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Si Baby Q.jpg : Mackenzie Smith Kelley
The Sí Baby-Q team, from left to right: Jonathan Lagos, Simone Tong and Matt Hyland

Sí Baby-Q food truck opens in Austin, serving Texas barbecue through a South Asian lens

The new concept is a collaboration between the team behind Zoé Tong and local pitmaster Jonathan Lagos.

While Texas barbecue is a longstanding culinary tradition, over the past decade, new barbecue concepts have brought outside perspective to the classic cuisine, like Blood Bros. outside of Houston where traditional smoked meats are made with Asian and Cajun accents; Smoke’N Ash BBQ, a Texas-meets-Ethiopia concept in Arlington; and KG BBQ in Austin, which infuses its food with Middle Eastern flavors. 

The latest “new wave” barbecue concept is Sí Baby-Q: a food truck and sprawling patio that opened May 4 in Austin. The colorful truck is a collaboration between chef Simone Tong and her husband and culinary partner Matt Hyland, who also run the adjacent modern Chinese restaurant Zoé Tong, and pitmaster Jonathan Lagos, a veteran of Terry Black’s BBQ. Customers order from the truck, then bring their trays to awaiting tables on the 125-seat patio. 

Tong and Hyland describe running a truck like, “opening and closing a new restaurant each day. We have to cook everything and transfer it inside the truck in the morning, remove all the food after closing, and deep clean every day.” They think of the truck like a puzzle, ensuring they fit all the pieces into all the right spots. “Food trucks are very fast paced, so working quick and clean can be a challenge in a tiny space,” they said.

Mackenzie Smith Kelley1. Si Baby-Q.jpg

A spread of dishes at Sí Baby-Q

The Sí Baby-Q menu highlights flavor profiles from Tong’s Singaporean upbringing, as seen in fusion dishes like mala-spiced (Sichuan spice blend) pulled lamb shoulder, brisket and pork spare ribs rubbed with Indonesian long pepper and house spices, and SXSE smoked chicken, which features a chicken leg with butterworth curry, rice, coconut and ikan bilis (a type of dried anchovy).

Sandwiches include a brisket sandwich on a pretzel bun, the Hot Duvet (sausage with pickled onions on roti), and a lamb gyro. Sides are more creative than most, with options like queso y pepe (egg noodles with queso and long peppercorn), seasonal greens with five-spice tofu and shallot chips, and smoked kimchi. A selection of beers, seltzers, canned wines and sakes are also available.

Lagos believes that Central Texas-style barbecue marries perfectly with South Asian flavors because of its robust and smoky profile. He uses post oak to smoke the Sí Baby-Q’s food, noting that it produces a milder smoke compared to other woods.

“The heavier the smoke, the less you will be able to taste the spices on the meats,” Lagos said. “South Asian cuisine has bold and vibrant spices that deserve to be complemented and not overpowered by a heavy smoke flavor.” 

He added that post oak enhances the complexity of certain elements, like spicy curry and tangy tamarind, to highlight the best of both culinary traditions. 

The Si Baby-Q team said they love the idea of opening more concepts together but are in no rush to do so. When the time is right, they’ll look into spaces and start planning what’s next.

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