Renowned for its Thanh Oai smoked pork ribs, this smokehouse is said to be a meat lovers’ dream. Our Mystery Diner investigates. Photos by Sasha Arefieva

 

The Fat Pig lives towards the northern end of Quang An Street in Tay Ho and overlooks the waters of West Lake. We went on a Wednesday evening for ‘Crafty Wednesdays’ — live music, a rib special (VND30,000 per rib) and craft beer draught specials but to our disappointment, the special was not running that day.

 

The restaurant is on the second floor and has an outside area with a bar, and an inside section which allows customers to see into the kitchen. With good music and views, the outside area is where it’s at. We had not booked a table (we were eight people) so we had to sit around a small table inside while we waited for an outside table.

 

Our waiter handled everything with plenty of composure; he was patient when we could not decide what to drink, he organised an outside table for us as soon as he could and he tried his absolute best to tend to our every need. In other words, the service was great.

Retro

 

The bar stocks wine, spirits, a wide range of top-notch whiskys and three craft beers: Pasteur Street, Platinum and Barret. I tried the Jasmine IPA draught from Pasteur Street (VND95,000). It was light, carried subtle flavours and made me forget about the rib special disappointment.

 

Once seated outside, we really started to enjoy ourselves. The Fat Pig has a retro feel to it with exposed brick walls painted in white, blackboards displaying parts of the menu in white chalk and loads of greenery that add life to the décor. In the background, Kings of Leon and Red Hot Chilli Peppers interspersed with some rhythm and blues created a festive feel.

 

For starters we tried the Fat Pig nachos (VND155,000) which had an interesting BBQ flavour. I prefer traditional nachos flavours but others may enjoy this spinoff. We also tried the cornbread (VND55,000) and it was a hit at our table — sweet, slightly crispy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. We couldn’t get enough and ordered three more sides of cornbread after the first dish was done.

 

We decided to share mains because we were such a big group. Myself and three others had the BBQ Plate for four (VND1,100,000) which comes with Hoa Binh pulled pork shoulder, Soc Son organic chicken, Cao Bang sausage and Thanh Oai smoked pork ribs (a serving of each of the available meats on the menu). This platter also comes with a choice of four sides. We chose the spicy potato and kimchi salad (VND45,000), smoked mac n’ cheese, spring onion and Parmesan (VND60,000), dirty fries with wild boar, cheddar and spring onion (VND85,000) and Fat Pig fried rice with wild boar (VND75,000). Even when shared among four people, this was a lot of food.

 

Shredded Meat

 

The ribs were disappointing; dry and lacking in both flavour and meat. It might only have been our serving though because the other four at our table ordered ribs too and they loved theirs. The chicken was perfectly cooked, moist and tender, and crisped on the outside. The sausage, like the nachos, had an unfamiliar BBQ flavour which I didn’t enjoy. Of all the dishes on the BBQ Plate, the pulled pork shoulder was the highlight. It was full of flavour, delicately shredded and complemented each of the sides. I dreamt about the pork that night.

 

The sides were okay. I enjoyed the smoked mac ‘n cheese the most — it also contained untraditional BBQ flavours which this time I enjoyed and the large shavings of Parmesan were a real treat.

 

When it comes to meat, I tend to be critical because I come from a country where meat is a substantial part of the diet. I’d still recommend The Fat Pig, especially to meat lovers. The meat is organic, locally sourced and the best I’ve had in Hanoi so far. Add to that the combination of great service, fresh craft beer, good music and, of course, corn bread and you’re in for a meaty experience.


 

The Verdict

 

Food: 12

 

Service: 12

 

Décor: 14

 

Food, Decor and Service are each rated on a scale of 0 to 15.

 

13 — 15 extraordinary to perfection

10 — 12.5 very good to excellent

8 — 9.5 good to very good

5 — 7.5 fair to good

0 — 4.5 poor to fair

 

The Word reviews anonymously and pays for all meals

The Word

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