Pacific Fair Dining

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.

pacific-fair_the-patioIt’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.bin-232

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.

snag-standIf 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.

chong-co_pacific-fairMove through Europe with the Greek St Grill (fabulous Greek gyros or plated up meals), La Rotisserie (a French roasting house serving slow-cooked melt-in-your-mouth meat), Schnitz (for hand-made pan cooked schnitzels served as parmigiana, on burgers or in a wrap), or dine more casually with Mad Mex, Grill’d burgers or the Snag Stand (for top notch hot dogs, some served on a brioche bun).

top-juiceTop 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, Noodle Haus, Sushi Natto and Motto Motto.

motto-motto-1Motto 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.

motto-motto_super-setThere are lots of sets and deal upgrades, one of the best being the Motto Motto Super set which comprises five small bowls of goodness for $19.80: 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! Two Seasons will provide you with your caffeine fix as well as sandwiches and salads. The Coffee and Tea Factory also serves sweets and high teas.

chi-ran-2Hero Sushi, Chi Ran Vegetarian Bar 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.

bookfaceA few other food outlets are scattered through the centre, including Thai Spice (serving modern Thai street food), Bookface (books, sweet treats and great coffee) and Café 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.

yum-cha-cuisine-1The 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. Restaurants are opening one by one in this area, the upmarket Aquitaine being one of the first, flagging that the area’s predominantly fine dining. Featuring the gorgeous food of Rhys Roberts (formerly of Chill on Tedder), Aquitaine promises a fabulous dining experience.

yum-cha-cuisineFlanking either side of the northern entrance of the centre are Yum Cha Cuisine and Torii. 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.

yum-cha-cuisine_seafood-combinationShare 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.

torii_torii-roll-with-tempura-prawn-grilled-eel-and-trufflesGyoza with foie gras and beef, or truffled sushi served with the rare Suntori Premium beer? Welcome to Torii, for fine casual Japanese food as we rarely see it. Beautifully presented, each dish at Torii is an absolute treat of freshness and taste. Be prepared to open your wallet for quality, however. With beers priced between $10 – $22 (there’s also some fine whiskies on offer), a Torii roll filled with tempura prawn and grilled eel with radish, shallots and truffle, scattered with pomegranate seeds served with balsamic and spicy mayo will set you back $30.

torii_hitsumabushi2Hitsumabushi with grilled eel and fresh seafood served with Japanese rice and broth to pour over for a ‘second course’ served in a hot stone bowl is $32. But there is nothing ordinary about this food. It’s premium quality, served with graceful dignity in a beautiful venue.

lello-lello_sharon-yoshFormer owners of La Porchetta in Toowoomba and the Sandbar Beach Café near St Kilda, the Yosh family bring a lifetime of hospitality experience to Lello Lello Gelati & Dessert Café. Lello Lello, named after Lello Lavezzi, the man who developed the recipe in his shop in Italy, stocks luscious gelati, all made in the store. The most popular flavours are salted caramel, as well as peanut butter and their own ‘nudella’ (made in store), though fruit flavours will be in demand as the hotter weather approaches.

lello-lello_cookie-sandwichAs well as gelati, there are macarons, baci gelato and hazelnut filled cannoli, sundaes served in waffle baskets, and cookie sandwiches filled with fiore di panna. You know where we’ll be hanging out this summer! #getinmytummy Look out for the family’s popup gelati shop outside K-Mart soon!

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.

bin-232_oystersWith Robina soon to open its 55-store-strong foodie area, The Kitchens, it will be interesting to see the slant and demographic appeal it chooses. The Kitchens promises something different again to the Pacific Fair experience: ‘Capri on Via Roma on steroids’ is the whisper, with artisan makers and cooking classes on view… Lots of speculation and only glimpses for now as the venue leaks out information bit by bit.

What Pacific Fair and Robina both show us is that preconceptions of shopping centre dining have been blown out the window. 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

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