Saturday, October 12, 2019

New Level of Fine in Fine Dining

I felt like this is only the first time I could properly sit down and check out the food at Bibo, with Chef Nicholas Chew settling in his new post after moving on from the much-acclaimed, now-defunct Serge a la Phoque almost a year ago. That plus it's only my first time coming for the dinner tasting menu, with my previous visits during day time on weekends for the simpler brunch.

Of course, one thing that always draw everyone's attention at the restaurant is their exquisite art collection scattering throughout the dining area, one that can rival any galleries in town for works by contemporary artists. One didn't get to dine with a 10-foot KAWS sculpture sitting right next to you at the table often, or a seemingly random (but authentic) graffiti by Yoshitomo Nara on the wall.

A la carte menu is available but there’s also a 6-course tasting menu called “Chef’s Imagination” – so, based on whatever Chef Nick prepared from the kitchen. And that’s what we went for this evening. We started with a few amuse-bouche bites – gougere, compressed watermelon and tapioca crisp – then went straight into a series of seafood dishes as our first few courses. The abalone was a cold appetizer with the abalone braised then cut into slices and served in its own shell with threads of udon underneath and a punchy asam pedas sauce with bits of chorizos and smoked tomatoes. It’s refreshing with that interesting savory-acidic kick from the sauce inspired by South East Asian flavor.

The scallop course was baked wrapped in a banana leaf and carefully unwrapped and plated in front of us at the table. The appearance resembled an old-fashioned crab cake with a slight toasted crust. But it’s stuffed with bits of scallops instead of crab meat. Underneath was barley mixed with truffles for the additional texture. There’s elements of regional influence throughout all dishes – because of Chef Nick’s ethnic background as Singaporean – but I think the botan ebi (giant prawn) probably best captured the spirit of Singaporean cuisine all within one dish. There’s elements of laksa with coconut espuma on top of celeriac puree; and the head was coated with oatmeal and deep-fried, similar to the classic Singaporean dish of oatmeal prawns. The body of prawn was just barely cooked and it’s full of umami flavor. This is the dish I loved most this time.

Our main courses were Miyazaki wagyu – actually there were 2 separate dishes served using the same ingredient as theme. First was the brioche slider with cucumber and rendang, which is followed wagyu fillet topped with clams and served with a dark and rich buah keluak puree on the side. I prefer the slider better with all components well cooked and presented.

Dessert was a simple one with apple and walnut – slices of poached apples and apple sorbet served with crushed walnuts and wafer crisps. After such substantial savory courses (with a lot of carbs in each of courses), the portion was just right. And the petit fours were the mini dacquoise (one of Chef Nick’s old time favorite back at his former restaurant) and a deconstructed pineapple cake – once again, a nod to Singaporean’s signature snack.

Two wines for the evening – couldn’t go wrong with a champagne in just about any occasion, then it’s an interesting French Malbec. I would probably argue the tannins being too soft for the rich and fatty beef, but fresh with good red fruit and went down easily. Fine art, fine venue, fine food... there are more in this place than just fine dining for sure.

(Dinner was by invitation. More pictures can be found in my Flickr album:

When? October 8 2019
Where? Bibo, 163 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Celariac, Botan Ebi, Coconut, Laksa
Champagne Perrier Jouet NV
2018 Domaine Mas Del Perie Malbec Invader

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