When Holly Ong and Patricia Lau were growing up in Singapore, cooking was a chore — women helped out in the kitchen, especially during the festival season, assisting their grandmothers with time-intensive rice dumplings or wrapping fish in banana leaves. Now, years later, Ong and Lau cook out of a yearning for home.
“It’s taste-memories. It’s things we grew up with,” Ong says. She and Lau, longtime friends and co-workers at Nike, have been cooking together for years — in Shanghai, the two threw dinner parties, cooking meals they remembered from their childhood. Now, they’re doing it for a profit.
Ong and Lao are the masterminds behind Sibeiho, a new Singaporean supper club offering monthly meals with everything from Singaporean chili crab to otak-otak, a fish cake wrapped in banana leaves and then grilled. Meals usually consist of 20 people, sharing the two chefs’ interpretations of family recipes recreated with Pacific Northwestern seafood: For instance, the two have been swapping the traditional mackerel in their otak-otak with Pacific halibut, steaming Oregon salmon in banana leaves, and using Flying Fish anchovies instead of the hard-to-find Ikan Kuning for their nasi lemak — coconut rice. There’s more to Sibeiho Sibeiho than seafood, however — at past dinners, the two served plates like century egg with Ota tofu and ayam bakar, a baked chicken marinated in coconut milk and turmeric for 24 hours.
Here’s how it works: Those interested follow the supper club’s Instagram, where they post the upcoming dates. Interested guests direct message the Instagram page to make a reservation and get the location for the dinner. When they arrive, the meal works sort of like a dinner party — plates are scattered across a communal table, with wine available as well. Down the line, they’d like to partner with local wineries, especially to create individual pairings.
The two are planning future dinners throughout the summer, though they’re not sure how consistently they can host meals with their current schedules. Whenever they are, the two hope they will be sibeiho-ah — “fucking delicious.”