chance to capture a perfect shot.

Aside from watching the whale, I also caught myself admiring the coastline and the magnificent Q1.

Earlier in our weekend away, we had been given the chance to go to the 77th floor (in 43 seconds) of the tallest residential building in the southern hemisphere.

While the 360-degree views of the Gold Coast were impressive, they couldn't trump the bird's eye view from the 20-minute helicopter ride earlier in the day.

We also had the chance to visit two of the fine eateries at the Marriott Resort and Spa, the Elandra Retreat Club for breakfast each morning and, of course, Benihana Japanese Steakhouse, one of the famous teppanyaki restaurants in Surfers Paradise.

To balance all the excitement of our whirlwind weekend, we luxuriated with a 90-minute massage at L'Aqua Day Spa, located in the Watermark Hotel.

A full body massage followed by a gorgeous warm spa was the perfect way to relax and warm up on a cool winter's day.

While we are lucky to have beautiful beaches of our own on the Sunshine Coast, our southern sister has so much to offer that even a weekend away seemed like a holiday.

The writer was a guest of Gold Coast Tourism.



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