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10 Top Spots that show off the Gold Coast's bold new flavours

Marj Osborne

Boasting some of the best beaches in the world, great surf and tourist attractions, the Gold Coast is increasingly becoming known as a vibrant food destination with relaxed cafés, great coffee and interesting food. From casual eateries where you dine outdoors under beach umbrellas to sophisticated five-star restaurants, the Gold Coast dining scene holds something for everyone. We are developing our own style of dining, often in quite casual environs, with dishes which both reflect our European heritage as well as comment on our place in the Asia-Pacific region. Here are ten dining spots that show off the Gold Coast's bold new flavours:

Rick Shores

Shop 3, 43 Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads Ph: 07 5630 6611

Rick Shores sits poised at the ocean's edge in one of the coast's revered spots: the ground floor level of the iconic Burleigh Pavilions. Laid out on three levels, the dining area cascades downwards towards the ocean, seen through floor to ceiling glass, the focal point of the restaurant. Set on an aqua blue tableau of a tropical summer and brilliant white shores, the vista is dotted with people surfing, lying, playing, talking; a microcosm of life unfolding before our eyes.

There's no doubting the culinary skills of these chefs, their food boasting a range of flavours from the archipelago. Interesting combinations and, best of all, the element of surprise give the flavours of Asia new life. Expect to see Soft shell crab with apple slaw, Thai tuna tartare as a salad, Slow-roasted lamb with five spice, and rich pungent curries brimming with mint, Thai basil, turmeric, exotic banana flower, black garlic, green mango and house made smoked tomato jaewl. The menu is matched by an interesting wine list or, more fittingly, craft beers or a cocktail. It's a top iconic spot to spend some time. Grab a group of friends and share some extraordinary flavours. It will be like discovering your fifth sense of taste.

Ten Japanese

2679 Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach Ph: 07 5570 1010

Ten Japanese embodies the essence of timeless simplicity in a most sophisticated way. Hidden behind impressive stainless steel doors, Ten is a tranquil world away from the outside bustle. Just beyond the entrance is a cellar boasting extensive vertical holdings of Dom Pérignon and Penfold's Grange Hermitage, and a selection of 150 of the finest Australian and world wines. The venue houses a series of intimate yet luxurious dining areas: the simply elegant Sushi Bar, a private function room and sake lounge, and the magnificent round-grilled Teppanyaki Bar with dramatic high-backed chairs, and stainless steel vaulted ceilings.

The menu shows off the house specialties: sushi, teppanyaki, and kaiseki-style dishes in a range of set menus or à la carte. Each dish is prepared in front of us, exquisitely presented by impeccable wait staff who graciously explain its components. It's a full arena of taste, from the freshest sushi and sashimi to succulent meats and exquisite desserts, a menu which bridges the gap between tradition and modernity. The pinnacle of Ten's dining is the 8-course Omakase Menu featuring eight or more courses which may include foie gras, truffles, Oscietra caviar, or Master Kobe 9+ Wagyu beef. Whether you enjoy cod aged in miso or the luxurious richness of toothfish, lobster or King crab, Ten Japanese is an essential stop for the serious diner or wine connoisseur; a 'taste of heaven' on the Gold Coast.

Etsu

2440 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach Ph: 07 5526 0944

Wildly popular, Etsu is a modern take on a timeless Oriental story. It begins at the izakaya signpost, a red lantern outside the fortress-like wooden door, continuing with the barrel of Hokusai's Great Wave, a rogue ocean okinami that runs along the ceiling of the restaurant. Past the bar, the restaurant opens up into a satirical Japanese comic book mural by local artist Mark Wilson. Funky and quirky, there's seating at the bar, at tatami booths or at conventional tables, or dine at a group table with a tree growing from its centre.

Diners embark on a dining experience for all the senses, swept away by classic izakaya delights. Order a selection of small dishes or Omakase, a Japanese phrase that means 'I'll leave it up to you', the chef's choice: the freshest Edamame we've tasted, Salmon and kingfish tatake laced with seaweed and pickled cucumber, Pork gyoza,'Omakase' mixed tempura with light crunchy batter and Crunchy softshell crab. Almost smokeless due to the use of prized binchotan charcoal, the distinctive aromas of the slowly grilling meat pervade the restaurant. Most noticeable on our Amiyaki Wagyu beef, the subtle smoky char flavour licks our palates, teasing and enticing. Begin with a Japanese-inspired cocktail, then pair your dishes with sparkling sake to accompany sashimi, Japanese beer to team with tempura, and sake, shochu, and plum wine to see you through the journey.

