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March 1, 2024

Kura and Sou: two authentic Japanese Byron restaurants

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Kento Saitoh and the crew from Kura and Sou restaurants: bringing the authentic Japanese touch to the centre of Byron Bay. Photos by Jeff ‘Before enlightenment, chop sticks. After enlightenment, chopsticks’ Dawson

Simon Haslam

Kura is an authentic Japanese restaurant serving yakitori, sushi and ramen, located in the heart of Byron Bay. As you’d expect, in addition to an enticing display of old sake and Japanese whisky bottles, the interior features a lot of simple, natural wooden tables and screens, but also a number of Japanese pictures and art objects adorn the walls.

In fact the name Kura refers to a traditional Japanese storehouse used to store and protect valuable items; its owner, Yuki, has curated a beautiful space with art pieces and design elements that marry the traditions of her home with the beautiful contemporary feel of an Izakaya gallery.

Kura is right in the centre of Byron, in Bay Lane, but up on the first floor – on our visit on a hot Sunday for lunch we could feel the sea breeze from our verandah seat. At night you’d be above the hustle and bustle of Bay Lane, and its combination of an open kitchen with a cosy interior expanding onto a deck above the laneway suggests it would be an exciting place to gather with friends. The restaurant takes pride in providing fresh local produce from the Byron Shire and the Byron Farmer’s Market, and its open kitchen concept means that you can watch the chefs at work.

Now, seven years after Kura’s opening, Sou has been born as a brother of Kura to liven up the place even more. Sou mainly serves Japanese ramen at lunch time (there is even a vegan ramen), but we had bao buns, eggplant tempura gyoza, karaage chicken (GF) and both seaweed and garden salads.

Kento Saitoh from Sou says, ‘We make roughly three kinds of authentic Japanese-style soup bases for now. Tonkotsu is our signature creamy and high-quality umami broth made from boiling pork bones for many hours. Our clear chicken soup is light, with less richness than Tonkotsu, but it still leaves an unforgettable impression. Our final combination, of organic soy milk and vegetable soup, is vegan, but its umami quality is as good as the others’.

Sou is soon to expand its takeaway options; Japanese rice bowls, for example, are perfect to have on Main Beach, or back at your workplace. Sou also does ‘ramen night’ every Tuesday and Wednesday (the days Izayaka Kura used to be closed), so the doors are now open seven nights a week.

Being right in the heart of Byron seems to be a position Kento and his crew want to embrace; as he says, ‘Kura and Sou both will continue to strive our best to each be a restaurant loved by our local community.’

Kura: kurabyronbay.com
or Ph 6685 6136

Sou: Instagram @soubyronbay
or Ph 6685 6136


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