American-style barbecue meets Vietnam-style dining at this soon-to-be legendary restaurant. By Chris Mueller. Photos by Brett Davis.
What happens when an Aussie, an American and a Frenchman open a barbecue restaurant aimed at the Vietnamese market in Saigon? You get one of the coolest places to eat in the city. And that’s just what happened in March when Quan Ut Ut (which translates to Restaurant Oink Oink) opened along the Ben Nghe canal separating Districts 1 and 4.
The big wooden tables and benches are reminiscent of an open-air quan. But make no mistake, this place is all about the meat. If the smoker and grill outside aren’t a clear enough sign of what you’re in for, then the giant spatula-wielding pig plastered on the side of the wall will tell you exactly what Ut Ut is all about. The American head chef slow smokes slabs of imported pork ribs (VND 300,000 for a half-rack with two sides) over cashew wood before adding a little sugarcane to the fire, giving the perfect balance between sweet and smoky.
On the grill he cooks up some barbecue favourites, such as the spicy Italian pork sausage (VND 250,000) and different versions of hamburgers. We tried the bacon bacon burger (VND 160,000) which is a patty topped with a heaping pile of their homemade bacon, crispy onion, barbecue sauce, ranch dressing and cheese. This burger is a serious contender for the best in the city.
Vietnamese are no strangers to grilled meat, but American-style barbecue is still a foreign concept to many. So in a bid to attract the local crowd, the restaurant has a respectable list of more affordable beer snacks, like the shitake bombs (VND 50,000), crumbed and fried mushrooms, for example.
While the food here is incredible, you can’t have good barbecue without good beer. And Quan Ut Ut has set the bar high in this department, too. Right now they are brewing their own small batches of India pale ale (VND 60,000/glass), but the supply is extremely limited. Starting this month they are also offering Platinum Pale Ale (VND 40,000/bottle), a micro-brew made by an Australian in Saigon. They also have a few hard-to-find American beers on offer, such as Kona from Hawaii and Blue Moon.
With great food for great value, an impressive beer selection and an awesome location, there is no question that Quan Ut Ut will become a Saigon institution.