Bibi Ji, a new wine bar, bottle shop and all-day restaurant from Rajat Parr and acclaimed chef Jessi Singh, opened on February 1st at 734 State Street, the former home of Relais de Paris. Singh, who’s been lauded for his Indian cooking at the popular Babu Ji restaurant in San Francisco, New York City and Melbourne, will serve a locally inspired seafood-focused menu with Australian and Indian influences, while the wine selection from James Beard Award-winning sommelier Rajat Parr features a dynamic and eccentric variety of uniquely affordable bottles designed to pair well with the food. The name Bibi Ji – an Indian term of endearment for women in the family – pays tribute to the formative women in both Jessi and Rajat’s lives who cultivated their love for food and hospitality. Both Jessi and Rajat are now living in Santa Barbara, and will be donating a portion of proceeds from Bibi Ji to support the Santa Barbara Firefighters Alliance.
Drawing from his Australian and Indian roots, chef Jessi’s menu features his inauthentic take on many traditional American seafood dishes, with a strong focus on using local Santa Barbara purveyors. With the Santa Barbara Farmers Market just steps away from Bibi Ji, Jessi is sourcing nearly all of his ingredients there, and will be changing his menu regularly depending on what’s available in the market that week. The restaurant is partnering with fish monger Stephanie Mutz to source local oysters (served on the menu with green mango pickle butter) and sea urchin, which appears in the SB UNI biryani dish, served with fried rice. Additional dish highlights include Hope Ranch black mussels in a curry broth, Tandoori style octopus with a fennel slaw and Jumbo prawn with pineapple and jalapeño jam, as well as “Inauthentic Curries” such as Bibi Ji daal (ginger, garlic and tomatoes) and Coconut curry with turmeric and mustard seeds, served with the option of pink shrimp or vegetable, among others. The menu also features dishes that Babu Ji became known for at its locations in NYC and San Francisco such as the famed Colonel Tso’s cauliflower, Indo-Chinese style cauliflower in a tomato & chili sauce, and Gol gappa, tangy crispy stuffed shells. California cheesemaker Soyoung Scanlan of Andante Dairy is creating a rotating cheese plate that will be on the menu all day.
Bibi Ji is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, Bibi Ji will serve a happy hour menu with wines offered for $6 a glass and a special food menu, before transitioning to dinner service starting at 5pm. For more information, visit bibijisb.com and follow them on instagram @bibijisb.