How often have you combined a street art tour with superb French cuisine and outstanding service? Bibo managed the noteworthy feat of combining all three – a first in our lifetime. Whilst it won’t stop us looking, we think it would be difficult to surpass this as a brunch venue for anyone with even a passing interest in art and design. Added to that the great ambiance and imaginative food Bibo deserves to be up there with some of the best restaurants in Hong Kong.
Serendipitously perhaps, we were wandering through the streets of Sheung Wan in search of street art for a personal photography project depicting ‘the other side of Hong Kong’ when we stumbled across Bibo as we negotiated the steep steps down Ladder Street from Hollywood Road. Peering through the window of the restaurant we caught sight of a waiter who signalled that we needed to re-trace our steps to find the entrance. If you didn’t know it was there you might well miss it but the nameplate, La Compagnie Generale Francaise de Tramway, and a brass coloured metal doorway will signal that you are in the right place.
One of the great things about Bibo’s brunch offering is that they are completely relaxed about gluten issues and whilst they didn’t have any g-f free bread available that day, they gave the impression at least that they normally had some in stock. Luckily the charming waiter assigned to our table was fully aware of what foods beyond the usual suspects coeliacs need to be wary of. It perhaps helped that he has a nut allergy, a far worst thing to have to deal with.
If you are at all interested in street art, this is an absolute find. The owners commissioned the Portuguese street artist Vhils to carve a striking image of a man directly onto one of the restaurants concrete walls. The work has an amazing rawness and energy, perhaps not least as he uses drills to cut into the concrete and plaster work to expose the bricks underneath. Apart from this work the space is a changing gallery with works such as a scooter graffitied in Chinese script by The King of Kowloon, alongside paintings by internationally renowned artist such as Jean Michel Basquiat and Geoff Koons. There is also a colourful work by a French artist Space Invader which is rather safer there than in the rest of Hong Kong where there has been a purge of his work. Even the charming image in square mosaic tiles of a woman walking on the sign for ladder street, a few steps away from the restaurant, has been removed. You may be able to make out the shadow in this picture. Such a waste.
Yet the authorities allow this enormous tag just a couple of streets away to stay..
That said one of the interesting things about street art is that it is ephemeral and subject to change. Even the effects of the weather can add depth to a piece. One of the interesting things about Bibo is that it seems to attract tributes. Each time I have passed that way there has been something new. The latest is this one by Mak, in sight of one of the windows of the restaurant.
All this art gives the space a great vibe against which to enjoy great food. At the time of first writing this review Bibo offered free flow of a range of cocktails from a selected menu, including this yazu cooler, but this wasn’t available last time we went there so such offerings may be subject to change.
Wagyu beef tartare
The finale was a fruit platter which was a work of art in its own right. If you are into design as I am you will note the discreet logo of a tram on the plate.
Just a little parting acknowledgement to Bibo. When we went there to celebrate a recent birthday, we brought with us candles spelling out the words Happy Birthday and Ferrero Rocher chocolates for them to stand in as a makeshift bit of fun. Not only did the staff of Bibo enter into the spirit of this, bringing the lit tribute to our guest, but Bibo also brought the desert shown above inscribed with the same words. Much appreciated by all.
Bibo,163 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong: Tel: 2956 3188