A NEW dining experience has landed in Newcastle with the opening of Asian bar and diner, Light Years.
The 110 capacity venue opened on Darby Street on Wednesday, becoming the fourth Light Years venue on the East Coast, joining the original in Byron Bay as well as locations in Noosa and Burleigh Heads.
The venue in Newcastle is the largest across the group and embraces the signature tropical style of the other locations (local team Something More Design came on board to handle the interior design), with a peach colour palette, curved booth seating and marble tables, two large palm trees in the centre, colourful marble crazy pave flooring and paper lanterns hanging from the venue's impressive high ceilings.
Set to a soundtrack of funk and disco, it's fun and relaxed. Enjoy a cocktail at the bar or settle in to choose from the food menu, designed to be shared: dumplings, small bites, curries and substantial mains.
Think big flavours and generously proportioned dishes full of texture and crunch.
Expect an inspired twist on Asian food, with executive chef Robbie Oijvall, who kicked off his career at Wagamama in London offering feature dishes exclusive to Newcastle such as wagyu steak wrapped in lettuce with herbs, pickles and sauces; tempura prawn roll served in a brioche bun with house-made tartare and pickled green chilli; and butter chicken bao buns with spiced mango, cucumber and lettuce.
Also on the menu: kingfish ceviche with coconut, chilli and kaffir lime; crispy pork and pineapple with sticky chilli caramel, peanuts and herbs; and turmeric and coconut fish curry.
"It's a very clean menu," Oijvall says. "There is nothing overpowering or too sweet. They are very familiar flavours but done in a different way. I have learned to think outside the square, to be able to separate ourselves."
There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian options, as well as a kids menu.
Cocktails are another big part of the Light Years experience, from the yuzu sour with gin, creme de violette, yuzu and lemon juice, bitters and foam to the pineapple margarita with tequila, pineapple, lime and agave.
"Everything has a bit of an Asian twist on the cocktail list, everything is freshly juiced in-house - pineapple juice, cucumber juice, whatever it is," owner and creative director Kim Stephen says. "There is an Asian element in each cocktail, they're fun, they're fruity. They complement our food really well in the sense that the food is bold and punchy and bright and full of flavour.
"It's special occasion food and something you really look forward to going out to, and the cocktails are the same. They stand up on their own as well: really bold, fun, lots of flavour."
Light Years will operate for dinner from Wednesday to Sunday but plan to open seven nights a week and for lunch service from Friday to Sunday in the New Year.
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