5 OF AUTHENTIC THE BEST FLAVOUR
Take your tastebuds on a trip at these authentic eateries, writes Denise Raward
MIDDLE EASTERN TABOON 514 CHRISTINE AVENUE, ROBINA
The menu of this Robina favourite underwent a refresh after owner Steven Isaacs returned from an extended trip to the Middle East last year. “We’ve added more share plates and a few new dishes like our falafel crumbed chicken.” Funnily enough, the Middle Eastern share plate style of eating was greeted with suspicion when Taboon first opened 14 years ago but is now right on trend. Taboon offers grilled meats, salads and homemade breads inspired by the popular suburban bakeries, grill and hummus houses of the Middle East, where Steven lived for 12 years. Steven’s thrilled his children Tomer and Romy are just as passionate about the family business, which also has a shopfront at The Pines, Elanora.
JAPANESE ITOSHIN 3/2484 GOLD COAST HIGHWAY, MERMAID BEACH
This locals’ favourite has been around for 31 years, starting out at Miami before moving north, and is now in the hands of the founder’s son Yusuke Ito. “My father started introducing people to Japanese food although he modified a few things to suit local tastes,” Yusuki says. “Now I’m taking it back to a more authentic Japanese theme.” Monday is Japanese banquet night. From Tuesday to Saturday the extensive menu returns with everything from sea urchin to wagyu, duck and tempura, but the restaurant is most revered for its sashimi and sushi.
CAMBODIAN BUNNATH KITCHEN EAST QUAY SHOPPING CENTRE, 13/44 COMMERCE DRIVE, ROBINA
This true local gem has the distinction of being the only Cambodian restaurant on the Gold Coast. According to owner Bunnath You, who came to Australia as a refugee 38 years ago, Cambodian cuisine — like the country itself — is somewhere between Thai and Vietnamese, with both French and Chinese influences. “It’s not as spicy as Thai but has its own flavours,” he says. Bunnath recommends the amok, a spicy yellow curry of either chicken or fish with spinach. “Here the protein is steamed rather than cooked in a pot like other curries,” Bunnath says.
LEBANESE RABBATH 7A/1837 GOLD COAST HIGHWAY, BURLEIGH HEADS
The Rabbath brothers want you to feel like you’ve come to their house for a Lebanese dinner prepared and shared, just as their late mother taught them, with love. With only 28 seats in the restaurant, the interaction from the kitchen and the warm service makes it feel like a family table. “A lot of people have suggested we get a bigger restaurant but the size is what’s special,” Patrick Rabbath says. There are two nightly sittings from Tuesday to Saturday where you’ll find consistently good dips, housebaked bread, meats and specialty dishes.
MALAYSIAN IPOH SATAY HOUSE 64 KARBUNYA STREET, MERMAID WATERS
Ipoh Satay House has been serving authentic dishes from the Ipoh region of Malaysia for 24 years. The cuisine, like the region, is Malay-Chinese, and long-term regulars are quick to tell the Hoi family they don’t want changes to the menu. Thomas Hoi has been in Australia for 40 years but worked as a street food hawker in his homeland. The restaurant is now run by his children Sam and Teresa. Teresa describes the food as “consistent and cheerful” and says the Aussie favourites are the beef rendang, Hainanese chicken and hawker-style noodles.