See & do

Fresh is best: Gold Coast seafood at its finest

Marj Osborne | December 19, 2017

When it comes to purchasing and consuming fish and seafood, freshness should be a priority.

With the polluting of oceans, the prevalence of overfishing and mercury levels in seafood climbing higher and higher, sourcing local, sustainable and fresh seafood has never been more important.

The Gold Coast, which is lucky enough to be situated along pristine coastline on the Pacific Ocean, boasts a thriving seafood industry. Local fish mongers are making it their priority to not only supply top-notch local seafood, but are passionate about educating consumers about developing a keener awareness of the fish they eat.

Greg Kay, owner of Reef Seafood + Sushi, says it is important that more and more people seek fish that is healthy for them and the environment.

“When you look at fresh local fish versus imported product, there are three factors worth considering: flavour, food standards and handling,” says Greg Kay, owner of Reef Seafood + Sushi.

“Lots of overseas fishermen don’t use ice and their fishery waters don’t follow the same standards we do here. The rule of thumb with seafood is ‘the closer the better’.”

Reef’s Southport restaurant employs around 18 people, with two of the most senior staff having half a century of seafood industry knowledge between them, as well as a qualified Japanese seafood chef with almost as many years’ experience.

The business specialises in fresh Australasian seafood as well as Japanese-inspired seafood dishes.

Sourcing the best local, interstate and New Zealand fish, Reef’s unique specialities include live seafood, spanner crabs (and meat), prawns from Gold Coast and Mooloolaba trawlers, lobster and mud crabs direct from the boats, white fish from South East Queensland, oysters and caviar.

Meanwhile, Pacifica Trading – an importing, wholesale and retail business on the Gold Coast specialising in fresh and frozen seafood, is also raving about the seafood industry in the city.

“Local product is fresher and there is more variety,” says Pacifica’s Sara Comi.

“The public is more familiar with local species as well. The benefit of locally sourced product includes freshness and quality product.”

She adds that the Gold Coast is lucky to have such clean waters on its doorstep.

“The Gold Coast is a great place for fishmongers due to its location being so close to the ocean,” says Comi.

“We have a great range of local product. We upload directly from fishing boats and speak with fishermen on a daily basis. We know two days in advance what we are going to be able to get and we are often able to source the fish and deliver it to restaurants and customers on the same day.”

Tuna Tataki

Toothfish from Ten Japanese

Seared scampi with foie gras, apple and mizuna from Kiyomi

Pacifica Trading occupies a modern, purpose built premises together with seafood processing and packing facilities, chillers, cold storage and wholesale seafood market.

While local fishmongers talk up the quality of local seafood, chef and environmental scientist Simon Grigalius adds that the general public has a role in driving the market towards a better product; in this case fresh, sustainable and ethically caught seafood.

“Eat local seasonal seafood (mackerel, bream and skipjack) instead of the usual imported ‘fish of the day’ – basa,” he says. “Just think of the food miles that would be saved.”

Meanwhile, the Gold Coast Fishermen’s Co-operative was one of the first developments on the Spit at Main Beach, established in 1970.

The trawlers are still there, located not far from the luxurious Palazzo Versace. Every night a fleet of 18 boats – prawn trawlers, long line fishing vessels and several spanner crab boats – operate off the Gold Coast, bringing home a load of Eastern King prawns, spanner crabs, Balmain bugs, sand crabs, octopus and squid.


Fisherman’s Co-operative, Seaworld Drive


Richard Hamilton, Chairman of the Gold Coast Fishermen’s Co-operative, outlined the daily schedule of a Gold Coast prawn trawler:

“Weather permitting, the trawlers leave the Co-op at around 4:00pm daily,” he says.

“They return around 7:30am the following morning. During the course of the evening they grade and cook their catch, returning with cooked and uncooked product for the customer.”

The Gold Coast Fishermen’s Co-Operative employs around 50 locals to work on the boats as crew.

Hamilton says that buying straight from trawlers means you are not only supporting local jobs, but you are buying from fishermen who made the catch just a few hours earlier.

“It’s important to buy local seafood to support the local industry,” Hamilton says.

“If the public does not support us, the industry will die out and the only product available will then be imported or farmed. Our local seafood is some of the cleanest and most sustainable in the world.”


