For the meat lovers of Saigon, there could only be one thing better than Quan Ut Ut: more Quan Ut Ut. Simon Stanley checks out the popular barbecue joint’s new canal-side pop-up in Binh Thanh District. Photos by QUU.
As 2015 drew to a close, a new resident quietly snuck into the several-mile-long row of restaurants and cafes that is Truong Sa, that fabulous, winding strip of tarmac running alongside the Thi Nghi canal on the Binh Thanh side.
Formed largely from repurposed shipping containers, steel girders and industrial features, with a vast open-air dining space at its heart, Quan Ut Ut’s second restaurant is far from being the awkward sequel some may be expecting. “Is it as good as the original?” people have been asking. The answer is, yes. Oh yes.
Offering breezy views of the canal and District 1’s glittering broadcast tower (when lit) on the opposite bank, its kerb-side bar is enough to win over many diehard fans of the original. With a range of local craft beers on tap and in bottles, it’s the best alternative to BiaCraft for those of us on the ‘wrong’ side of the Saigon River. This one has over a dozen bar snacks too, ranging from fresh Nha Trang oysters (VND150,000 for six) to Buffalo wings (VND80,000) and panko crusted mozzarella (VND70,000).
Space-wise, Ut Ut 2.0 is a winner. Strung with a ceiling of fairy lights (and retractable rain covers for when that inevitable day arrives), the two-floor al fresco layout feels a lot cooler and more spacious than its older brother. The menu is the same at both locations. For the uninitiated, the cashew-smoked pork ribs are a must at VND550,000 for a full rack, VND300,000 for a half. In all honesty, everything on the menu is standout – you cannot go wrong. The giant, tractor-sized smoker at the back of the room is the first scratch of proof of Ut Ut’s authentic ‘low ’n’ slow’ cooking style; the OMFG tenderness of the meat is the second.