Before moving to Hong Kong, I lived in Singapore for four years and fell in love with the food there. Growing up in suburban Canada, I hadn’t been exposed to the unique blend of sweet, savoury, spicy that’s found in Singaporean and Malaysian cuisines. Come to think of it, my “homesickness” for Singaporean food was what brought me to Foodie in the first place; I’d turned my longings for my favourite spots in Singapore into a food guide and pitched it to the editor. And the rest is history!
Once in awhile, I’ll explore Singaporean and Malaysian restaurants in Hong Kong, but truth be told, there are so many great places on our doorstep that I’ve been happily swept away by my new home. However, I was reminded of my love of these dishes when my friends ordered a feast from newish Peranakan (the fusion of Singaporean and Malay traditions) restaurant Bibi & Baba to celebrate the start of summer 2021. Oh. My. Word. It was so good, and I was surprised that I hadn’t visited the restaurant before! No-booking policies often put me off, but I guess they’re in place for a reason. I shared a photo of the feast on Instagram, and a friend messaged me to say that it’s even better in person.
So I was thrilled to visit Bibi & Baba in person to try their new nine-course tasting menu ($480/person) by Chef Ho Wai-Kong and team, which contains almost entirely off-menu dishes. It requires a minimum of six guests (up to 12 guests) and a reservation 48 hours in advance. But, bonus, guests can make a booking since there are at least six diners.
What’s on the menu? A wide variety of hawker and zi char favourites!
We started with chicken and pork satay with classic peanut sauce. While I like my satay a smidgen more charred (personal preference), the texture and flavours were spot on. Who can resist candied meat?
Although I’m a big fan of ngo hiang (deep-fried five-spice pork roll), it was my first time having hei zho (deep-fried chicken and prawn roll), which is similar but lighter in flavour. Great on its own or dip it into the super-fiery red chilli sauce.
I hadn’t had sambal stingray in years, but I often ordered it when I lived in Singapore. The stingray was fresh and meaty, and the sambal sauce was addictive. While this doesn’t come with fried mantou (Chinese buns), I recommend grabbing one when they come out with the chilli crab and dunking it into the sambal! Don’t miss the oniony chilli sauce that comes on the side; it’s not overly spicy, but it adds a new dimension of flavour to an already flavour-packed dish.
Yes, chilli crab! Chilli crab is quite the indulgence; there’s way more sweet, eggy sauce to be mopped up by the aforementioned fried mantou than crab. Good for those like me who are too lazy to bother with the crab and are happy with just the saucy buns. About half our table of eight indulged in the crab itself, and some mess ensued; one editor happily declared it the messiest tasting he’d ever been to. Dress accordingly!
The cereal prawns are deep-fried and covered in a buttery cereal mix. I removed the heads, although I thought most of the shell was soft enough to eat.
The only dishes on this tasting menu that are also on the main menu are the beef rendang and Hainanese chicken rice. Guests can choose one or the other, but we tried both – in the name of research!
The Hainanese chicken came out first, and it was great. Many people have strong opinions on what makes a good chicken rice (is it the chicken, the rice, the sauces?). For me, it’s definitely the chicken. Bibi & Baba uses quality three-yellow chicken, which has excellent flavour.
But then the beef rendang came out, and it stole the crown. It was absolutely melt-in-the-mouth tender, made of tender beef shin slow-cooked in a dry coconut curry. Eat this while it’s hot!
I was stuffed by this point and refused a serving of the wok-fried four beans (long beans, winged beans, okra and petai). My friend glanced at me with a “are you sure?” look, so I caved. Why not try everything?
And, friends, do yourself a favour and leave room for a big serving of this dish (sorry, I realised too late that I had forgotten to snap a photo). Maybe it’s because I love sambal and it’s hard to find a good one in Hong Kong, but the sambal in this dish is the perfect combination of sweet, savoury and spicy. It also has loads of dried shrimp bits, making it different from the sambal on the stingray. I wish I lived closer to Bibi & Baba; I would definitely stop by often to order a takeaway portion of this dish to mix with some rice.
The char kway teow was pretty good. Good wok hei and all the essential elements of egg, prawns and Chinese sausage (I would have loved some cockles and fried lard though!).
The menu ends with a giant ice kacang (literally a giant version of this traditional Singaporean dessert). This classic contains items like red beans and sweetcorn, which might not be to everyone’s taste. Personally, even though I’m not a huge fan of ice kachang, I thought it was the perfect light ending to the indulgent menu.
If you still have stomach space to indulge, the chendol ($58) and kueh platter ($58) – kueh dadar, or rolled pandan and coconut crêpes, on our night – are delicious.
I was going to say make a booking at Bibi & Baba ASAP if you miss Singaporean or Malaysian food, but really, just go if you’re looking for good food of any type. The recipes are authentic, the sauces and sambals are insane, the quality of the ingredients is great, the prices are very fair and the restaurant has such a fun vibe, making it perfect for group dinners and birthday celebrations. I hope this menu is on for awhile so that I can book it for my birthday next May!
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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