Sydney’s ever-expanding plant-based scene covers everything from Napoli-style pizza, Indian Pakora, greasy burgers, gnocchi, pub classics, pho, cocktails, tacos and more. And now, adding to the South American arm of Sydney’s vegan possibilities—we have Calle Rey.
Dreamt up by big-time plant-based enthusiasts Madison Cohen and chef consultant JC Miranda, Calle Rey has a distinctive Peruvian bent. With a few decades of experience up his sleeve, including a stint at Bad Hombres, head chef Miranda is keen to bring the culinary twists and turns of his native Peru to Sydney, but in a new, innovative plant-based format.
Pitched at the top end of King Street in Newtown, Calle Rey’s menu is based on cultural Peruvian fusions, like super-popular Nikkei (Japanese Peruvian), Chifa (Peruvian Cantonese) and Cevicherias (Peruvian seafood). Standouts on the menu include cauliflower buffalo wings drizzled in a smoked BBQ sauce, flavour-stacked mushroom quesadillas and yellow chilli jackfruit with vegan cheese, pecans, rice and your choice of corn tortillas or lettuce cups.
Flavour is definitely the name of the game here. Calle Rey’s spin on ceviche (the national dish of Peru) is made with king mushrooms marinated in a plant-based take on South American leche de tigre (tiger's milk), red onion, coriander and red pepper, and served with sweet potato and corn on a corn tostada. The sashimi Nikkei is made with sheets of konjac that’s also cured in tiger’s milk, before being covered with avocado, togarashi, sweet potato, snow peas, carrots and teriyaki sauce, and topped with crispy harusame.
It wouldn’t be proper Peruvian without Peru’s native spirit, pisco, playing a big part on the drinks list—but Cohen and Miranda have taken this idea one step further, creating a dedicated pisco bar within Calle Rey.
The venue within a venue is called Diablo Pisco Bar, and it’s technically the world's first plant-based pisco bar. Here you’ll get to sip pisco cocktails like a “Pisco Daisy” with pisco acholado, Cointreau and fresh lime, or a pisco-based riff on an espresso martini with acholado, espresso, carob syrup and sugar. Calle Rey’s cocktails are vegan, so you won’t find egg whites in your classic pisco sour—but rest assured, Cohen and Miranda have kept the foam and flavour intact.
Diablo also pours a selection of oversized pisco-based Lageritas, which (surprise) have been given their sparkle and fizz from fruit-flavoured Vodka Cruisers instead of beer. There’s also a selection of mostly South Australian wines, red and white sangria jugs and fresh fruit mocktails if you’re keen to keep things low-key.
Image credit: Calle Rey