Light Years is the handiwork of Melbourne native Kim Stephen, who set out to create a fun, vibrant space to showcase a traditional Vietnamese menu peppered with South East Asian flavours. If you’re trying to rack your brain as to what the name Light Years means, then stop. It intentionally has little do with the cuisine, allowing the dining space to draw on different regional flavours and be totally flexible with their offering. So, whilst Light Years is effectively a Vietnamese restaurant, you’ll also find elements of Thai, Chinese and Japanese flavours dotted across the dishes. This refreshing take on traditional fare is driven by head chef Robbie Oijvall, formerly of Bondi’s China Diner, who has curated an offering that is fast, fresh and jam-packed with flavours. The eclectic fit-out, created by renowned design duo Alida and Miller, certainly sets the scene for what comes out on the plates.
Pho lovers can tuck into a fragrant 12-hour broth topped with the likes of poached chicken and beef fillet, or the less carnivorous can enjoy the shiitake-based pho broth with tea-smoked tofu and broccolini. If you’re up for a mouth bang, go for the fried chicken with sriracha mayo and charred lime, the sticky chilli caramel pork belly or get acquainted with the prawn and ginger wontons with black vinegar and chilli oil. The bahn mi (Vietnamese baguette) is served with house-made pate, slaw, mayo, cucumber, Asian herbs and house pickles, before being filled with meaty additions like pork sausage, coconut and lime chicken, and barbecued cumin lamb. Everything from the sauces to the apple and cucumber kimchi is made fresh in house. There are plenty vegetarian and vegan options on offer, and if gluten ain’t your friend, then this menu will be. When the sun sets, the vibe kicks up a notch – the cocktails and ice-cold beers flow alongside the food, all to the tune of 90s RnB jams (what a dream).
Light Years is located at 3/17 Lawson Street, Byron Bay. Check out the menu and opening hours online (then get in the car and drive down there).
Image credit: Kim Stephen