Kiyomi

Jupiters Hotel & Casino, Broadbeach Island, Ph: 07 5592 8443

Kiyomi, in Jupiter's Hotel, showcases Executive Chef Chase Kojima's incredible talent. He brings us world-class cuisine (ex-Nobu) made from immaculately sourced produce, stunningly presented. But while Kojima was given rock star status on opening with a giant portrait gracing the lobby, it's his umami-filled dishes that are the real stars.

While keeping the traditionalists at bay with a sushi bar and charcoal grilled meat, the main intent of Kiyomi is in its modern Japanese-inspired creations. Seared scampi, foie gras, apple and mizuna is one of Chase's signature dishes. The presentation of the scampi shells on a bed of ice guarding their meat, poised beside them on leaves of bamboo, is elegant yet simple. Unexpected though the combination may be, the creaminess of the scampi is complemented by the richness of the foie gras, the crisp apple matchsticks adding a tart pique of interest and texture. From Hiramasa kingfish miso ceviche piled high on a triangular plate and the decadently rich Dengakuman toothfish with caramelised miso to the playful F-111-like Mochi Ravioli or the more serious Goma Street, (Sokyo's favourite dessert), Kiyomi's food is exquisitely plated, with flavours and textures that surprise and delight adventurous diners.

The Fish House

50 Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads, 07 5535 7725

With stunning views over the iconic Burleigh Beach and coastline beyond, The Fish House is Simon Gloftis' specialty fish restaurant. While the restaurant is understated and elegant, the focus of dining at The Fish House is on the product. The daily menu pays homage to the freshest seafood, flown in from around Australia daily, prepared simply to celebrate the flavour of the fish.

With a number of raw and smoked starters and nine entrées, it may be difficult to know where to begin. If you decide on one dish only, choose from the blackboard list of today's fish, try the Patagonian Toothfish or the oven-baked Petuna Ocean Trout from Macquarie Harbour, Tasmania. In our view, however, the Chef's selection is the best way to truly understand The Fish House. From the 'simple' Lemony fish soup to Crustacean risotto, the chef will send out his choice of dishes in procession.

With knowledgeable, unobtrusive service, ambient relaxed surroundings and a vast fine wine collection from Australia and Europe, The Fish House provides an exceptional wining and dining experience. Not surprisingly, it is one of our most awarded restaurants.

Mamasan Kitchen & Bar

Oracle Boulevard, Broadbeach Ph: 07 5527 5700

Mamasan Kitchen & Bar is a sophisticated, upmarket eatery in the Oracle precinct of Broadbeach with a menu that reflects not only the Gold Coast's close ties with Asia but also new life in a new land. Our best chefs are the ones who not only understand the origins of each dish, but coax us out of familiar territory, luring us into unexpected flavours and textures using invention and surprise. So it is at Mamasan, with traditional dishes turned on their head, given unexpected twists of flavour.

Chef Ray Choi's food (ex-China Doll) is superb: King crab dumplings are the lightest melt-in-your-mouth ravioli, delicately floating in a coconut sambal bisque, while the Prawn and bamboo shoot dumplings are housed in a crispy skin, perhaps a take on taro pastry-clad dumplings. The Pork bao is the best we've tasted, two gua bao nestled together on a platter, an upmarket version of Taiwan's favourite street food. The Byron Bay pork has been Sichuan salt cured for three hours before being cooked for ten hours in the sous vide. What a dish this is, a well-balanced little bundle of bold, spicy and flavour-filled meat accompanied by its own pickled salad and hoisin, enveloped in a perfectly pillow-like bun. Pick it up and get all over it! Gloriously messy, juices dribble down your wrist as you yield to the addiction of the dish colloquially known as 'Tiger bites pig'!

Hank Dining & Bar

Shop 12, Broadbeach Mall, Broadbeach, Ph: 07 5539 0883

Hank is a serious step into innovative classic cuisine. After his resounding success with Spanish tapas at Pablo Pablo, Palm Beach, LeeRoy Donily has backed the food he loves: modern international fusion dishes using quality ingredients in interesting combinations, not too serious to share!

Hank is a sophisticated modern dining room, uncluttered enough to highlight the copper cylinder light over the bar and a large peg-woven 'Hank' on a side wall. Hank. The word itself conjures up a picture: a solid skein of rope. Grab it and hold on! It's a name with a quirky 70s feel, a tone also reflected in the menu.

Without the distraction of a passing parade, all eyes are on the food. Expect modern Australian dishes to share: Hervey Bay scallops with crumbed black pudding, truffled cauliflower cream and sherry raisins, Chargrilled Flinders Island lamb ribs with salsa verde, or New season asparagus with Byron Bay mozzarella and puffed grains. Leave room for the Salted caramel panna cotta. It's divine!

