The once delivery-only barbecue joint has just opened its first restaurant and if TnT BBQ wasn’t on your radar before, it will be now. By Lorcan Lovett. Photos by Vinh Dao.
Sometimes beef brisket comes along and sweeps you off your feet.
For me, it was hickory-smoked, tender, and succulent, leaving my mouth enamoured, wondering when it would taste the likes of this again.
Meat hasn’t been the same since, and I doubt it ever will – at least not until my next visit to TnT BBQ.
Slotted in a small street off Ly Tu Trong, the unassuming grill house has been nearly three years in the making.
Californian Mark Ton and Oklahoman Logan Tisdale began experimenting at smoking meats in early 2013 which led to a popular delivery service initially offering ribs, chicken and pulled pork.
Turkey and brisket came next, and they’ve a few more additions planned for the future, however the takeaway barbecue wasn’t capturing that smoky intensity of an eat-in hence the launch of the restaurant three months ago.
Inside, the menu’s scrawled on a large blackboard that surrounds the counter, behind which is an open grill where the meaty magic happens.
Pasteur Street’s Jasmine IPA (VND 95,000) and Tiger (VND 35,000) are on tap near the entrance and ahead is a long, brick-walled room brandishing vintage art of pinup girls wafting barbecues with their dresses.
It’s aesthetically warming; a slice of the States, but perhaps the main pull is the saliva-inducing aromas whirling from the US-imported beef and poultry.
The boys don’t mess about when it comes to preparation, they cook ‘low and slow’ and with a loving attentiveness that seeps from the flavour.
Take the previously mentioned brisket (VND 172,000/200 grams) for example: marinated for at least six hours, rubbed down with spices, smoked and then finished in TnT’s ‘secret’ original sauce, the whole affair taking over 20 hours.
US imported apple-wood smokes the dynamite chicken drumstick (VND 60,000) that’s then coated with TnT’s delectable dynamite sauce which has hints of Teriyaki and Jack Daniels, sweet and spicy.
As is the tendency here, the Memphis-style pork ribs (VND 214,000/400 grams) are attentively marinated, smoked, grilled and coated before they land on the plate, tempting the eater to lick their fingers to the bone.
All sides are neatly priced at VND 40,000 for a regular portion and VND 120,000 for a jumbo serving. Of these, the cornbread with honey and butter dipping sauce and separately the sweet baked beans with sautéed onions and bacon are must-tries.
For a quick fix, go for the pulled pork sandwich (VND 100,000) topped with a dollop of coleslaw, or the turkey breast (VND 157,000/200 grams), an often-shunned meat outside the States but glorified here in a buttery sweet sauce.
No one will walk out of TnT’s door hungry but there’ll be plenty walking in now that the team’s dishes have stirred up Saigon’s barbecue game.