Bababoi is a compact Malaysian restaurant that specialises in Nyonya style cuisine. A unique and distinctive culture and tradition in Malaysia, blending Malay and Indian spices in Chinese cooking. It is a melting pot of a bygone era brought back by Bababoi on the northwest bank of the Yarra River next to the heritage listed Mission of Seafarers.
I have been to Bababoi last year after hearing about it, not far from my place. I went there for a takeaway dinner. It was quiet with no vibe. I ordered the loh bak, beef rendang, kapitan chicken, chilli beans and coconut rice. They were all delicious and tasty even when I brought them home to eat. The only setback was the curries and rice were not freshly cooked to order. They were packed in a takeaway container and kept in the fridge as individual serving order. They were then reheated in a microwave! The kitchen is an open kitchen visible to the customers. I wished I didn't see how my food was prepared. However, having said that. Curry is always best cooked the night before to get the full flavour of the complex flavour from the different spices and ingredients. I could understand why they were done this way. But, microwave is a No No. The cook (not a chef) could have reheated the curry in a saucepan on the gas stove. No matter how good the taste was, I wasn't planning to go back until today.
I was walking around the South Wharf Promenade for a lunch break. In search for something to eat. I thought I will give Bababoi another go. It is late autumn with a nice cool temperature and gentle breeze. Alfresco style dining with tables and chairs set outside a row of four compact restaurants serving differnt food cuisine - Bababoi (Malaysian), Perso (Middle Eastern - Kebab), Pud Thai vs Pho (Thai/Vietnamese) and Sea on Quay (fish bar). The busiest of them all is Pud Thai vs Pho which I don't know why yet as I have also been to this place a couple of years ago and was disappointed. Perhaps it is also time to revisit, but another day.
Back to Bababoi, it's lively with Shanghainese blues music blaring in the background. The scent of the food coming out from the open style kitchen wafted in the air as I stepped into the little restaurant. I love the setup of this place. There was the chef in the kitchen with 2 staff. 3 in total. Charming, friendly and lively.
The menu looked the same as last year. Nice and sufficient with the all time Malaysian favourites such as Beef Rendang, Nasi Lemak, Curry Laksa, Otak Otak, Loh Bak, Roti Canai. Bababoi is not just a Malaysian food, but specialise in Nyonya style dishes which is more complex in flavour. I decided to try their curry laksa with deep fried chicken for $10. The curry laksa's broth was packed with flavours, creamy and rich. It comes with vermicelli noodles. It was delicious and extremely tasty with the mint leaves. The deep fried chicken was flavoursome as well, except a touch too tough. Perhaps it was cooked earlier and left standing for too long.
Bababoi has a lot of potential and could do better. In both occassions - last year with the dinner takeaway and today's lunch, the flavour and taste of the food was spot on with a malaysian's nyonya authenticities. The background music suited the place with a moodiness of a shanghainese jazzy past.
I wish them all the best. The 2 boys - the chef and the maitre'd - are delightful and charming.
A little birdie told me that they are opening another outlet in the CBD.
Insight Penang blogs about travel and food, sharing with anyone who enjoys traveling to other destinations, taking photographs, meeting people, experiencing new cultures and traditions, enjoying cooking and trying other cuisines.