Orient Express Eatery, Byron Bay – Review
The Orient Express Eatery
1/2 Fletcher St, Byron Bay, Australia +61 2 6680 8808
Even though I’ve moved to the Gold Coast, I have no issues driving the two hour round trip back to Byron Bay for no reason other than to eat at The Orient Express Eatery. Now that’s saying something.
There is something very special about this place, that to my mind, sets it apart from most typical Asian eateries. It’s not just the exotic red lanterns and cosy atmosphere, it’s not the efficient and always friendly service— it’s Tippy Heng. Tippy is the mastermind behind this modern Asian, oriental-teahouse-inspired dining experience. He has a food philosophy that is all about communal sharing, intimacy, generosity and friendship. In his personal introduction on the menu Tippy says that, ‘a gift of something edible or a creation of a wonderful meal is an expression of love’. Well Tippy and me, we’re on the same page.
The Orient Express Eatery in Byron Bay stands out as a high quality dining experience that never wavers from its excellent standards and gorgeous meals. As a health conscious eater, I love the fact that there is absolutely no MSG used in the cooking here. The flavours achieved by the expert chefs are balanced to perfection. At The Orient Express Eatery you can try dishes inspired from all over Asia—from Vietnamese-style fresh noodle salads and steaming Pho soup to a knockout Malaysian laksa all the way to the best darn Chinese sung choi bao I’ve ever tasted.
My personal favourite dish is the two-way tuna. It comes served in two enormous bowls—one with a seared piece of medium-rare fresh tuna on a bed of stir-fried vegetables in a smoky delicious sauce, while the other bowl holds a tuna sashimi salad with Asian greens and sea vegetables tossed in a light but mouth-watering dressing. If you’re finding this all a bit fancy you’ll be glad to know The Orient Express Eatery also does Yum Cha lunches on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, so you can dumpling yourself into a happy oblivion.
While you’re busy stuffing your face, why not accompany your food with a traditional Asian tea from their abundant selection of high quality and exotic blends. You can choose anything from Taiwanese Organic High Mountain Oolong Tea to organic Chinese herbal blends or the highly prized ‘Gyokuro’, a very special Japanese green tea. And while you’re sipping on that tea, have a glance at the to-die-for dessert selections that are all completely gluten free. There’s something very special about the honeycomb semi-freddo with berry compote and brandy snap wafers. Having said that, it’s hard to go past the warm black rice-and-coconut egg custard pudding and coconut ice-cream.
There are many small touches that make this place special and one of my absolute favourites is the gorgeous complimentary bowl of home-made pickled Asian style vegetables that comes to the table while you await your meal. The wait-staff are always smiling and genuine. The place is always buzzing (so you’d best book ahead of time), and with a price range of $15-$30 per dish it’s very reasonable. The food is fresh, the servings are generous and the flavours world class. The Orient Express Eatery offers a truly sophisticated but also cosy and down-to-earth modern Asian dining experience.
Rating: 4.5 to 5 stars
Review & photography by Carla Versitano