Photo of
April 12, 2016

What is in the fridge at home?


In the last of our blogs covering the pop-ups appearing at the Glasgow Restaurant Festival Spiegeltent, we chatted to Nik Biok, Executive Chef at the Bar Soba group of restaurants.

Australian Nik started his career in Sydney and, among other locations, has worked in London, Hong Kong and Moscow before moving to Glasgow. He grew up in Indonesia and has always loved Asian cooking – perfect for Bar Soba’s pan Asian street food menus.

Taste of Asia

Bar Soba has Glasgow branches in the city centre, West End and Merchant City as well as one in Edinburgh city centre. A new branch in Leeds is the first of an ambitious roll-out in England.

Bar Soba is taking over the kitchens in the Spiegeltent on Candleriggs on Sunday the 17th of April. Diners can look forward to a taste of Asia with influences from Japan, regions of China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

You can book tickets here.

The 5pm Dining blog had a chat with Nik about Elton John, mangosteen and langoustine.

Can you describe Bar Soba’s food in five words?

NB: Authentic, honest, Asian, street food.

What event or day in your career are you most proud of?

NB: Cooking for a thousand people at Elton John’s house. I used to be Head Chef for Rhubarb, the leading catering company in London, and we used to do his White Tie and Tiara AIDS and HIV fund raiser every year. Each ticket was £10,000 so we were serving the very best food in the world. We’d be flying in a thousand Wagyu beef steaks from Japan.

Do you have a favourite Scottish ingredient?

NB: Langoustine. The sweet flavour you get from it is fantastic and the Scottish langoustines are the best in the world. And that’s from an Aussie who has been surrounded by seafood.

Pan Asian street food is on the menu at the Bar Soba outlets.
Pan Asian street food is on the menu at the Bar Soba outlets.

Is there a food you love now but hated as a kid?

NB: I didn’t like olives as a kid but, like everyone else, they grew on me. I  may have learned to love them through martinis.

You have a magic wand. What one thing would you change about the restaurant industry?

NB: People’s perception that working in catering is a transitional job. That perception is changing but it needs to change more. There is nothing wrong with being a professional waiter. If you were in Italy or Australia that might be what you do. People don’t often view it in that regard.

You can have anyone, alive or dead, cook you a meal. Who will it be?

NB: My Hungarian grandmother. On the menu, there would be very simple Hungarian pork schnitzel with fried potatoes followed by her very own black cherry and ricotta strudel. She would make everything herself from the pastry upwards. She was the reason I became a chef.

What is on the menu for your last meal?

NB: Mangosteen. They are my favourite fruit and I think they are the perfect single ingredient dish. I grew up in Indonesia so there is an element of nostalgia about that as well as them being a fruit that I love.

Finish this sentence: I couldn’t finish my working day without…

NB: Cooking at home. I go home and I cook to relax. Sometimes I’ll be cooking at midnight but, like tonight, I’ll get home at seven o’clock and cook for my family. I’ve always said to myself that the day I stop cooking for the people I know will be the day that I stop cooking for strangers. Why spend your life on a craft that you don’t share with the people you love?

What is in the fridge at home?

NB: 101 vegetables. I don’t eat much meat at home. I eat it quite sporadically. There will always lemongrass, always ginger, always lime leaf and always tamarind.

Nik Biok: Executive Chef at Bar Soba.
Nik Biok: Executive Chef at Bar Soba.