Monday, February 18, 2019

Brunching at Bibo

Past weekend we went to Bibo to check out their new brunch menu. We haven’t been here for so long that we must have missed a few chapters of this restaurant’s history with a few chefs came and went before. And now Chef Nicholas Chew (formerly of Serge a la Phoque) is at the helm for almost a year already and brought more changes to its menu as he settled, and loving the food at Serge a la Phoque before it’s moved to London 2 years ago, we were curious how this would fare.

Through the (sorta) hidden entrance on Hollywood Road and down to the dining area we were seated right by the window facing the buzzing street outside. The décor theme remained the same with a nice collection of funky (I mean, contemporary) art pieces either hanging or painted on the wall on standing on the floor, and the centrepiece was the pair of KAWS sculptures standing tall right by the window.

The lunch degustation menu came with either a 3-course or 5-course options into separate Entrée, Plat and Dessert sections, each with a new choices. Upon the manager’s recommendation, we went for the 5-course menu (they called this “5 steps”) and picked everything on Entrées and Desserts to share, and all we needed was to pick our own main course. We began with a pair of amuse-bouche bites – first the “ash” barley crisp with grated Comte, and then cherry stuffed with foie gras. I was particularly impressed with the latter, with the whole cherry hand pitted and stuffed with foie gras terrine and topped with caviar. So we got this fresh acidity from the fruits plus the fatty terrine in the middle and an umami hint from the caviar – such complex flavor and crafty execution with a single bite.

The quadruplet of appetizer came next and all of them outstanding and I also loved the creativity that went into each of the dishes. What looked like a squid-ink risotto was indeed celeriac in a deep dish with squid ink sauce, and topped with sea urchins and a thin layer of lardo, so there’s an interesting combination of crunchy texture from the celeriac in fine brunoise form served in room temperature with the rich flavor from the sea urchins and pork fat, totally unlike what I expected. Similarly for the abalone cooked a la cassoulet, with the thin slices of poached abalones served in its own shell with cassoulet stew (with beans and capers) underneath, plus charred crumbs on top from the oven finish. Not often one would see abalones used in non-Asian dishes but this one was cleverly done, though I personally would have diced the abalone rather than sliced it for a more consistent texture.

The Asian influence was also evident in the scallop dish, with the piece of scallops perfectly seared and served with a creamy coconut sauce and topped with grated cauliflower. Not the most creative among the four appetizers served but I love it nonetheless for the perfect combination of flavor.

I went for the Kinmedai for my main course. The prized kinmedai fillet (Japanese for goldeneye snapper) was quick seared with some of the scales on, with the skin fried to get that slightly crispy texture, and on the side was endives topped with karasumi (salted mullet roes) plus the classic beurre blanc sauce. They all matched well and the different cooking styles and ingredients (French and Japanese) just clicked together in this beautiful presentation.

The desserts were served in tasting menu portion (i.e. kinda small) but each of us could pick two. The Dacquoise obviously reminded us of the one at Chef Nicholas’ previous restaurant, and this one was infused with “ash” to give it a nice charcoal color with ice cream and strawberry coulis sandwiched in between and dusted with icing sugar on top. And I loved both the mini chocolate tart (with 3 kinds of chocolates done in different forms) and the passionfruit panna cotta served inside a hollowed passionfruit. I personally found the rum baba a tad bit too strong in alcohol – perhaps leaving that soaked in rum for a bit too long.

Went for the wine pairing options selected by the somm. One couldn’t go wrong with champagne to start (this time it’s GH Mumm’s classic Cordon Rouge), then a pair of whites for the appetizers and main course (the slightly off-dry Alsace Riesling went particularly well with my Kinmedai dish). To end, it’s a glass of fortified sweet wine from Maury which I thought was great with the Roquefort cheese we had.

(The meal was by invitation. More photos were posted in my Flickr album:

When? February 16 2019
Where? Bibo, 163 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? "Celariac, Uni, Ink, Lardo"
GH Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut NV
2017 Domaine Gilles Blanchet Pouilly Fume AOC
2016 Lucien Albrecht Reserve Riesling, Alsace AOC
1980 Mas Amiel Maury AOC Millesime

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