Welcome to another of our ‘Go To’ cheap and cheerful dining posts. Whether it be a hot steamy night after a day at the beach or a blustery evening when the cold seeps into your bones, there’s nothing like an cheap night out, a ‘slurp your way to goodness’ heaven with a hot Asian eat. Tasty and nutritious, many of these ‘layers of meaning’ meals give you a bang for your buck – fresh and affordable as well as BYO.
At Thai on Frank, Labrador
1/ 97 – 99 Frank Street, Labrador Ph: 5531 1799
Jon and Tuk Brady are well known to the Gold Coast dining public, winning many awards at their former restaurant, Kin Kao: Best Thai and Best BYO on the Gold Coast and contender for Best BYO in Australia. Tuk’s aromatic Thai food and Jon’s hospitable service gained them a loyal following of local patrons.
At Thai on Frank, opened with partner Apple Leighton (owner of Thai House, Sanctuary Cove) is a modern fresh take on Thai food. Venture into the specials and you’ll find Whole plate-sized barramundi in a rich Sam Rod curry and a deliciously rich Pad Pong Kari smothering a plate of softshell crab (or Choo Chee Moreton Bay bugs when they’re on special)! There are great vegetarian options on the menu, most dishes are gluten-free, and the restaurant is BYO.
Lunch is more adventurous, catering for seasoned travellers. Our favourite lunch dish is Khao Soi, a rich coconut curry noodle soup with chicken. Exotic yet delicious, it has become Northern Thailand’s de facto signature dish. With its street food inspired menu, casual yet classy dining room and friendly service, At Thai on Frank is a great find – delicious food, fabulous value – a real bonus to the north side dining scene!
Foodie Indiya, Nerang
Petro’s Corner Shopping Centre, A2/1 Tibbing St, Nerang Ph: 5500 4748
If you’re a bit partial to Tandoori Chicken, then you’ll be keen to know that you can get a whole bird cooked in the tandoor for under $16 at Foodie Indiya! We don’t really care if you don’t like the name; this is one of the best Indian restaurants around with some of the keenest prices to boot.
Perched up on a hill of Petro’s Corner opposite Coles, once inside your doubts will be put aside. With a ruby feature wall and sheer curtains giving privacy to each table, this is a pleasant little affordable restaurant. Curries are really tasty, naan is perfect, and service is pleasant. There’s takeaway and delivery too, of course.
Hachi, Nobby Beach
Shop 1B, 2249 Gold Coast Highway, Nobby Beach Ph: 5572 6251
Following seven years in Palm Beach, Nam Sukhyum has opened Hachi in Nobby Beach, adding variety to the already popular highway front strip. It’s an ambient space with its two-piece floating ceiling and smart bar, the open kitchen showing off the chefs hard at work.
There are lots of izakaya (tapas) dishes to share, such as Vegetable or prawn tempura, a deliciously generous Agedashi Tofu, Sashimi, Chicken yakitori, and Nam’s Mother delicious pancake. Salads and stir-fried vegetables with meat and rice are great value, or order a main course or the Bella Donna, which combines steak with tempura vegetables served over soba or udon noodles. Feeling hungry? Then why not splurge on a Hachi Gozen, a feast of eight dishes or a Hachi Hotpot feast for two.
Service is obliging and genteel, our used chopsticks and plates whisked away unobtrusively as the wait staff glide past. As expected, this licensed bar specialises in Japanese beverages but Hachi also allows BYO wine for $2 per glass/person, giving us the best of both worlds. Hachi is casual, comfortable and stylish; a very pleasant place to meet up with friends or to enjoy a good value dinner for two.
Kenny’s Malay Kitchen, Broadbeach Waters
14 Kalimna Drive, Broadbeach Waters Ph: 07 5538 6941
If you want the best Roti channai in town, you can’t go past Kenny’s Malay Kitchen. Relocating from Mermaid Waters Shopping Centre to the unassuming Gold Coast Lawn Bowls Club has been a win win for both the club and owners Kenny and Tracey Foon, their Malaysian food adapted to the Western palate well loved by locals to dine in or take away.
It’s our local which we visit for casual meals with friends, noteworthy for its generous sized dishes of sizzling duck, beef or prawns, duck salad or satay chicken skewers accompanied by a $3 bowl of coconut rice, Malay and Penang curries, a few Nyonya dishes and Thai red and green curries. Drinks are available from the bowls club next door, a quaffing shiraz setting you back $15 if you are a member.
Kubo’s Café Bar & Grill, Southport
Australia Fair Centro, Young St., Southport Ph: 0449 556 981
Owned by Jake and Clifford Gutierrez, Kubo’s Café Bar & Grill is a rare Filipino food presence on the coast, finding its audience immediately.
“Filipinos love their food and a big breakfast is a big deal,” says Michelle, one of Kubo’s customers. Following their custom in the Philippines, Sunday brunch is a communal feast at Kubo’s after church, just a short walk away in Scarborough Street. Dishes on offer include typical Filipino breakfasts such as tapsilog (marinated meat or sausage served with garlic fried rice and two fried eggs) or tsokolate served with puto (hot chocolate made from raw cocoa served with sticky rice cooked in a banana leaf – the Filipino breakfast in a hurry) through to kinilaw (a raw fish salad), grilled pork skewers and pig on the spit, the extensive menu covering many Filipino favourites.
“Pork and sugar – where would Filipino cuisine be without them,” Michelle adds, laughing. And there are lots of sweet treats at Kubo’s! A cabinet is full of gorgeous Pinoy cakes with swirly icing and other sweets treats.
Topping off the feast we spot the famous Halo-halo on the menu, the Filipino dessert that’s sweeping the world, a colourful mix of shaved ice and evaporated milk with toppings of boiled sweet beans, coconut, sago, jelly, fruit, and purple yam ice cream. ‘Mix mix’ as its Tagalog name implies, and you have a light, refreshing treat; perfect to share on a summer’s day.
