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Byron Shire
February 1, 2023

Light Years Asian Bar and Diner, Jonson Lane

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Light Years Asian Diner – photo Jessie Prince.

As you drive past the Jonson Lane precinct at the southern end of Jonson Street you will likely see patrons spilling onto the bluestone pavers from the new Light Years Asian Diner. Energetic folk have been lining up to experience the second Byron iteration of this popular phenomena since it opened in early November.

Light Years first launched at 17 Lawson Street in Byron – fronting Bay Lane – in 2017. Since that time the duo behind the brand – James Sutherland and Kim Stephen – have opened in Newcastle, Burleigh and Noosa. With each individual restaurant having their own distinct dishes, décor and personality.

‘We wanted to do something really special for Byron, where our journey began’, said Sutherland, who is joined at Jonson Lane by Head Chef, Joachim Borenius (ex Mjølner Sydney), and Executive Chef, Robbie Ojjvall.

The experience is tropical modern coastal – from the interiors to the punchy menu, music and cocktail list (showcasing originals like ‘Netflix and Chill’ with popcorn infused rum, passionfruit and lemon, ‘Kiwi Matcha Margi’ with tequila, kiwi puree, matcha syrup and lime and ‘Szechuan Sour’ infused with gin, Aperol, vermouth and orange). 

The menu is substantial and accessible. Kids meals are $14. There are small, medium and large plates, a selection of dumplings, bao buns and sides. Numerous menu items evoke memories – there is something fabulously retro about the modern take on some classic Asian favourites. Like honey king prawns with typhoon shelter crumbs; fire cracker chicken (mee goreng spiced fried chicken with fire cracker sauce, Thai basil and chilli). Or the prawn toast donuts with yuzukoshu dipping sauce. 

Also on the menu: Singapore chilli prawns from the wok, crispy masterstock pork belly, sticky chilli caramel, charred pineapple, herbs, pickled papaya and cabbage slaw and watermelon salad with kaffir lime, lemongrass, shisho and nuoc cham.

There are a range of beers on tap and a wine list to be proud of.

Partnering with local firm Studio Plenty, Byron Bay designer and furniture maker Sarah Ellison chose the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakech as inspiration for the restaurant interior. With its curves, muted terracotta, pastels and timber, the vibrancy is catching. If you’re not already on holiday you will get into the spirit pretty quickly. All the furniture was custom designed by Sarah, a process which took over two years during COVID lockdowns.

‘Sarah is very coastal’ said James Sutherland. ‘Very vibrant through her colours and textures. It was a logical partnership. The first Byron Light Years was done on a thrifty budget and we have grown up since then’.

Sutherland is humbled by the response the restaurant has received. ‘We have been open less than two months and we are just really grateful for the reaction and the support from locals’.

The new Light Years Asian Diner, which is open seven days for lunch and dinner, is a bustling light filled success. 

139 Jonson Street, Byron Bay.

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