Earlier this year, I was seated opposite Zak Pellacio as he devoured chicken wings, bak kut teh and any kind of slicked, oily noodles he can get his hands on. A self-confessed Malaysia-phile when it comes to food, ever so often he needs to come back to Malaysia, eat with abandon and find more inspiration for his restaurants.
Ribs brined in cencalok, smoked with oakwood...
91, South 6th Street,
Brooklyn NY, 11211
Tel: +1(718)599 3090
A terrific tribute to Malaysia's wonderful and funky flavours...
No near subways, you'll just have to cab it or leg it...
The latest New York based Zak Pelaccio's homage to all things funky, fishy and pungent is Fatty 'Cue, southern-style barbeque that gets down and dirty with spices and ingredients our side of the border. The restaurant itself is no frills but packed even for 6pm. Cocktails on the menu are not shy on flavour either using chilli infused mixers and leaves like Vietnamese mint and Thai basil.
Menu-wise it is undeniable that Zak loves his succulent pigs- it's porcine heavy but that doesn't mean the rest of his meats like brisket, duck and chicken or seafood (think grilled mackerel and a crab-meat laksa) suffer for it.
The Legend is a mixed plate of delicious fatty pig parts including ribs and belly- crisp and succulent with smoke enforcing the brines and rubs with blow-your-mind flavour. It comes with a side of soft bau's so you can sop up the juices, oils and the dipping sauces that come with it.
The wahyu brisket, which is my personal favourite are tender chunks and slivers of meat with more of those sinful white buns with a side of chilli jam, aioli and red onions (almost like the fushia kind that you put on a murtabak). You can eat the brisket on its own or make make-shift sandwiches. This is worth coming here for.
The duck and chicken are both note-worthy as is the mackerel. The crab laksa is a sweet-briny broth with mushrooms- I could use a little more sourness. My fellow diners however lapped it up. Though the barbecue here is undeniably delicious, Cue like any good member of the Fatty family excels in the snacks and starters.
The nasi ulam (though it resembles more like a nasi goreng kampung with crispy ikan bilis within) is addictive. It's a little herby but not overpowering and just goes so well with the wealth of chilli-fied condiments. Another, which is just called Bowl of Noodles is also ridiculously good. It harkens a little of those cold Korean noodles with a pungent chilli mix. What makes it classic Fatty is the fact that it's also mixed with all those lovely meat-drippings and topped with fresh scallions. Yummers.
Other lovely things are like the Manila clams, a heaping bowl of clams with curry leaves and bone broth. It kills as do the hand-pulled lamb shoulder given a Mediterranean twist with goat yogurt and then twisted back again when you eat it within a soft pita and Vietnamese mint. Even the simple Cucumbers, I like. The cucumbers are chilli spiced then mixed in brown vinegar and sesame, an oriental take on our own jelatah. And after all the indulgence of meats, I found this terribly refreshing.
Ealier in the week, we were at the Saveur barbecue, where Zak and his talented Chef de Cuisine Andrea Pressler rustled up tender lamb ribs with a fragrant barky skin. The lamb ribs are fatty-tender and brined in cencalok. Then they are seared in oil first before left on hot smoky coals. A funky aioli on the side and you're good to go.
We took a peek at pitmaster Robbie Ricther at the back on the day we ate at Fatty 'Cue where two large smokers, opened to reveal its smoky interior and racks of meats roving lazily. He's proud of his smoke and rightly so, mostly oakwood from upstate New York aged for a year. This he controls and coaxes to infuse flavour into chunks and hunks of meat. I even saw whole lamb heads rotating in the smoker! These guys have their own following, they even have a film on them during the NYC Food Film Festival. Fatty 'Cue
I suppose I've gushed enough so here are my conclusions. For those of you who love barbecue- come here for a refreshing, spicy take on it. The funk in their flavours really spunks up what you already love about smoked meats. For New York Malaysians craving some home flavour, come over too. It's just fascinating to jolt in surprise at the all too familliar taste of belacan and kicap kipas udang in this utterly hip Brooklyn eaterie. Afterall, in their own words- it's a mash-up of two wonderful worlds. 'Cue has something for everyone (just like our food) well except if you are hard-core vegetarian in which case there are always the cocktails...