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Madame Za graces Coolangatta with her arrival

Visit Rydges Gold Coast Airport to chow down before you lift off.

Madame Za interior (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)
Madame Za interior (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)

Finding authentic flavours of Asia isn’t that much of a dilemma these days on the Gold Coast. Take your pick, and you can slip into a venue of choice and enjoy single designated cuisines or exciting fusions any night of the week. And one newly opened restaurant has taken this admiration of Far Eastern tastes and delivered a menu that is something directly off a redeye from Asia.

Madame Za located at Rydges Gold Coast Airport is the reason you’ll take a trip to the Gold Coast Airport, even without a plane ticket!

Heading up the kitchen is well travelled Chef Joel Bryant. After many years exploring vast Asian continents and even living for some time in the world’s happiest country of Bhutan, you might say he knows a thing or two about gastronomy from this part of the world. He tells us the menu pushes the limits on being wholly authentic while being enjoyed by the everyday Australian palate.

The offering is what you would call Asian fusion as you can eat your way through Thailand, Japan, India, Nepal and Bhutan with dishes and flavours present from all of these countries. To help you understand where certain dishes come from, you’ll even see on the menu subtle passport marks and airport codes beside each dish denoting where it’s from!

Braised Beef Massaman and Whole Fried Fish with coconut and tamarind sauce, Madame Za (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)
Braised Beef Massaman and Whole Fried Fish with coconut and tamarind sauce, Madame Za (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)

Entrees are split into four sections: Betel Leaves, Steamed, Bao Buns, and Fried. As expected, these dishes are great to share, meaning you can try some Peking Duck spring rolls beside Tempura eggplant bao buns, and before you know it, you’ve already eaten for two people and also from two different cuisines!

The mains offering has carefully been considered and you won’t find any bland ‘filler’ style dishes here. A dedicated curry offering has plates from right across the orient like a Nepalese Fish Curry (Barramundi) and a Japanese Golden Cauliflower Curry, whilst a stir fry menu includes a vegetarian Thai Pad See Ew with a Chinese Beef and Black Bean Noodles amongst others. Choose two of these plates and experience contrasting savours, or if you decide to head out for a meal with friends, be well prepared to eat your way across Asia.

The highlight of the mains to share is a Whole Fried Fish in coconut and tamarind sauce (baby snapper) — crispy, creamy, and as fresh as they come, arriving daily from just across the border in Tweed.

Beef and black bean noodles, Madame Za (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)
Beef and black bean noodles, Madame Za (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)

And how could we forget those with an eye for sweet things, the dessert offering will undoubtedly tempt you. Deep Fried Ice Cream anyone? Or perhaps an authentic Red Rice Pudding?! Oh yeah!

All in all, perhaps the biggest drawcard of Madame Za is you can swing in for a sensational lunch or decadent dinner before a flight or just after hitting the tarmac. No more airport food — winner!

Hours: Monday – Saturday, 12pm – 3pm & 5pm – 9pm
Where: Rydges Gold Coast Airport, Terminal Drive, Bilinga

Words by Alex Mitcheson.

Red Rice Pudding, Madame Za (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)
Red Rice Pudding, Madame Za (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)

8 of the best Chinese restaurants on the Gold Coast

Mr Hizola's (image supplied)
Mr Hizola's (image supplied)

Stick your hand up if you have a love for Chinese food! And who can blame you, being one of the richest and most diverse collections of foods you can experience — and on any night of the week for that matter! The most important aspects that make Chinese food so enjoyable are the abundant use of lavish and vibrant ingredients, creating diversified colour palettes and aromatic flavours which are impossible not to enjoy.

With a myriad of sub-styles and particular regions of China, all having their specific dishes, it equates to so many options for you, the diner. Therefore, claiming you don’t like Chinese food might imply you merely haven’t given it enough of a chance!

Whether you’re a seasoned Chow Mein fanatic or an amateur Peking Duck lover, our rundown of the best places to find Chinese cuisine on the Gold Coast will arm you with serious options next time you feel like pulling out your chopsticks.