It would be easy to visit Hank for the drinks menu alone. We enjoyed one of its 50 shades of gin as an English Garden Party jug to be shared: Bombay Sapphire gin, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, aloe vera, fresh mint and cloudy apple. To me, elderflower is the truffle of flowers, powdery and hypnotic, making this cocktail a perfect Gold Coast summer classic.

Salt Grill

Level 1, Hilton Surfers Paradise, 6 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5680 8100

Celebrity Chef Luke Mangan has moved to meet dining trends in the Hilton Surfers Paradise's signature restaurant Salt grill with the addition of a family-friendly tapas menu and shared plate selection.

Salt grill's 157-seat dining room, decked out in autumn colours, overlooks the buzz of Orchid Avenue through large circular port-hole windows. Salt grill is Luke Mangan on display, from his signature plates and olive oil, to the menu of modern Australian classics. Mangan's signature dishes fill the menu, many with a Pan-Asian flair, such as Crab omelette in a miso mustard broth, and Liquorice parfait with lime syrup and tuile, while other larger dishes are more substantial rustic fare, such as roast and grilled meat. The restaurant offers a mid-week two course special as well as a seven course degustation, with an option of paired wines from its extensive cellar.

To accommodate the new menu direction, an alternative dining space has been created overlooking the action in the open kitchen. Dine on Tempura prawns with a coconut and lime curry sauce and Asian slaw; Signature Hiramasa kingfish sashimi with ginger, eschallot and Persian feta; Moroccan lamb cutlets with caper & raisin purée, broccolini and hazelnuts; or Seared scallop with, black pudding, butternut purée. It's the attention to detail in the ingredient combinations and sauces that makes these dishes an absolute pleasure.

Moo Moo The Wine Bar + Grill

2685 Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach Ph: 07 5539 9952

Even though Australia is a coastal nation, we love our steak, preferably washed down with a cooling ale! Moo Moo gives us the best of both. Boasting a top location for a steakhouse, Moo Moo overlooks Broadbeach's Victoria Park, opposite Jupiters Casino and the Gold Coast Convention Centre.  Since its opening in 2005, Moo Moo has collected numerous awards including Gold Coast Restaurant of the Year (2007 and 2012) and Queensland's Best Steak Restaurant (2008 and 2012).

2016 saw a complete refurbishment of the venue, with owners Steven and Autumn Adams welcoming JP Duitsch as a Gold Coast partner. What has emerged is a cutting edge slick new space featuring natural stone and slate overlooked by impressive pendant lighting; industrial chic meets absolute luxury. The restaurant's spectacular zinc-topped Moobar has become one of the Gold Coast's hot venues to enjoy cocktails or wine from an award-winning list.

The reputation of a steak restaurant always depends on the quality of its steak. At Moo Moo the range of steak includes Dry Aged, Pasture Fed, All Natural, and Grain Fed ; a mix of Wagyu and Angus breeds. It's the place to buy Master Kobe beef, the best available in Australia; succulent and tender with a great rich flavour. Share the Moo Moo Signature Dish, a spice-rubbed kilo of Wagyu rump sealed on the char grill then oven roasted. The meat is carved at your table and served with a rocket and parmesan salad glazed with fig vincotta, oven-roasted Nicola potatoes and a trio of sauces. This is 'steak with swank', the best of the best!

House of Brews

17 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5526 2601

We would be remiss to talk about new tastes of the Gold Coast without referring to our 'liquid assets'. The Gold Coast, together with its surrounding Scenic Rim, is home to seven breweries, several wineries and a couple of distilleries. Many of them are open for tours and tastings, however, if your time is short, our recommendation for a local taste test is House of Brews.

Owned by the Kanaghines brothers, this American-inspired eatery and taphouse boasts the largest number of beers on tap on the Gold Coast. Having tasted from'the best boutique tap establishments' in the US, the brothers returned to home territory to show off the best beer they could source from around the world, including our own.

"Over the last eighteen months or so, we are seeing fantastic product coming from microbreweries here on the Gold Coast…We decided the time was right for the Coast to have a quality venue devoted to supporting outstanding local breweries," Damien Kanaghines told us.

This commitment shines through, resulting in the largest number of local beers we found on tap in one venue. When we visited, their impressive line-up of '32 shades of amber' and custom-designed keg room housed local brews from Black Hops, Fortitude, Beard & Brau, Pickled Pig and Burleigh Brewing (with Balter on the way) poured from rotating taps.

Marj Osborne

Food Writer

Food writer and blogger at Good Food Gold Coast, Marj Osborne is fascinated by all things food. When her nose isn't sniffing out fresh seafood or truffles, it's looking for the story behind the plate. Food involves passion, and it is her conduit to find people who care about what they do, who bring colour and flavour to others' lives. Follow Marj's reviews on her website, or get updates on food happenings and events on Facebook or Instagram.

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