5Qs with Pat Lau and Holly Ong

Our 5Qs series is a chance for you to get to know more about folks in the Singapore Global Network community, where we pose 5 questions to exciting individuals to find out more about what they do!

4 August 2020 / By SGN

Best friends turned restauranteurs for SIBEIHO: Holly Ong (left) and Pat Lau

Meet Pat and Holly, two food entrepreneurs based in Portland, Oregon. The duo has been painstakingly preparing to launch a new farm-to-table Singaporean food & lifestyle company, SIBEIHO.

The ladies met over 15 years ago when working for Nike Singapore. Through their work assignments to Shanghai and finally to Portland, they bonded over their love of cooking and Singaporean themed dinner parties. Over the years, Pat and Holly have learned how to re-create their childhood taste memories from culinary experiences and travels.

1. What is your favourite place in Portland?

P: Portland has been voted one of the most livable cities in the US for good reason, and I love its small city charms. We live only 15 min from downtown, but my neighborhood still has kampung vibes. One neighbor even has cows in their backyard. That is an experience I certainly didn’t have growing up in Singapore!  

H: The best thing about living in Portland is the lifestyle and outdoor accessibility. We spend summer days hiking outdoors through old growth Douglas Fir trees and kayaking through pristine waters framed by snow-capped mountains in the distance. Amazingly, a short 25 min drive takes you to organic farms, the Hood River Fruit Loop, and Pinot Noir wine country.

(Left) Endless beautiful summer skies along the Oregon Coast. (Right) Pat enjoying Dungeness Crab at Kelly’s Marina with her daughter.

2. What is your favourite food in Portland?

P: Seafood, specifically Dungeness crab! Oregon’s long coast allows us access to super fresh seafood. Mud crabs back home for Singapore’s Chili Crabs are great, but the cold, clean waters of the Pacific NW creates unparalleled sweet umami flavor in Dungeness crab. In fact, the catalyst to our crazy Sibeiho dreams is because we experimented with Dungeness crab to make Singapore Chili Crab!

H: We’ve adopted the local habits of eating seasonal. Oregon produce is amazing and there’s a different farmer’s market almost every day. There are different types of strawberries and salmon. Hood Strawberries are crazy sweet, and they are only found here, as they bruise easily and do not survive transportation outside of Oregon. Chinook salmon available during the summer season is the king of all salmon species for its highest amount of Omega-3 fats. The melt-in-the-mouth experience of cedar planked Chinook with our Sibeiho Sambal is bar none.

Sibeiho Supperclub’s special feature with local Portland mushrooms.

3. What is the most exciting part of your job?

P: I love my day job but on the weekends with SIBEIHO, I get to connect deeply with memories of my Singapore childhood home. These days, food is so much more than just sustenance. Since I am the parent of kids from two cultures, I see food as an edible heritage that allows us to connect with our Singaporean roots and share it with others in Portland. 

H: Leaving the safety of a corporate job and running a startup is certainly scary, and the odds are stacked against us. But being crazy is sometimes necessary. On a serious note, our combined 20+ years of consumer goods and retail expertise has definitely helped formulate and execute our business plan. We’ve transferred our corporate skills to the highly regulated food production industry and are driven to continuously test and refine our products. I love telling the Singapore story through SIBEIHO.

Sibeiho Supperclub in full swing.

4. What do you miss most about Singapore?

P: Family and the hawker centers, especially Hokkien Mee, Prawn Mee, Fish Ball Noodles, Sambal Sting Ray and my ultimate favourite Bak kut teh at Havelock Road after a night out clubbing. 

H: Definitely family and friends. And of course, our rich hawker culture and local produce, such as Kway Chap, Durians, Teh Tarik, Kopi-O, Kosong Gao, Bee Hoon Goreng Putih, and many more.

Holly (third from left) with her family in Singapore during CNY 2020.

5. Tell us one fun fact about you

P: I get teased about my OCD for wiping down everything with anti-bacterial wipes (these days, it isn’t a bad thing!). I have the last laugh though as the obsession has come in handy when we review food production processes.  

H: I love reading labels, especially food packaging. One of my earliest jobs in retail communications was to write retail shelf descriptions for thousands of products with a strict 200-word count. It’s really hard to cram so much detail in such a small space so it gave me an appreciation for the effort behind food labels.

Pat and Holly re-creating Singapore’s culinary highlights and childhood food memories.

If you drop by Portland, give SIBEIHO a buzz. Pat and Holly are always delighted to meet fellow Singaporeans. If you’re lucky and there’s Kueh in the store, Kopi & Kueh will be on the house if you can tell them your favourite Singlish phrases!

Sibeiho store: 740 NW 23rd Portland, Oregon 97210

Sibeiho email: sibeihosibeiho@gmail.com

Sibeiho Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sibeihosibeiho/

(Photo credits: Mark Lau, Pat Lau, Duane Wee & Holly Ong)

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