There might be a different smoothie bowl for every day of the week in Byron Bay, but finding a bowl of great Chinese? That's another story. With the opening of Duk, an eating house in the centre of town, the quota has increased, with rice bowls topped with Chinese-style roast meats and greens now available seven nights a week.
Sarah Swan and Jeremy Burn of Byron café 100 Mile Table are behind the new 40-seater, which stays classic with a tight menu of five main choices: char siu, soy chicken, crisp-skinned roasted pork, roast duck and fried tofu. Going with a group means you can eat banquet-style, throwing in twice-cooked eggs and pickles for starters, but there's also a selection of individual bowls where the protein of your choice is served on rice with steamed greens. The five-spice and salted peanut chocolate cake is a must for dessert.
Roast pork, steamed greens and rice
Swan, who worked under Neil Perry at Wokpool and XO in Sydney in the late '90s and early 2000s, has flirted with the idea of opening a Chinese restaurant for some time, but it was the move to Byron followed by the opening of 100 Mile Table in 2014 that finally set the wheels in motion.
"The first place I go to when I'm back in Sydney is Chinatown," Swan says. "You've never been able to get that here."
The core dishes by chefs Ryan Bussey and Bryce Latter are complemented by a changing line-up of house condiments such as green sriracha, roasted chilli sauce and a plum sauce based on a recipe by Amy Chanta, founder of celebrated Sydney Thai restaurant group Chat Thai. The greens also come from Boon Luck Farm - owned by Chanta's daughter, Chat Thai director Palisa Anderson - which is 15 minutes' drive from Byron.
Provenance is a key concern for Swan; she sources her birds from the organic Bendele farm and her pork from Borrowdale, and the drinks list (with the exception of Tsingtao) is made up of local favourites Jilly wines, Stone & Wood, Mayde Tea and The Bucha kombucha.
While the dishes veer classic, the décor avoids Chinese restaurant clichés, with a palette of dark wood and midnight blue. The only touches of red are a couple of birdcages and Chinese characters along one wall that spell out "Tastiest duck in the Bay".
And soon, that duck will be available to take home, with takeaway starting later in the year.
Backed by a strong pedigree and excellent produce, Duk is a fine way to balance out all those green juices.
Duk, 9 Bay La, Byron Bay, NSW, (02) 6680 9606, dukbyronbay.com. Dinner seven days, 5pm-10pm.