Looking for fresh seafood straight from the boat? We have you covered…

Gold Coast Fishermen’s Co-op

You can find out about the fishermen’s daily catch without leaving home. Check out the Fishermen’s Co-op’s blog for news of the catch, prices, upcoming events and even recipes:

168 Seaworld Drive, Main Beach | Ph: 07 5528 5783

Pacifica Trading

In 2010, Carmelo and Pauline Comi made a huge investment in Gold Coast seafood with the opening of Pacifica Trading – an importing, wholesale and retail business specialising in fresh and frozen seafood. Although Pacifica services the wholesale and hospitality trade Australia-wide, there is also a public seafood market on the ground floor that sells directly to the public.

273 Scottsdale Drive, Robina | Ph: 07 5592 7888

Charis Seafood

Salvi Vinaccia and Jim Stamoudis both bring a lifetime of experience in the seafood industry across the South Pacific to the Gold Coast. Their joint venture, Charis, has one of the best and most diverse displays of seafood on the coast; top quality and sparkling fresh. It’s one of the few big suppliers who also cook hot seafood to take away. Charis also has a top location, being situated on the Broadwater.

371 Marine Parade Labrador | Ph: 07 5527 1100


Hot smoked salmon from The Fish Emporium


Tasman Star Seafoods

Tasman Star Seafoods is a wholesale outlet that sells to smaller fish shops, but retails to the general public. Their display cabinets only stock Australian and New Zealand product. Patrons receive daily catch specials by text, oysters are shucked on site daily, and prices are keen.

20 Casua Drive, Varsity Lakes | Ph: 07 5522 1221

Looking for a Gold Coast restaurant that does amazing seafood dishes? Again, we have you covered…

Ristorante Fellini

Ristorante Fellini is supporting local trawlers and serving diners the freshest seafood on the coast thanks to a changing menu that operates on one golden rule –local and fresh seafood is best.

The menu’s ‘Pesce del Giorno’ dish is regularly re-invented by talented Head Chef Richard Burt, who personally visits the local trawlers and fishermen selecting the best catch on the coast, such as Sequel Seafood’s ocean fresh prawns, caught just 10 nautical miles away from the plates they are served on.

Chef Burt says locally sourcing seafood helps him ensure only the highest quality produce is served to Fellini’s diners.

“We source prawns and fish from the local fishermen and trawlers on The Spit within metres of Ristorante Fellini, ensuring fresh seafood is delivered from the ocean directly to the customer’s plate within a matter of hours,” he says.

Level 1, Marina Mirage, 74 Seaworld Drive, Main Beach | Ph: 07 5531 0300

Reef Seafood + Sushi

Reef’s Southport restaurant employs around 18 people, with two of the most senior staff having half a century of seafood industry knowledge between them, as well as a qualified Japanese seafood chef with almost as many years’ experience. The business specialises in fresh Australasian seafood as well as Japanese-inspired seafood dishes.

Ferry Road Markets, 107 Ferry Road, Southport | Ph: 07 5528 4477

The Fish Emporium

Capri on Via Roma now boasts a fish and chip restaurant to be proud of. Co-owner Peter Cianci has renovated the fishmonger to include an oyster bar and an invitingly hot new menu, launching an upmarket dine in and take away seafood restaurant, with a stellar view of water to Surfers Paradise.

“Everything is fresh here,” Cianci says. “Our fishmongers prepare fish daily for both The Fish Emporium and Edgewater as well as for retail sales.”

Oysters, a centrepiece of the menu, are shucked daily, served in sets of four with wine pairings recommended. Sashimi, local mud crab in season, coconut prawns and grilled baby octopus lead us up to ‘the daily catch’ – the best fillets of whole fish from Australia and New Zealand or fresh crustaceans straight from the tank.

Capri on Via Roma, Isle of Capri | Ph: 07 5539 9257

Edgewater Dining and Lounge Bar

Cianci’s more formal restaurant, Edgewater Dining & Lounge Bar sits a few metres from The Fish Emporium. It is an inviting, thoughtfully appointed space, with an incredible view. While it is not primarily a seafood restaurant, seafood stars on the menu, sourced daily from the adjoining Fish Emporium. Local prawns, Moreton Bay bugs and Hervey Bay scallops feature on the menu.

Capri on Via Roma, Isle of Capri | Ph: 07 5570 1624

The Fish House

The Fish House, formerly owned by restaurateur Simon Gloftis, makes seafood the main fare. The Norfolk pine-framed ocean just beyond the restaurant’s front windows provides the backdrop to the meal, the source from which the best Australian seafood has been plucked.

