Originally posted on July 14, 2015
After the closing of the Kinjo brothers’ Nam on Monroe, intown Atlantans had to make the drive to Buford Highway to find their Vietnamese favorites. Despite those restaurants offering an authentic experience, they often fall short in the ambiance and service departments, and in many cases serve no alcohol.
Now Guy Wong, owner of Miso Izakaya, has opened Le Fat, his much-anticipated spot on the Westside, delivering a concise menu of Vietnamese classics in a refined setting reminiscent of a French cafe. Weathered wooden tables, lacquered to a high gloss, are matched with bentwood cafe chairs while vibrant orange banquettes with wooden slat backs line the walls, decorated with French posters, and vintage black and white photos. Handpainted flowers in shades of pink and white adorn the muted green walls in the bar, packed with young, well-heeled locals.
Unlike some of its Buford Highway counterparts, Le Fat not only serves alcohol, it offers a menu of signature cocktails that utilize Asian flavors like mint and ginger, designed to pair perfectly with the somewhat spicy dishes. I ordered an El Diablo while LC tried their Moscow Mule even though it wasn’t served in a copper mug.
We started with an order of summer rolls containing all the usual ingredients but they were clearly made with aesthetics in mind. The shrimp were placed on the rice paper wrapper first, followed by basil, bean sprouts, pork, and rice vermicelli. This method allowed the shrimp to show through the sheer wrapper when rolled. Pretty, for a summer roll.
Although I have eaten pho many times, it has always been on Buford Highway or in New York City with no other round eyes in sight. It was authentic. Le Fat offers only one variety of pho with meatballs, thinly sliced flank steak and brisket. I was excited when our server delivered the platter of fresh cilantro, basil, bean sprouts, jalapenos and sauces. Sadly, the beef was fully cooked when the steaming bowl arrived at our table. Nevertheless, the intense aroma and rich flavor of the oxtail broth left no doubt its preparation was authentic.
Although there are a few curiosities on the menu like the already-popular Softshell BLT Bun, Wong doesn’t attempt to introduce guests to unusual Vietnamese dishes, but rather relies on recognizable favorites like Shaking Beef, Spicy Chili Prawns, and Claypot Chicken. LC and I chose the latter, a simple preparation of cut up bone-in chicken and onions cooked with hoisin sauce, fish sauce, and garlic. The clay pot essentially steams the meat, keeping it moist and tender.
For dessert we chose the Jade Brulee, a perfect melding of classic French creme brulee with the Asian flavor of matcha, or green tea powder. It was lovely. However, it didn’t stop LC from visiting the bakery counter on our way out. He got a poppyseed white chocolate cookie, a chocolate croissant for me, and a little bag of crispy beignet bites (the French equivalent to doughnut holes) that disappeared before we got the car from valet.
We enjoyed everything we tried at Le Fat, but it’s hard to discern the subtle differences in ingredient quality that account for the higher prices than his Buford Highway counterparts charge, according to Wong. Personally, I think the stellar service and elegant space are worth a few more dollars.
The next morning, that flaky chocolate croissant was quite a treat.
935 Marietta Street NW 404-439-9850