Ally Chow (image supplied)
Ally Chow (image supplied)

Mr Hizolas
This street-side eatery is an informal affair and right at home on the bustling Gold Coast Highway in Burleigh Heads. The share style menu showcases delicious flavours which can be enjoyed by everyone — no food envy here. The menu is cleverly constructed with the offerings grouped under small dishes, big dishes, dim sum, noodles & rice. So very handy when you need to single out exactly what you are after, especially when your waiter is there with pen in hand! Having difficulty choosing? Choose the Emperor’s Feast and let them take care of it all for you.
Where: 1730 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads

Ally Chow
If you ever needed proof of Nobby Beach’s budding restaurant scene, then Ally Chow is a staple part of that motion. Stylish décor and a delectably distracting drinks list aren’t the final say here; you’ll find a moreish modern twist of Chinese (along with other Asian cuisines) with such plates as the Tempura Moreton Bay Bug Bao and Kingfish Ceviche on Betel Leaf, which are both sure to blow anyone’s tastebuds away.
Where: 2215 Gold Coast Highway, Nobby Beach

Mei Wei Dumplings
It’s no surprise to learn Mei Wei translates to delicious after you’ve taken your first bite at this quick and easy dumpling restaurant. A more straightforward affair than The Imperial, this place packs some seriously incredible flavours. Watch your chefs work their magic through an open-style kitchen before devouring heavenly dumplings. Our pick are the Shao Mai prawn and pork dumplings — or any of their other wok or BBQ dishes for that matter. Plus there’s a scrumptious selection of bubble teas available!
Where: The Star Gold Coast, Broadbeach

Grand Dynasty (Image: © 2019 Inside Gold Coast)
Grand Dynasty (Image: © 2019 Inside Gold Coast)

Grand Dynasty
Genuine yum cha eats await you at this Broadbeach favourite and you don’t have to wait until later in the day either, as they serve up lunch and dinner five days a week! Settle in and start things off with authentic dishes such as Sang Choy Bow before taking on Pork Spare Ribs with Peking Sauce or a Mongolian Beef Hot Pot. Do yourself a favour, though and save enough space for dessert: Banana fritters and Deep-fried ice cream, anyone? Done and done!
Where: 54 Victoria Avenue, Oasis Shopping Centre, Broadbeach

Yum Cha Cuisine
This award-winning franchise has you and your gang fully taken care of for Chinese delights when you find yourself on the go. With locations at Robina Town Centre, Pacific Fair, and Harbour Town: fuelling yourself up on Cantonese style small plates has never been so easy, and you can be sure it will help you carry on your (very deserved) shopping spree!
Where: Various locations

Hideaway Kitchen & Bar
It’s tough to look past this central Gold Coast venue as not one of the finest go-to places for guaranteed good food and top tipples. Although they are pretty upfront in being an Asian-fusion style restaurant, this doesn’t stop China’s tasty flavours from finding their way onto your plate. Need proof? Look no further than their Duck Breast Pancakes with Canton Sauce or the Szechuan Lamb Zian-Bing dumplings. You’ll thank us later.
Where:  2657 Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach

Hideaway Kitchen & Bar (image supplied)
Hideaway Kitchen & Bar (image supplied)

Miami Rice
One of the Gold Coast’s most highly revered Chinese restaurants — literally for decades! Ran by father and daughter duo Alan and Shoko Yap, this family business has an extensive collection of regular locals dropping by to be spoilt with mouth-watering Chinese and Malaysian-inspired dishes such as Sambal King Prawns and Malaysian Butter Chicken. So many people can’t be wrong, right?
Where: 2007 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads

Dragon Cove
Situated in Sanctuary Cove’s Marine Village and with marina-side views, Dragon Cove ticks all over the boxes when it comes to an elegant fit-out and refined atmosphere. It doesn’t stop here though. A thoroughly flavour-packed menu has Chinese classics dished up with a side of contemporary style. You MUST try the Teppan Black Pepper Beef – it’s simply incredible. Overall you’ll find a variety of dishes to satisfy any level of hunger and deciding when to drop by shouldn’t be an issue as they serve lunch and dinner six days a week.
Where: 1 Masthead Way, Sanctuary Cove

Words by Alex Mitcheson.

Dragon Cove Sanctuary Cove (image supplied)

16 reasons locals love Coolangatta

Rooftop of The Pink Hotel, Coolangatta (Image: © 2017 The Undercurrent)
Rooftop of The Pink Hotel, Coolangatta (Image: © 2017 The Undercurrent)

Coolangatta is our southernmost suburb and it’s almost like stepping back in time for a taste of the good old Gold Coast, a little slower and sleepier (the way we like it) but with a sprinkle of some seriously epic eats for good measure – dreamy.

If you’re a fan of chill coastal vibes and pumping surf, where you can soak up the sunshine all-day long and hop from beach to bar as your heart desires then Cooly’s good your name written all over it. The laidback lifestyle is just one of the reasons why locals love this little beachside suburb, but we’ve found another 16 for when you want to go exploring.

