Rey’s Place: Introducing modern Filipino food to Sydney
Food is one of the greatest sources of happiness and togetherness in friendly Philippines.
Working hard to bring this same feeling to Australia, Sydney-based restaurant Rey’s Place is fusing the east and west, by staying true to traditional Filipino flavours and ingredients while providing a modern approach.
In doing so, Rey’s Place is helping the 300,000-strong Filipino-Australian diaspora feel at home.
Staying true to their Filipino backgrounds, owner of Rey’s Place Jonathan Bayad and his head chef Uriel Kilala are bringing the flavours and warmth of the Philippines to Australia.
I was born in the Philippines and I go back every couple of years to see my family, and stay in touch with my roots, because where I come from inspires my food and my knowledge.
“My mum would teach me how to cook basic things, but I never imagined I would be working in my own cuisine while in Sydney,” Uriel said.
Rey’s Place: Upstairs interior, bar and seating
Despite living and working in Australia, Uriel regularly sends money to his extended family living in the Philippines, with the remittances often assisting his cousins with school expenses.
It’s a hard life in the Philippines, so if you have savings you have to show your appreciation for them by sending it over there.
“They never ask for any money; I am just more than willing to help them out,” he explained.
Rey’s Place: Bao Sliders
Despite the restaurant’s Filipino origins not inherently obvious upon first walking through the doors, the smells of the delicious food combined with the warm welcome from owner Jonathan Bayad instantly make restaurant-goers feel at home.
Rey’s Place is named after Jonathan’s dad and is essentially a visual representation of the carefully selected menu – classic Filipino food, with a contemporary Australian twist.
“First generation Filipino-Australians need somewhere they can take their friends to introduce them to the cuisine, because traditionally it can be a little bit confronting,” Jonathan explained.
Rey’s Place: Turon
Around three months after signing the lease to the Darlinghurst venue, Rey’s Place was open and running, a journey Jonathan describes as a “crazy whirlwind”.
We try and stay true to the flavours and ingredients as much as possible, but at the same time, they’ve been modernised and become a little bit more approachable.
“We do use a few family recipes in here and my chefs use some of their family recipes as well,” Jonathan said.
Working to educate Australians about Filipino food and culture, Jonathan and Uriel recommended two popular dishes to anyone new to the cuisine.
“They should try the classic Leche Flan, which is similar to a Creme Brûlée but with a Filipino fusion, and for a savoury dish, they’ve got to try the authentic Lechon, a delicious slow roasted suckling pig with crispy skin,” Uriel said.
“Filipino food in Australia has to be on the same level as cuisines such as Thai or Italian, it can’t be a new or novelty cuisine anymore, it has to be something that people are taking seriously,” Jonathan added.
Rey’s Place: Lechon