Even the most carnivorous of diners will be satisfied by this new Thao Dien spot. By Michael Tatarski. Photos by Jonny Edbrooke.
Much like its namesake, Zombie BBQ has consumed the District 2 villa formerly occupied by McSorley’s. Patrons of the former pub will find that things today look much the same – the pool remains, as does the pool table, along with indoor and al fresco seating. The bar still serves beer, cocktails and liquors. The main difference, however, lies in one corner of the property: a smoker and grill now churn out savoury barbecued treats. Although it is meant to be more permanent, Zombie BBQ’s current setup is something like a pop-up-style restaurant one would find back in the West.
The menu is expectedly meat-centric, with a range of appetisers, salads, sandwiches, steaks and grilled platters available. Prices are reasonable, with appetisers and salads ranging from VND 30,000-80,000, while barbecue platters range up to VND 499,000 for a full rack of ribs. One highlight of the menu is the return of Willie Woo’s fried chicken and waffles (VND 50,000), a crowd-pleaser that disappeared a couple of years ago.
We began with the fried okra coated in homemade cornmeal (VND 45,000), a light, crispy start to a big meal. Next was the Caesar salad with fried pork skins (VND 50,000). Even though meat is obviously the focus here, the salad was nice, with fresh, crisp lettuce accompanied by crunchy pork skin, something I’ve not seen added to a salad before.
We decided to try the vegetarian pulled pork sandwich (VND 89,000) as well, as this was a surprise on the menu. Served on a homemade pretzel roll with coleslaw, the pork is replaced with mi cang (wheat gluten), common in vegetarian Vietnamese dishes. The flavour of the sandwich was excellent, but the meat substitute was a bit chewy for my taste, especially as pulled pork melts in your mouth.
Finally, we came to the plane crash platter (VND 250,000), which includes two ribs, a chicken thigh, sausage, coleslaw and cornbread. The ribs, served with mustard sauce, were fantastic, among the best I’ve had in Saigon. The meat was tender but didn’t fall off the bone when picked up, which is just how I like ribs. The chicken, served with a well-spiced Kansas barbecue sauce, was perfectly cooked and full of flavour, while the sausage made a pleasant pop when it was cut.
Zombie BBQ offers delicious grilled meat from a menu that takes some adventurous detours and is a strong addition to the Thao Dien dining scene. Lunch hours will be added in the near future.