Sunday, March 6, 2011


I stopped by Fette Sau in Billyburg last night, but the long line and lack of seating pointed me elsewhere. But when you're in the mood for 'cue, you're in the mood for 'cue, so to South Williamsburg we ventured, miraculously snagging a vacant table at Fatty 'Cue in under ten minutes.

The spot, in aesthetic and execution, isn't so different from Zak Pelaccio's Fatty Crabs, which is to say that the food is spicy, sweet, salty, textured and, above all else, full of fat. The best exemplar of "fat is flavor" comes across in the Dragon Pullman Toast with Master Fat. What is it? Slices of that well-known and pillow-soft bread with grill marks and a salt crust, served with a side of fat drippings from the barbecue. It's like eating the deckle of a rib-eye on toast, if that deckle had been rendered into a dippable liquid. Not half bad, I say.

We ate lamb ribs, off the bone and crisp, with a mackerel aioli, which sounds gross but isn't. Two mammoth pork ribs came with a palm sugar glaze that's stickier, sweeter, and more appealing than the best Texas red sauce. Pork bone broth is basically a rich consomme with sliced crunchy celery. In the context of all this meat, it almost reads like health food. So, too, do the habit-forming black eyed peas, served with the traditional addition of burnt ends and the not-so-traditional slickening of yellow curry. Grilled bacon, leaning towards the fatty, comes with a curry mustard and toast points, a modern take on charcuterie that doesn't feel too haute or out of place.

I would have ordered the crab for a shareable entree, but one of our party members is allergic, so we settled on brisket instead, which didn't disappoint. Fatty 'Cue serves the lean, pink slices alongside the dense, fatty ones. The brisket comes with mayonnaise, chili sauce, steamed buns (Peking duck style), cilantro, pickled red onions, and a bone broth for dipping. It's a rendering of make-your-own pork buns, or a French dip. And it's really, really good. Cutting all that fat with sugar and acid (found everywhere in accompanying sauces and in the vinegar and fish sauce container left on the table for each party's personal use) works so well, one wonders why Malaysian barbecue isn't already a "thing" in the city.

Then again, these treats are probably best enjoyed in moderation.

Fatty 'Cue
91 South 6th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

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