These days when a restaurant changes hands in Byron, there’s often a crew of PR/social-media managers, interior designers and menu consultants in the background, so it’s refreshing to see Carmen and FC doing all the work themselves after taking over Succulent Café in Byron Street, Byron.
Carmen, who ran a wine and cigar bar in Beijing, met FC while doing her Master of Business at Griffith Uni. The two are schoolmates and business partners; as if starting a restaurant isn’t demanding enough, FC has recently become a father for the first time – luckily for FC and his wife, his family has come to Australia to support them.
Succulent’s location is off the main drag, near Byron Quarter and Centrelink, but it’s built a reputation for daytime trade under previous owner Patrick. While retaining the western breakfast menu, the new direction is to add northeast Asian lunch and dinner. Visiting early in the morning, I tried an Asian twist on Eggs Benedict, a completely satisfying and bread-free alternative made deliciously with Japanese sushi rice.
Succulent aims to meet the demand for healthy Asian food in Byron: no MSG, free-range chicken/eggs, organic ingredients. Gluten-free, vegetarian and even vegan options are available.
Experienced chef Jupil, who has come to Byron from the Melbourne Korean restaurant scene, is Korean, but can make the whole range of northeast Asian styles, so expect a ‘change up’ with the menu becoming even more interesting.
Weekdays 11.30am–2.30pm there is a $10–14 lunch special menu featuring such ‘safe’ dishes as dumpling (made inhouse by chef Jupil and the team), traditional Udon noodle, Donburi (Japanese dish of rice topped with salad) and Teriyaki chicken wrap. But there are more adventurous dishes for dinner such as the Signature sizzling plate (stir-fried vegetables with choice of meat served on an iron plate), and some new fish dishes on the menu! The liquor licence is expected shortly for dinner (Mon–Sun 5.30–9pm; it’s BYO for the moment).
One sure-fire winner is Japanese Karaage Chicken (chef Jupil also makes Korean style), comprising crunchy deep-fried pieces of marinated free-range chicken, a sort of Korean KFC (but better) that tastes particularly good with beer.
Kids may never want to eat takeaway chicken again once they have tried the half-chicken and chips (wouldn’t that be a shame) or the lollypop-shaped crumbed octopus called Takoyaki pops.
Like many who come to the area, Carmen was a regular visitor to Byron before falling in love with the place and making the opportunity to open a business here. If you like northeast Asian cuisine, try the new Succulent Café on these warm summer days and nights.
3/8 Byron St, Byron Bay. Takeaway/private functions available. BYO. Open for breakfast Tue–Sun, lunch and dinner Mon–Sun (see above). Ph 6685 5711.