Brooklyn’s Fatty ’Cue: Malaysian BBQ

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It was a Saturday afternoon and I was settling into my usual routine of avoiding the masses of people that take over the city every weekend. I could get some work done. Or drink half a bottle of wine and watch Saturday Night Live. One never knows. Then Gabi, Time Out New York‘s Eat Out editor, called. Back when I was working at Travel + Leisure, we had met at Le Cirque during some kind of promotional dinner that you jump at when you’re young and broke, the so-called “perks of the job” that we rationalized as compensation for our meager salaries. We had kept in touch and been playing phone tag during my stay. She wanted to go to Brooklyn. In 20 minutes. I ran a comb through my hair and happily accepted.

I won’t lie. I love eating at the “geriatric hour.” There’s nothing comfortable about the aftermath of eating a massive meal at 10 at night (sorry, Spaniards); plus, I can avoid the chaos of late-night jostling for a table. Gabi, in geriatric agreement–or more to the point, starving from not eating all day–gave me the choice between Fatty ‘Cue, a long-awaited Malaysian-influenced barbecue joint, and Pies-N-Thighs, specializing in Southern/soul food, both in Williamsburg. I had been jonesing for barbecue lately so the choice was made.

Turns out Fatty ‘Cue’s website was erroneous and we arrived a half-hour too early for the dinner hour. We grabbed an espresso at Marlow & Sons around the corner.



Upon our prompt arrival at 5:05pm, we ran into Fatty ‘Cue’s Robbie Richter, the pitmaster and a friendly acquaintance of Gabi. Her cover was blown; the food would come out in droves now. Robbie sat down with us to dissect the menu and hand-pick the dishes for us. He coaxed us with racks of ribs just out of the smoker.


First up, a smoked eggplant dip served with chicharrónes, bok choy, green beans, radishes, and grilled garlic. Very satisfying but at this rate we would be full soon. (Note to self: Eat the chicharrónes immediately or be reminded of what you’re really eating when the crispiness wears off.) I had another sip of my Stone Julep (apricot/
peach/nectarine infused bourbon with–really?–Vietnamese mint) to shake it off.

Next, red curry rubbed duck [pictured at top]. I like duck but I’m not one to order it regularly. These blew me away; my favorite ribs of the night. Flavorful with just the right amount of fatty goodness, served with refreshing sweet pickled daikon and a red curry sauce.


The lamb ribs, brined with cincalok (fermented shrimp) and white wine, and served with a garlic-lemon emulsion, were good, but didn’t measure up to the duck.


The pork spare ribs with smoked fish/palm syrup and Indonesian long pepper were probably the least inspired.


And in case we hadn’t had enough, Robbie brought out the motherload, known as Master Fat, or the culmination of drippings from all the meats, as a dipping sauce with steamed buns. We tried it. And then we opted to live past 50.

We did mitigate the meat fest with some vegetables [you can see a glimpse of them in the lamb rib shot]–cucumbers in smoked chili, brown rice vinegar, and toasted sesame seeds; celery salad with yuzu, lovage, and sesame oil–but, while refreshing, they were a bit of a kitchen afterthought.


For dessert, we ordered one of the prized Fatty Bars, or chocolate bars made by the mother of one of the cooks. Ours had milk chocolate, ginger, and both puffed and crisped rice. We also ordered a slice of s’mores pie and were a little confused as to why marshmallow needed a serving of straight heavy cream over the top of it. Okay, now we’re lucky if we live to 45.

Afterward, we needed to walk and took a stroll down Bedford Avenue to say hello to all the hipsters in their 80’s glasses and faux nonchalance. We popped into Bedford Cheese Shop for a last gluttonous look and then headed home.

Note the bird's nest!

Note the bird's nest!


Other NYC restaurant reviews:
Minetta Tavern: I Don’t Get It
Colicchio & Sons: What’s New Is Old
Eleven Madison Park: French Laundry Wanna-Be
Peter Luger v. Strip House: The Steak-Off
Motorino v. Kesté: Neapolitan Pizza Pie-Off
Locanda Verde: Swing and a Miss
Maialino: Danny Meyer Does It Again
Marea: Do Your Homework
Great Jones Cafe: Best Wings In The City
Apiary: Hidden Gem
Seäsonal Restaurant & Weinbar: Who Knew?
La Esquina: VIP Mexican Food?

May. 18 2010 |
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