Rey’s Place combines all my favourite things about dining in Sydney: new and unusual flavours or dishes; food that comes from somewhere, authentically; and fine dining – I like a casual meal too, but I like to when I can see and taste the thought, care and quality that’s been put into a meal.
Here, Filipino cuisine, which I’ve only had at very casual restaurants, in Hawaii and in Vancouver (and actually, one trip in Manila), has been plated up for the Sydney crowd, so served in manageable portions and the sometimes heaviness of the meat or sauces or fats is tempered with a different way of serving up, and again, smaller portions.
It’s a charming space too, a handful of tables upstairs and a modest downstairs space, in what looks to be a modified terrace house, taken over from the Indian street food place, Trunk Road, which I always meant to try and never did. From the owners of Bang Street, the amazing fine dining fusion with Bangladeshi street food, which seems to have closed, I wonder what they’ll do next. As I said, I love modern and upscale versions of ethnic food.
We started with a plateful of Chicaron Na Manok, delicious fried chicken skin, like pork crackling but much lighter with spiced soy and vinegar ($7). I couldn’t go by the sausage starter as well, Longganisa, a sweet garlic and pepper pork sausage, which reminded me a bit of Thai sausages, a stickiness and a different flavour ($10). Served with light crackers of deep fried rice, doused in pinakurat, a spiced vinegar, these were very good.
Rather than the Filipino specialty of crispy pata, deep-fried pork hocks, which my family is obsessed with, they do ‘Rey’s Lechon’ here, slow-roasted suckling pig with a housemade sarsa (sauce) and chilli-mansi dipping ($28). Photo at the top! I love roast pork. It’s a weakness.
And we couldn’t go by the Chicken Adobo, soy and vinegar chicken with crispy potatos and sweet onion ($23). Love this dish though flattered that husband said my version, cooked from a NYT recipe, is just as good (if not better).
Finally, a light salad, Itlog Maalat ($11), of salted duck egg, tomato, basil and mustard dressing was refreshing and delicious and a good contrast in texture and flavours to the other dishes. And really, I loved all the flavours because they are slightly different to me: mild heat, different kinds of vinegar, well-salted.
As you can see, the prices are very reasonable, and we were too full to have dessert (I would have liked to try their banana spring roll with ube (purple yam) parfait. We also had a great chat with the waiter who told us about the Filipino food scene in Sydney: there really aren’t many restaurants around but there are a few. But while I’m dying to try Sydney Cebu Lechon in Enmore, specialising in pork, I’d come back to Rey’s any day.