New tasting menu at Bibi and Baba
Before Hong Kong, I lived in Singapore for four years and fell in LOVE with the food. Growing up in suburban Canada, I hadn’t been exposed to the unique blends of sweet, savoury, spicy that’s found in Singaporean / Malaysian / Peranakan cuisine. 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 into a food guide and pitched it to Celia. And the rest is history! :)
Once in a while I’ll explore Singaporean / 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. But 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 ‘21. Oh. My. Word. It was so good and I was surprised I hadn’t visited the restaurant before! No reservations 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 it’s even better in person.
So I was thrilled to visit Bibi and Baba in person to try their new 9-course tasting menu ($480 per person) 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 over 6 guests.
What’s on the menu? A wide variety of hawker and zi char favourites!
We started with chicken and pork satay with the classic satay peanut sauce. While I like my satay a smidge more charred (personal preference), the texture and flavours were spot on. Who can resist candied meat?
While I’m a big fan of ngo hiang (deep-fried pork five-spice 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 in the super fiery red chili sauce.
I haven’t had sambal stingray in years but ordered it often when i lived in Singapore. The stingray were fresh and meaty, and the sambal sauce was addictive. While this didn’t come with fried mantou, I recommend grabbing one when they come out with the chili crab and dunking it in the sambal! Don’t miss the onion-y chili sauce that comes on the side. Not overly spicy but adds a new dimension of flavour to an already flavour-packed dish.
Yes, chili crab! Chili crab is quite the indulgence in my opinion as 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 happy with just the saucy buns. About half of our table of 8 indulged in the crab itself and some mess ensued - one editor (happily I think haha) declared it the messiest tasting he’d ever been to. Dress accordingly!
The cereal prawns were deep-fried and covered in a buttery cereal mix. While I took off the head, I thought most of the shell was soft enough to eat.
The only dishes from this tasting menu that are also on the main menu are the beef rendang and Hainanese chicken rice. Guests choose one or the other. We tried both in the name of research.
Our Hainanese chicken came out first and it was great. Many people have strong opinions on what makes chicken rice great (is it the chicken, the rice, the chili?) — for me it’s definitely the chicken. Bibi and Baba use quality yellow chicken which has great flavour.
But then the beef rendang came out and it stole the crown. It was absolutely melt in the mouth, made of tender beef shin and 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, WIng beans, Okra, and Petai!). My friend looked at me with a ‘are you sure’ look and so I caved. Why not try everything. And friends do yourself a favour and leave room for a big serving of this (sorry, I realized this too late and forgot to take a photo). Maybe it’s because I love sambal and it’s hard to find a good one in Hong Kong but this was the perfect combination of sweet, savoury, and spicy. It also had loads of dried shrimp bits, making it different than the sambal on the stingray. I wish I lived closer to the restaurant — would definitely want to order takeout of this on rice often.
The char kway teow was pretty good. Good wok hei and all the essential elements of egg, prawns, Chinese sausage (would have loved some cockles and fried lard though!).
The menu ends with a giant ice kacang (literally a giant version of the dessert). This classic contains things like red beans and sweet corn which might not be to everyones taste. Personally, even though I’m not a huge ice kachang fan, I thought it was the right, light end to the indulgent menu.
If you still have stomach space to indulge though, the chendol ($58) and kueh platter ($58, kueh dadar on our night) are delicious.
I was going to say make a booking asap if you miss Singaporean / Malaysian / Peranakan food but really just go if you’re looking for good food. The recipes are authentic, the chilis and sambals are insane, the quality of the ingredients are great, the prices are very fair, and the restaurant has such a fun vibe perfect for a group dinner. And birthdays. I hope this menu is on for a while so I can book it for my birthday next May!
1-7 Ship St, Wan Chai, 2555 0628