As a westerner in Ho Chi Minh City it’s fairly easy to satisfy most food cravings: pizza, tacos, fish and chips, Sunday roast — you can even get late night McDonald’s. One cuisine that is lacking, though, is good ol’ fashioned American barbecue. Vietnam is fairly expert in grilled meats, but a rack of ribs smothered in barbecue sauce and accompanied by disgustingly unhealthy sides? That’s another beast entirely.


Enter Quan Ut Ut — otherwise known as Restaurant Oink Oink. Opened in late March on Vo Van Kiet near the Ong Lanh Bridge, this American BBQ spot is dishing out everything from tender pork shoulder to classic sides like corn bread, creamed spinach, and mac and cheese.

 

Ut Ut is hard to miss, and if the crowds of people sitting outdoors don’t grab your attention, the huge spatula-wielding pig mascot out front certainly will. Patrons sit on wooden picnic tables and chairs, a mix between classic Americana and Vietnamese street style.

 

Start it Up

 

 

Starters are a definite must, specifically the Kickin’ Chicken Skin, which is as fried, crunchy and golden as their menu suggests, and the Memphis Bourbon Oyster Shooter, a good option to get the party started. Skip others like the breaded shiitake mushroom bombs — while good, your appetite should be saved for the more mouth-watering options to follow.

 

Once the first course is finished, go straight for the barbecue. Meats such as crispy pork belly, spicy Italian sausage, and southern fried chicken are prepared on numerous outdoor smokers and grills. Be warned: barbecue options are portioned to serve one or two people, so if you’re hungry you may not want to share.

 

It’s hard to go wrong with the barbecue selection, but the best is easily their half-rack cashew-smoked ribs (VND300,000). With a nice, dark, slightly crispy skin on top, the meats falls easily off the bone with a gentle tug of a finger or fork. Make sure to add a little homemade Ut Ut sauce to get that extra flavour.

 

From their Facebook page: “Thick and delicious cashew smoke kisses the ribs and imparts their subtle seductiveness and complexity. When the ribs hit your tongue, you should taste a rainbow of different notes — like when drinking a good wine — popping up and then fading away.”

 

Wash it Down

 

 

No barbecue experience is complete without beer, and luckily Ut Ut has plenty of options. This month they’ll (hopefully) start serving a draught Platinum Pale Ale (VND40,000/glass) made by an Australian brewery new to Vietnam. Their beer list also includes some hard-to-find American favourites such as Pacifico, Blue Moon and Kona, although availability is on-and-off due to importation.

 

If beer doesn’t quite quench your thirst, go for the bottomless iced tea — and we’re not talking about tra da. This is southern-style sweet iced tea, and a bottomless glass is only VND25,000. Flavours such as strawberry, raspberry and blueberry are changed daily, but let’s be honest, you’ll probably get a chance to try them all.

 

After all, Quan Ut Ut always leaves you coming back for more. — Margaret Smith

 

Quan Ut Ut is at 168 Vo Van Kiet, Q1, or at quanutut.com

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