One of the few restaurants in Melbourne to serve Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine, Bababoi stands out from the crowd with offerings that really pack a flavour punch.
The Nyonya cuisine is a Malaysian cuisine which combines Chinese, Malay and other influences into a unique blend resulting in dishes that are tangy, aromatic, spicy and herbal.
The menu is extensive with something to suit everyone - From well-known crowd pleasers like their 5 spice marinated chicken to authentic Nyonya dishes like the Ayam buah keluak which is not served anywhere else in Melbourne.
The food boasts beautiful flavour courtesy of the house made rempah (a blend of fresh spices which are ground together) that are meticulously prepared.
Our dinner commenced with a plate of Lobak from their “Something Light” section of the menu. The Lobak is a mixture of ground up lean pork, water chestnuts and herbs wrapped in a beancurd skin which has been steamed and then pan fried until crisp. The crispy beancurd exterior, juicy interior and salty-sweet chilli sauce makes for an excellent appetiser.
Tamarind pulled pork (a.k.a. babi assam)
A dish of pulled pork with hints of tangy tamarind, the dish displayed a depth and complexity in flavour and had a lovely hint of tangy sweetness that complemented the overall savouriness of the dish.
Nyonya chicken curry (a.k.a. ayam kapitan)
This classic Malaysian chicken curry was a stand out. Boasting creamy coconut and aromatic kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, it was wonderfully hearty. We enjoyed the richness of the curry and the generous use of spices which showcased the customary punchy flavours exhibited by Malaysian curries generally. Together with steamed rice, it was an addictive and comforting dish.
Chocolate chicken (a.k.a. Ayam buah keluak)
The chocolate chicken was yet another highlight. Particularly enjoyable for its robust and fragrant nutty flavour. Each morsel was cooked to the point where the meat simply melted in our mouths. The flavours from the herbs and spices were unique and very enjoyable.
The Jewellery box - Earl grey pannacotta topped with black tapioca pearls
The visually attractive pannacotta was a wonderful creation of melt in your mouth pannacotta and perfectly chewy tapioca pearls. Absolutely delectable, this dessert was a masterclass in textural balance and great use of flavour. The pannacotta was textured perfectly. A welcome departure from the mundane dessert items usually found, this dessert offered its own unique characteristics.
Bababoi celebrates the fusion style of Nyonya cuisine, with distinctive blend of Chinese and Malay techniques, flavours and spices. If you like your South East Asian flavours rich and gutsy, you cannot go wrong here.