You have to hand it to chef Kuilin William Wu – he’s not afraid to push the boundaries when it comes to sharing his lifelong love of seafood.
He could have opened his spectacular new restaurant Fish Lab – complete with on-site smoking room and ice-packed displays – in a more traditional Sydney or Melbourne precinct and had punters queuing up around the corner.
Instead the Chinese-raised, award-winning chef, has taken a punt on his adopted homeland by showcasing his skills smack-bang in the middle of a busy shopping mall.
But luckily for discerning seafood fans, it’s not just any cookie-cutter suburban food court.
Fish Lab sits in the recently opened foodie heaven, The Kitchens, the $160 million jewel in the mega-mall crown of the Gold Coast’s Robina Town Centre.
Kuilin’s neighbours include a slew of hospitality heavyweights, such as the Honeyeater Kitchen, MasterChef judge George Calombaris’ first Queensland restaurant Jimmy Grants, and an impressive array of purpose-built open kitchens for food-tastings, workshops and masterclasses.
It’s an audacious face-lift for a place more traditionally frequented by clothes-shoppers than foodies.
But Kuilin, an instant hit with his GC debut Twisted Modern Dining, has faith in his fellow Queensland seafood lovers – and the steady stream of local and international tourists, which is set to peak when the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games starts on April 4.
The Carousel stopped by for a weekend lunch and was immediately won over by the airy fusion of Japanese, industrial and Scandinavian design elements.
The star of the show, however, is undoubtedly the fresh ice-packed catch on display between the seating area and the busy kitchen.
Your menu choice couldn’t get any fresher if you were long-lining it off Broadbeach, just 8km away.
For our main we chose a delicious wild caught fish of the day [Yellowtail Kingfish on our visit] in a white miso and mirin marinate, with vegetables and taro puree ($39). Perfectly balanced and bursting with freshness and flavour.
There’s something here for every taste and budget, including a bargain takeaway $12 [fresh] fish and chips basket if you’re in a hurry. But, if you are sitting in, don’t leave without at least sampling Fish Lab’s signature fish prosciutto ($24), a dry-aged Hiramasa Yellowtail Kingfish served with a gorgeous ginger honey-glaze and rye chips.
Until then, to get a sample of why Fish Lab has us hooked, try the recipe below that Kuilin has prepared exclusively for The Carousel.
Crispy Fried Fish With Fragrant Herbs, Green Mango, Modern Thai Dressing
- Fish sauce – 60ml
- Red chilli – 3 whole
- Palm sugar – 80gm
- Ginger grated – 30gm
- Lime zest – 1 lime
- Lime juice – 1 lime
- Galangal grated – 50gm
- Water – 100ml
- Ice – 40gm
- Bring water to boil, turn off heat, add palm sugar, stir till sugar dissolve completely
- Add ice to cool down sugar water
- Cut chilli length way, scrap out seeds and vines, finely chop
- Add all other ingredients
- Stir well and store in fridge
Chef’s note: “It’s best to make this dressing one day before use; the flavour will develop a lot more overnight”
Fragrant Herb Mix
- Vietnamese mint
- Thai basil
- green shallot
- Quickly wash herbs in ice water to remove dirt, leave on side to drain on paper towel
- Hand pick all leafs of herbs, finely slice green shallot, mix together and leave on side for later
- Blue-eye trevalla from Tasmania – 600gm
- Fish sauce – 15ml
- Light soy sauce – 15ml
- Potato starch – 50gm
- Cut fish into 3cm pieces
- Marinate with fish sauce and light soy sauce for 15 minutes
- Coat fish nicely with potato starch and fry until it turns to golden brown
- Take out of oil and sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper
- Place on to kitchen paper towel to absorb oil
- Green mango – cut into thin julienne
- Beets and reddish – thinly sliced or cut into desired shapes
- Snow pea tendrils
- Arrange fish pieces and mango on plate
- Sprinkle herbs over
- Drizzle dressing over ingredients and plate
- Arrange other garnish over plate
- James Graham travelled to the Gold Coast courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland.