Pacific Fair is well on the way to creating an ‘eat or shop’ dilemma.
As part of a $670 million redevelopment, high end fashion shops with huge investment fit outs have been opening along the boulevard attracting international shoppers and lots of onlookers. The centre is also well on the way to establishing itself as a dining destination as the unfolding of its eating areas continues.
It’s hard to believe that once we were pushed to get more than a sandwich when we shopped at Pac Fair. Now there’s a choice of fast food diners as well as high end restaurants emerging in several distinct areas of the centre.
First to open in time for Christmas 2015 was The Patio casual dining precinct upstairs near the cinemas.
At the top of the escalators, BiN232 is the choice of many foodies. Smart and sassy, it’s a joint venture of Daniel and Ruggie Ridgeway, one of the series of BiN restaurants that serve consistently delicious share plates in a fully licensed venue with fancy cocktails and a well-curated drinks list.
If you make it past BiN232, you’ll find a dozen other casual eateries dotted around the outside of a tropical paradise-themed dining area. There’s no hint of a food hall, the area divided into cabanas by plants and wicker chairs to give some privacy. While many of the restaurants are upmarket chain eateries, each one is distinct, giving plenty of choice for family dining.
Move through Europe with restaurants such as Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria, Schnitz and Wild Fish & Chips or dine more casually with Mad Mex, or Grill’d burgers.
Finn Poke is our ‘go to’ for fresh, tasty, nutritious and sustainable food at Pacific Fair. ‘Curated’ is the word that owner Jem uses to describe his bowl food. It applies not only to sustainability of resources, the use of sustainable seafood only, but also to the ‘curation’ of each bowl to achieve balance of flavour and texture.
“You’re only as good as your last poke bowl,” says Jem, adapting the words of Le Pain Quotidien’s founder Alain Coumont, stressing their insistence on quality.
Eat well and do good!
Top off your meal with a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream or a Top Juice yoghurt bowl or cold-pressed juice. Asian offerings include Chong Co Thai, Mary’s Malaysian, Noodle Haus and Motto Motto.
Motto Motto is one of our favourites for a healthy affordable quick eat. 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.
There are lots of sets and deal upgrades, one of the best being the Motto Motto Super set which comprises five small bowls of goodness foraround $20: miso soup, karaage chicken and seaweed salted fries, potato salad, crunchy crab croquettes with edamame and teri-teri chicken with rice. It’s an absolute hit!
Downstairs around the supermarket giants, there are specialty food stores and plenty of affordable fare to prepare you for the big grocery shop!
Hero Sushi, Chi Ran Vegetarian Bar, Roll’d Vietnamese and Hakataya Ramen’s appearance in this area will please lovers of Asian food, and just nearby is the Sunlit Asian Supermarket and the Asian bakery chain BreadTop.
From displays of fresh fruit and vegies at the greengrocer to Grain and Grocer where you can buy dry and bulk foods by weight, from Soul Origin with their salads and sandwich fare to Sunbaked Bakery, the home of artisan breads and pastries including gluten free breads, there’s a huge emphasis in this area on fresh and healthy.
A few other food outlets are scattered through the centre, including Rustico, Bookface (books, sweet treats and great coffee) and Caffé Cherry Beans – who doesn’t love a steaming cup of salted caramel Belgian chocolate mocha! They’re in an area which could make the most of a water view, an opportunity missed in the planning, in our opinion.
The latest area to emerge as a dining hub in Pacific Fair faces out to Hooker Boulevard on the northern side of the centre, the area marked by a massive bottle tree and a sparkling water feature.
At the northern entrance of the centre is Yum Cha Cuisine. Part of a franchise group (including Yum Cha Noodle Haus) owned by Iki Wong & Marco Hau, Yum Cha Cuisine is a large auspicious looking restaurant with linen clad tables and a colourful large mural filling one wall. Bi-fold glass windows open to the street, giving an airy, casual feel. Yum cha dishes are ordered off the menu.
Share a basket of Shanghai Steamed pork dumplings (Xiao long bao – $5.80 for 3) as entrée before your main courses. Seafood combination is very well presented in a bird’s nest of fried lotus root, but our special recommendation is the tasty melt-in-your-mouth Sirloin steak with honey and black pepper served on a hot plate. Desserts of mango pudding, coconut jelly or custard tart are popular favourites.
With more and more openings, it’s worth noting that prices are also creeping (or in some cases jumping) up for venues within shopping centres. Gone are the days when shopping centre food was fried, greasy and cheap. There’s a great range of artisan fare – fresh, healthy and delicious food, on offer at Pacific Fair, not just for fast dining but also for fine dining.
What Pacific Fair and Robina both show us is that preconceptions of shopping centre dining makes a shopping experience a lifestyle destination. We’ll go shopping… and we’ll stay there for hours longer because their foodie offerings are so much more, so diverse and so much better than we’ve previously experienced.
Simply put, shopping centres are reinventing themselves to become the new lifestyle destinations.
Pacific Fair, Hooker Boulevard, Broadbeach
NOTE: Original post updated in 2020.