A quirky new eatery opens its freshly painted doors in Byron Bay. Foxy Luu’s combines two exciting faces of Asia, ‘pungent, fresh street food’ and ‘sultry red-light district’.
Two years ago, a street merchant in Hanoi called Luu inspired the restaurateurs Utku and Leilani for their next food project in Byron Bay. ‘I was wandering around the back streets of Hanoi in the hunt to discover a delicacy and bumped into Luu’s tiny eatery. She was pumping these quons rolls to a long line of locals,’ Utku says excitedly.
‘They were bursting with flavours, fresh and no fuss. Later that day I had a cheeky chat with Luu and found out that she used to be a known prostitute, before her quons changed her life.
‘For me, that moment was raw Asia, and I thought Australia could use a few more of these unpretentious hole-in-the-wall eateries with fresh, fast and affordable food. Since then, Luu and her shop sat at the back of my mind, until we found the little Byron spot in the Woolies carpark and bam! the idea came alive!’
Utku and Leilani own the popular Sefa Kitchen in Bondi and recently joined the wagon of Byron settlers starting a new family. ‘We wanted to slow down and have a more natural lifestyle after a couple years of full-time cheffing and studying nutrition,’ Leilani adds.
But then baby Kaio came into the world at the same time the shop’s approval came through, so the couple had to gear up. Leilani did extensive research into Asian street food and has made most of the menu from scratch. ‘More-ish food, good quality produce and keeping prices low are all super important here, and it’s taken a huge amount of work to get it right even before the doors opened.’
The eatery specialises in pillow-soft Gua Bao buns stuffed with housemade sauces and meats, sweetly pickled veg, Asian herbs and fresh veg, but they also serve up assorted dumplings, bone-broth soups, and papaya and gado gado salads. The place is perfect to grab and go or sit back and admire the art pieces dotted around the tiny space.
At night Foxy Luu’s turns in to a grungy hangout joint. The intimate room soaked in red light through the red umbrellas coating the ceiling, and Japanese R&B, take you to a hip hideaway. One wall is covered with retro Asian posters, Mao propaganda mixed with cheesy Asian beer ads, and the murals on the walls are painted by local Mullum artist Daniel Hend.
You can BYO bottle of wine from next door and taste a marathon of small bites from juicy prawn and shiitake mushroom beancurd rolls to kaffir lime and coconut panna cotta.
Foxy Luu’s. Shop 4A North Byron (Woolies) Plaza, 90 Jonson St, Byron Bay. Next to the bottleshop. Lunch seven days. Dinner Thurs, Fri and Sat. Facebook: Foxy Luus
Photos Ingrid Pullen Photography. The spectacular mural by Mullum artist Daniel Hend Photo Simon Haslam