A humble ‘pandemic pop-up’ has transformed into one of the most in-demand restaurants in Sydney – and it’s easy to see why.
Hidden behind the doors of a quaint stone block in Surry Hills lies Warike, a Peruvian fusion hub delivering diners some of the most unique, mouthwatering dishes in the city.
Co-owned by Luis Guzman, Valeriya Finogeeva and Executive Chef Hector Chunga, the idea of Warike (pronounced Warique) was born during 2020 when Guzman was cooking at home in lockdown.
Now a local dining sensation, the eatery’s lively, homely ambience is inspired by Peru’s traditional ‘Warikes’ – humble, hidden hubs known for their incredible food and cosy vibes.
Housing just 46, the restaurant centres on’ authenticity and a sense of shared enjoyment’, which is clear the second you walk in as you’re faced with cheerful decor, a warm service team and an impossibly tasty menu.
A humble ‘pandemic pop-up’ has transformed into one of the most in-demand restaurants in Sydney – and it’s easy to see why
Now a local dining sensation, the eatery’s lively, homely ambience is inspired by Peru’s traditional ‘Warikes’ – humble, hidden eateries known for their incredible food and cosy vibes
Stand-outs include a wide range of ceviches – the hero being the Clasico made with kingfish and sweet potato puree – cheesy scallops made with macho sauce, melt-in-your-mouth charcoal octopus and charcoal black angus (lomo saltado).
The menu reflects the diverse fusion of Peruvian cultures, especially the Incas, and imported cuisines brought in by immigrants, including Spanish, Italian, German and Chinese. It also reflects Mediterranean techniques combined with Peruvian products.
Chunga, the Executive Chef, was born into a modest family in the north of Peru and credits his incredible talent first and foremost to his mother, a teacher, and wider family.
‘My parents are influential people in their careers, I have always wanted to be like them and for them to be proud of what I do,’ Chunga told FEMAIL.
‘I learned to cook thanks to my mother and the attention I paid when she cooked for us and my aunts when they cooked at a family party.
Co-owned by Luis Guzman (left), Valeriya Finogeeva and Executive Chef Hector Chunga (right), the idea of Warike (pronounced Warique) was born during 2020 when Guzman was cooking at home during lockdown
Charcoal octopus, Anticuchera sauce, cauliflower puree, Peruvian corn, chimichuri, dry olives
King fish, tiger’s milk, sweet potato puree, Peruvian corn, white corn
‘Then in cooking school I had great mentors and teachers. One of my teachers came from working in a Spanish restaurant with Michelin stars and another was a passionate Peruvian chef.’
Chunga moved to Lima to study gastronomy after a brief stint studying to be an accountant like his father.
‘Peruvian cuisine began to appear in Europe at the famous festival Madrid Fusion. I thought about it for a few days before I finally made the move,’ he said, which saw him later work in top restaurants around the world.
Chunga met Guzman and loved the idea of a Peruvian-Japanese-Mediterranean fusion restaurant in Sydney.
‘My parents are influential people in their careers, I have always wanted to be like them and for them to be proud of what I do,’ Chunga told FEMAIL
‘People who try Warike for the first time are surprised that Peruvian cuisine is not so popular in this country, but I am confident that we do a good job. I consider myself an ambassador of Peruvian cuisine, so that is my mission,’ he said
‘I helped to make it different and a more technical restaurant – a concept that respects the product… where tradition is served differently and where the visual is important but history prevails,’ he said.
‘People who try Warike for the first time are surprised that Peruvian cuisine is not so popular in this country, but I am confident that we do a good job. I consider myself an ambassador of Peruvian cuisine, so that is my mission.’
He added: ‘Hospitality is not just an industry or a business, it is much more than that and that’s what I teach in my team. We take responsibility for the happiness of all our guests who are our diners.’
How would you describe Peruvian cuisine?
Peruvian cuisine is a set of possibilities and multicultural influence.
The Spanish brought many European culinary techniques, then the Chinese and the Japanese arrived, the Italians also arrived, each one with a different technique, a different product, a different history.
Peruvians adapted those products and made them our own so Peruvian cuisine is a combination of foreign influence plus the wealth of the Andes, its Amazonia, and its coast.
Peru has more than 7 microclimates, in Peru they grow products that you cannot find anywhere else on earth. Peruvian cuisine is history that continues to evolve.
HECTOR CHUNGA’S SECRET RECIPES
1. Tiger’s milk for ceviche
Leave the vegetables with the salt to dehydrate for half an hour and then blend it with the fish stock and the fish to obtain a creamy leche de tigre. Strain and we have a perfect leche de tigre to make ceviches.
2. Huancaina sauce
300g red onion
50g confit garlic
30g olive oil
800g aji amarillo paste
200g feta cheese
360mL evaporated milk
Add the oil to a frying pan and sauté the onion, add the salt and then add confit garlic. Then add aji amarillo paste, cook for a few minutes and then blend with the rest of the ingredients until you get a creamy sauce.
Busy every night and buzzing with energy, Warike has a bright future in Sydney, with Chunga adding even more Mediterranean influence to the menu in months to come.
‘Our goal is to get a hat – we are not far from other restaurants that already have it and we offer quality food and service,’ he said.
‘It is an experience to eat at Warike, we cannot please everyone but we try. Warike will be one of the best Peruvian restaurants in Australia, there are many people who come from suburbs like Liverpool or an hour from the city, so at some point people further outside Sydney will come to eat here too.
‘The goal is that, for Warike to transcend Australia, we become the pioneers in slightly changing the image of Peruvian cuisine in Sydney. The second step is for everyone to want to experience it with us.’
Warike is open Tuesday-Saturday 5pm-late and lunch on Saturdays from 12.30pm – 2pm.