Forget what you know about sushi and ceviche – Callao reimagines traditional dishes with a Nikkei twist.
Sydney’s bustling Barangaroo dining scene welcomes a new resident, Callao, a restaurant steeped in the rich tapestry of Nikkei cuisine. This unique culinary exploration, brought to you by the team behind Wild Sage Cafes and Alegre Bar, explores the centuries-old fusion of Japanese and Peruvian flavours, offering a new symphony of tastes designed to tantalise and surprise.
Step into Callao, and immerse yourself in the moody, dimly lit ambience. A backlit terracotta bar beckons, inviting you to linger over a handcrafted cocktail as you admire the stunning artwork – a mountainous landscape reminiscent of Peru’s Rainbow Mountain. This vibrant centrepiece sets the stage for a meal where zesty Peruvian ingredients waltz with Japanese precision, guided by the expertise of Head Chef Jihwan Choi.
As Chef Choi explains, “Callao is named after the Peruvian port where the first 790 Japanese immigrants arrived. The early immigrants adapted their traditional dishes by incorporating local ingredients, leading to the creation of Nikkei cuisine.”
This fusion philosophy shines through in every dish. Start with the delicate scampi tartare, nestled on crispy rice and enlivened by pickled jalapenos and Siberian caviar. And if that’s not enough to tempt you, the Seared Bonito Tiradito, a Peruvian take on sashimi, dressed in a vibrant Ponzu Leche de Tigre, promises to tantalise your taste buds.
Chef Choi’s dedication to fresh, local ingredients shines through in every dish. Take the wood-fired prawns, they’re kissed with smoke and their sweetness is enhanced by an Aji Panca Bisque. The decadent combination of sea urchin butter and tobiko mayo adds a touch of luxury, making it a dish you won’t soon forget.
But before you leave, don’t forget to indulge in the playful yet sophisticated desserts. The Pineapple Paddle Pop, inspired by the Peruvian classic helado de piña, offers a refreshingly sweet finale, while the Chocolate Truffle infused with Sansho Pepper, a numbing Japanese spice reminiscent of Sichuan pepper, adds an unexpected twist.
But Callao’s journey extends beyond the plate. The cocktail list is an ode to the fusion theme, featuring Latin tipples infused with Asian flair. Sip on a Callao Old Fashioned, where Shinobu Daimyo-No Blended Whisky mingles with yuzu and carob syrup, creating a complex and nuanced flavour profile. Or, perhaps the Bellavista, with its tropical notes of Midori and coconut husk rum, will entice you.
Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or simply curious to discover new culinary horizons, Callao promises an experience that is both familiar and surprising. It’s a place where centuries of culinary exchange come alive on your plate and where the warmth of Peruvian hospitality meets the precision of Japanese technique.