Dining at Franc Jrs. (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)
Dining at Franc Jrs. (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)

Franc Jr’s
I’ts called the famous pizzeria for a reason, Franc Jr’s have gotten a rep for dishing up the best pizzas on the Gold Coast – maybe even Queensland. Big call, I know but IYKYK. Home of their signature Sicilian square pizza, pop down for takeaway or dine in with a bottle of pinot to wash down your pizza. Our pick is the red strip with a pickled grape salad on the side (sounds weird but trust the process) and a frozen marg if you fancy a tipple.
Where: 2/102 Griffith Street, Coolangatta

Pipi's Restaurant, Rainbow Bay (image by Brooke Darling)
Pipi's Restaurant, Rainbow Bay (image by Brooke Darling)

Pipi’s Restaurant
Cooly brought in the big guns with Brisbane hospitality mavens, the Gambaro Group bringing Pipi’s to life and it’s something Southern Gold Coasters have been waiting for. Pipi’s is the newest seaside sensation to call Cooly home and you best believe our tastebuds can’t get enough of it. Nothing to be crabby about with a Mediterranean-inspired menu – Chargrilled Mooloolaba King Prawns and Freemantle Octopus Carpaccio just a couple of the stars of the show. If you’re feeling boujee then treat yourself to a Kaviari Caviar Bump – served with a shot of Belvedere or glass of Tattinger.

Special mention to the cafe-style sequel to this suave new seafood nosher, Awaken Cafe. Situated underneath Pipi’s Awaken thos caffeine-slinging counterpart is giving girl-next-door (but, y’know, downstairs) in the very best way.
Where: Level 1/275 Boundary Street, Coolangatta

Kefi Cafe, Coolangatta (Image: © 2024 Inside Gold Coast)
Food at Kefi Cafe, Coolangatta (Image: © 2024 Inside Gold Coast)

Kefi
Kefi popped up on the café scene in late 2023 and their suitably summer vibe has been gracing our social channels here, there and everywhere. With coffee and food as delicious as the interiors are gorg it’s the kind of spot we could just spend all morning long at. With a Mediterranean twist on your classic brekky favourites, fuel up with a feed or pop in for the viral strawberry matcha and take a stroll on the beach because, wholesome.
Where: Corner of Griffith & McDonald Street, 2/110 Marine Parade, Coolangatta

Interior of Cooly Breeze Restaurant and Bar, Coolangatta (image supplied)
Interior of Cooly Breeze Restaurant and Bar, Coolangatta (image supplied)

Cooly Breeze
There’s something about being beach side and on a rooftop that just hits different, throw some fine dining into the mix and that’s our kind of trifecta. Executive chef Marcondes Almeida Neto has combined gastronomy with the flavours of the Medierranean Coast for bold flavours you’ve never tasted before. A feast for your eyes and your tum, the dishes are almost too pretty to eat… almost.
Where: Level 13 of Beachcomber International Resort, 122 Griffith Street, Coolangatta

Coolangatta Pie Shop
This iconic Gold Coast pie shop has been around for more than 50 years, so it’s no wonder they’re serving up some of the tastiest pies around. We’re partial to a baked good and fortunately, the Coolangatta Pie Shop have them aplenty – perfect for that post surf carb load.
Where: 50 Griffith Street, Coolangatta

Maverick Hair & Art (image supplied)
Maverick Hair & Art (image supplied)

Maverick Hair & Art Studio
If you’ve been looking for a place to tame that mane then say less, because Maverick Hair & Art Studio’s got your back. Or hair, I guess. The award-winning salon and of course, their stylists, know their way around the locks and can we just say – they do one of the best blondes we’ve seen on the GC, and that’s no easy feat. The refined industrial feel is a pretty little paradise to sit back and relax while you’re pampered, which is exactly what you want when you’re investing hours in those tresses – t’s the crown you never take off, after all. No bad hair days here
Where: First Floor, 1/17 Griffith Street, Coolangatta

Bar Evelyn
This place has been a hotspot for locals and visitors ever since it popped up on Marine Parade a couple of years ago. Cooly’s home of antipasto and pasta, you best believe we want a pizza that. Our picks? If you’re a seafood lover like us then the bug bucatini and pickled mussels with bottarga mayo, cucumber and dill are a must try. Sweeten the deal with their house-made tiramisu – do as the Italians do, we say – and one of their season sours.
Where: Shop 20/58 Marine Parade, Coolangatta

Clay Cantina (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)
Clay Cantina (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)