Motto Motto, Broadbeach
Pacific Fair Shopping Centre, Hooker Boulevard, Broadbeach
Motto Motto is one of our favourites for a healthy affordable quick eat if we need to do a night time shop.
Part of William Liu’s empire (Sono and Nagomi), Motto Motto is notable for its top quality fresh and healthy casual Japanese cuisine. Choose from traditional donburi rice bowls (which include Wagyu beef or sashimi bowls), Japanese curry, 12-hour Ton-kotsu Ramen bowls or Japanese-style bread rolls stuffed with fillings such as softshell crab as well as sides.
There are lots of sets and deal upgrades, one of the best being the Motto Motto Super set, a Bento set with a difference: five small interlocking bowls of goodness giving you a taste of the menu for $19.80: miso soup, karaage chicken with seaweed salted fries, potato salad, crunchy crab croquettes served with edamame and teri-teri chicken with rice. It’s an absolute hit!
New Saigon, Broadbeach
2798 Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach Ph: 5538 7588
New Saigon arguably serves the most authentic, ‘un-westernised’ national food you’ll find here. While there are many other dishes on the menu, such as stir fries, curries, sizzling meats, green papaya salad and even the famous phō, we’re most interested in the Nguyens’ national dishes we can’t find elsewhere.
In pride of place are three dishes which Hai says are most typical of South Vietnam: Banh Xeo – a crisp Viet pancake wrapped around a filling of prawns, onion and bean sprouts with accompanying herbs and salad, served with sweet chilli sauce; Banh Khot (Khot Cake) – small round crispy coconut cake filled with cooked prawns, coconut sauce, green bean and salad; and Banh Tam – rice noodle with shredded pork and coconut cream. They are generously sized meals, fabulously fresh and exotically intriguing in flavour, and of course they’re made to order by Hue, as Hai covers the service.
Thankfully, it’s quiet in New Saigon but as you dine to intimate conversation over an imported beer, close your eyes and the flavours may just transport you back to Vietnam.
Nozomi Japanese, Parkwood
1/280 Olsen Avenue, Parkwood Ph: 5574 4262
Nozomi Japanese Restaurant is a bit of a gem in a suburb not renowned for its cuisine. Although the restaurant is small, they’ve made the most of the space, closing in the under roof veranda with plastic blinds. Welcoming service is a real bonus!
We could dine all night from the Izakaya menu, Japanese bar snacks to accompany our drinks, tempura and sashimi. For mains, there’s a choice of meat prepared in Teriyaki, Katsu, Ponzu or Miso style or you can choose a Don (on rice) for under $20.. Our Pork Ponzu was the dish of the night – succulent and tender. We’ll go back next time and order steak or eat a meal of tapas, Japanese style! Not only is Nozomi a great affordable weekday nosh place, it’s a pretty good watering hole as well. There’s a small but well-chosen wine list, a good range of imported beers, Japanese plum wine, Sake and Shochu for reasonable prices.
‘Nozomi’ means ‘hope’ in English we’re told, or ‘best always’. It’s certainly a bit of Japanese cheer for those who live in the Ashmore/Parkwood area. It could easily become one of your ‘go to’ dining haunts!
Saigon 101, Mermaid Waters
Mermaid Waters Shopping Village, 90 Markeri Street, Mermaid Waters Ph: 07 5554 5888 or 0424 868 949
If you wondered what had happened to Quan Ngo, former owner of O-Me-ly Broadbeach, he’s opened another restaurant almost next to Yuen’s in Mermaid Waters. Employing the former chef of O-Me-ly, there are many similarities in the menu: a pretty good Pho ($14.90) accompanied by a bowl fresh Vietnamese mint and bean sprouts, chilli and sauces (as well as several other soups), vermicelli dishes including Sugarcane Prawns, other hot dishes with rice, as well as other entrées and mains. Summer rolls ($9.90 for a plate of four) make a great meal or light lunch to share, while the Banh Xeo (fried crepe filled with prawns and bean sprouts $16.90) was a good version of the dish.
At Saigon 101 there’s always plenty of chance to get involved in dining, either with a steam boat or wrapping fresh sprouts and herbs with your meat or sugarcane prawns into a crisp lettuce leaf. Alternatively, choose some Lemongrass and chilli beef on rice if you like a spicier dish. Fresh juices can accompany your meal, Viet coffee or a Tri-colour shake (Che Ba Mau), or it’s $1.50 for BYO.
Saigon 101 is a clean but unpretentious ‘laminate café’ venue with really lovely genuine service. While it’s possible to dine in for under $20 per person, most dishes are also available to take away.
Feeling like something more upmarket or exotic? What about…
Etsu 2440 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach Ph: 5526 0944
Kiyomi The Star Gold Coast, Broadbeach Island, Broadbeach Ph: 5592 8443
Mamasan Oracle Boulevard, Broadbeach Ph: 5527 5700
Misono 158 Ferny Avenue, Surfers Paradise Ph: 5592 9770
Hideaway Kitchen & Bar 2657 Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach Ph: 07 5679 0369
Jimmy Wah’s 1724 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads Ph: 07 5659 1180
Can Tho Kitchen & Bar 5/465 Oxley Drive, Runaway Bay Ph: 07 5529 0098
Rick Shores Shop 3, 43 Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads Ph: 07 5630 6611
Ten Japanese Meriton Pegasus Building, 2679 Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach Ph: 07 5570 1010
Dining with vegetarian friends? Try:
Kuan Yin Tea House 2/152 Scarborough St., Southport Ph: 5511 5121
Do you have other favourites? Why not tell us about them…