If there’s one question Ybrahim Camero is sick of hearing it’s, “What’s an arepa?” The Venezuelan-Colombian maize pancakes don’t have much of a reputation in Sydney, but Camero and his partner (both in business and life) Gilda Rivas want to make them as popular as kebabs, banh mi or even burgers.
La Reina is their arepas fast-food chain that launched in Newtown in 2018. The restaurant is narrow with a few benches, a takeaway counter and few posters with slogans.
And the menu is simple: arepas in different styles. The classic option is pabellon (a mix of sweet plantain, shredded pork, black beans and a milky cheese) and then there’s reina pepiada, Venezuela’s answer to the chicken and avocado sandwich.
Rivas’s recipes are traditional, the big difference being the arepas themselves. In Venezuela all arepas are white, but La Reina’s arepas flour is mixed with carrot juice, beetroot juice and coriander to make different colours.