Clay Cantina
One thing about us is that we are always down for a Mexican moment. Now let’s taco-bout the margs, specifically the Laneway Marg – just trust us when we say their signature agave inspired bev is everything you’ve been looking for in a marg and more. Taste the flavours of all your fave Mexican fare, or if you’d rather a hands on approach to your dining experience, get the crew together for their signature cooking classes where you’ll get up close and personal with their most-loved recipes. Gracias!
Where: 2/16 Griffith Street, Coolangatta

Greenmount Beach Surf Club (image supplied)
Greenmount Beach Surf Club (image supplied)

Greenmount Beach Surf Club
With unsurpassed views in a northerly direction, you can take in everything overlooking the spectacular Greenmount Beach right up to the skyline of Surfers Paradise and, on some days, beyond. If the surf’s up, watched the surfers below shred waves or wipe out with an ice cold schooner in hand.
Where: Marine Parade, Coolangatta

Cinebar Licensed Cinema, Coolangatta (image supplied)
Cinebar Licensed Cinema, Coolangatta (image supplied)

Cinebar
Forget that there was a ripper cinema in Cooly? How could you! It’s time you get acquainted with Cinebar, a restaurant-style movie experience where you can get the full dinner, drinks and show vibe without having to lift a finger – or leg for that matter. Because we’re all about efficiency, kick back and catch up on the freshest flicks while you’re wined and dined for the ultimate date night with your special someone or your gal pals.
Where: The Strand at Coolangatta

4 Pines Coolangatta (image supplied)
4 Pines Coolangatta (image supplied)

4 Pines
On the brew-tiful beach front you’ll find one of the vibiest beachside breweries we know, the ultimate for whether you’re escaping the surf or just looking for a spot to kick back with live tunes and a beer in hand. You’ll find all your 4 Pines favourites, like the classic Pacific Ale for a fresh and fruity finish or the Pale Ale for a more crisp and citrusy taste, on tap and calling your name. Well, what are you waiting for – hop to it!
Where: The Strand, 28/72 Marine Parade, Coolangatta

Ottimo Gelato (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)
Ottimo Gelato (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)

Ottimo
If you want the inside scoop then here it is – if you want to be served up gelato the Italian way, Ottimo know that sticking to tradition is anything but boring. Having studied at the Gelato University of Carpigiani (yes, that’s a thing), owner Davide let’s his Italian heritage swirl through each delicious morsel whether it’s Ferrero Rocher or passionfruit flavoured. We give it an High Distinction!
Where: 18/52 Marine Parade, Coolangatta

Timezone
Nothing like a bit of healthy competition to get the heart rate up, blitz your bestie with more than 200 classic arcae games to choose from. With full-sized bowling lanes, dodgem cars and laser skirmish there’s something for all ages – including the big kids at heart.
Where: Level 1, 72-80 Marine Parade, The Strand, Coolangatta

The Pink Hotel exterior (Photo by @sydneygirl63)
The Pink Hotel exterior (Photo by @sydneygirl63)

The Pink Hotel
Not a Cooly local? No problem, because one of our most aesthetic hotels just happens to call Coolangatta home! It’s impossible to miss the iconic pink glow of the Palm Springs inspired Pink Hotel, if it weren’t for the fact that you can spot the GC’s glorious skyline from it, we’d forgive you for thinking you were in the California desert. Originally a motel, the legends behind The Pink Hotel lovingly restored it to its current glory so now we gorg destination for the ultimate staycation – love that for us.
Where: 171 Griffith St, Coolangatta

Eddie's Grub House (Image: © 2017 Inside Gold Coast)
Eddie's Grub House (Image: © 2017 Inside Gold Coast)

Eddie’s Grub House
Rock ‘n roll meets fried chicken, burgers and whiskey: does it get any better than that? Get a mouthful of naughty but nice American classics in this soul food dive bar. They regularly have live music and karaoke nights if you’re feeling brave, it’s long been a Cooly institution for good grub and good vibes – for good reason!
Where: 171 Griffith Street, Coolangatta

Cooly Rocks On (image supplied)
Cooly Rocks On (image supplied)

Cooly Rocks On
It’s got to be one of the most colourful creations that Cooly has brought us, each and every year we love seeing Cooly transform into the home of motors and music with a dedicated festival to celebrate the lifestyle of yesteryear. Think Hot Rods, Elvis Tribute Artists, Swing Dancing, Pin Up Pageants and so much more,
Where: Marine Parade, Coolangatta

Words by Jacqueline Bojanowski.

Rydges Gold Coast Airport Hotel

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