Before he opened Rey’s Place, Jonathan Bayad was afraid of how Filipino cuisine would be received by Western diners. But he forged ahead anyway and chose to present modern-Filipino food that is still true to traditional flavours.
Here, lechon (suckling pig) is slow-roasted so the skin turns crunchy. It’s served with lechon sarsa, a sauce made of vinegar, onion, chilli, garlic and brown sugar. Charred chicken livers give the sauce richness and a thick consistency.
The small-plates section of the menu features Filipino street food; dishes such as corn chargrilled on a Japanese robata wood grill, and served with garlic butter and chilli. There’s also deep-fried chicken wings stuffed with chicken adobo (a sauce of garlic, vinegar, paprika, oregano) mousse.
For dessert it’s hard to go past the turon (fried banana fritter). To make it, plantain bananas are poached in demerara syrup, which gives a caramel flavour to the dish. Instead of the usual ube (“oo-beh”, purple yam) ice-cream, it’s served with ube parfait.
Don Papa Rum (a caramel- and orange-scented rum) is a perfect accompaniment to the dessert. Distilled in small batches from sugar cane grown on the island of Negros (the fourth largest island of the Philippines), and aged in American oak for seven years, it features heavily in the cocktail menu. Try it in the Rey’s Place Old Fashioned.
The narrow restaurant’s 35 seats are split over two floors. With its leather banquettes, round marble-top tables and milky-white glass lights, the small venue has a French-bistro vibe.