50 Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads | Ph: 07 5535 7725


Hellenika, founded by entrepreneur Simon Gloftis, offers the freshest seafood from around Australia, changing daily according to supply. The origin of all seafood is marked on the menu: local king prawns, spanner crab, swordfish, octopus, baby calamari and King George whiting from South Australia, and whole baby snapper from Victoria featured on the menu on different occasions. Head Chef Michael Watts, who came across from The Fish House early in 2016, has brought with him the magnificent psarosoupa lemony fish soup, which starred on The Fish House’s menu. Fresh as the salty water off our shores, Hellenika’s seafood is the best Gloftis can source, from local waters and beyond.

2235 Gold Coast Highway, Nobby Beach Ph: 07 5572 8009


Hellenika owner, Simon Gloftis with fresh South Australian knobby snapper (shot at Hellenika, Nobby Beach)

Fresh local pippies from Hellenika

Grilled NT snapper with lemon butter from Aqua

Omeros Bros Seafood Restaurant

Owned by the Omeros family, who boast more than 40 years running seafood restaurants, Omeros was a gold plate award-winning restaurant for many years. Little has changed. It’s a traditional seafood restaurant; the seafood being the main focus on the plate, plainly presented without pretence. Oysters, prawns, Hervey Bay scallops, Moreton Bay bugs, snapper, barramundi –they’re all here in abundance, grilled, beer battered, crumbed or mornay. Our favourite is the local snapper, grilled with lemon butter sauce and served a side a chips; simple but delicious.

Marina Mirage, 74 Seaworld Drive, Main Beach | Ph: 07 5591 7222

Aqua Front

Settled on the Gold Coast for just over a year, Nick and Rodica Bahlas decided to put their lifetime of experience at Lazy Lobster (Brighton le Sands) to good use, opening Aqua Front in the Aqua building, Labrador. With views across the Broadwater to SeaWorld, their modest restaurant places emphasis on the quality of their seafood. Sourcing only fresh (not frozen) seafood from around Australia, they’re very choosy in what they buy. Moreton Bay bugs, whiting and prawns are local, with barramundi and goldband snapper flown in from the Northern Territory on ice.

6/300 Marine Parade, Labrador | Ph: 07 5527 0828


Our best Japanese restaurants should not be forgotten in our search for seafood. Often presented raw, the freshness of their seafood, sourced locally when appropriate or flown in on ice, is of paramount importance. As a central piece in their $345 million redevelopment, The Star Gold Coast opened Kiyomi with Executive Head Chef Chase Kojima (ex-Nobu and Sokyo) at its helm. Enjoy the freshest sashimi and sushi, or seared scampi with foie gras, apple and mizuna, the empty scampi shells standing guard around their lightly seared sashimi-like meat.

The Star Gold Coast, Broadbeach Island, Broadbeach | Ph: 07 5592 8100

Grilled snapper in lemon butter from Omeros Seafood Restaurant

Omeros Brothers Seafood Restaurant

Ten Japanese

Behind giant stainless steel doors in the Meriton Pegasus Building, patrons embark on a unique Japanese dining journey. Ten represents the essence of timeless simplicity in a most sophisticated way: a series of intimate yet luxurious dining areas which seat less than 40 guests. The menu shows off the house specialisties: sushi, teppanyaki, and kaiseki-style dishes in a range of set menus or à la carte, packed with top calibre international ingredients, including local and international delicacies such as toothfish, (also known as Australian Sea Bass), certified as sustainable in Australia.

4/2679 Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach | Ph: 07 5570 1010

The Fish Shak

There’s nothing that compares to a great fish and chip shop with a water view – exactly what you get at The Fish Shak. The latest venture of Liz and Justin Allie (also co-owners of Longboards Laidback Eatery) has seen the former Café Rockpool transform into an upmarket yet casual licensed dine in or take away seafood restaurant.

Broadwater Parklands is a favourite spot for family days out, making Fish Shak well placed to draw a crowd. With vibrant nautical murals by graphic artists Frank & Mimi, spotlessly clean surfaces and crisp food presentation, Fish Shak holds great appeal to tourists and locals alike.

“We use locally sourced sustainable seafood, delivered fresh each day and prepared in our temperature-controlled prep room by our fishmonger,” Justin says. “It costs only a dollar or so more to eat a sustainable piece of local fish instead of flake or basa, but it will go a long way in terms of fish stocks and the future of quality seafood.”

Panko-crumbed, Stone & Wood beer battered or grilled, fish is available for one or in a family pack. Oysters are shucked daily, joining fish burgers, tender calamari, prawns, fish cakes and scallops plus fresh salads on a diverse menu. Coffee, cold drinks, ice creams and snacks are served from the Shak Espresso window facing the Broadwater, streamlining service.

Broadwater Parklands, 56 Marine Parade, Southport | Ph: 07 5532 0109