Low and slow soul food
Why can’t American food ever get a fair shake? Or a decent milkshake?
Where junk food and burger uniformity prevails, brought to us from corporate franchising headquarters, Bangkok has finally got a dose of the real thing—in this case, the city’s most luscious Southern barbecue, arrived with the Garbers via Chengdu from Milwaukee and Chicago, with a bit of inspiration from Lockhart, Texas. For months, the Smokin’ Pug, a somewhat cramped bar shoehorned into an exposed brick space on the fringes of Patpong, has been the talk of foodies and off-duty chefs—a place where smoked meats are done just right, slow-cooked for numerous hours on a Thai rooftop, where the attention to detail extends to the sauces made from scratch, the coleslaw, and sweet potato fries, and where Bose-amplified blues music accompanies every plate with an added dose of funky authenticity.
Humble as it may be, the Smokin’ Pug isn’t afraid to go up against the biggest chains in presenting the staples of carnivorous American cookery. The chicken wings (B250), peppery and moist, put most Buffalo-style versions to shame, and deserve to be on a platter rather than stuffed in a bucket. The ribs, in half (worth the B575) or humongous full slabs (B825), bear plenty of pork flesh and are just softened enough to gnaw at while retaining full flavour. The pulled pork can be a tad greasy, but is more than amply boosted by the superbly charred yet not a bit dry beef brisket—a true Texas revelation, ready to soak in a full squeeze of the Pug’s three well-balanced barbecue toppings (including a hot ginger blend that makes for a nice homage to Asia). On the generous plate of sliders (B395), the third entry is a perfectly battered chicken breast smothered in tart, cheesy herb butter. For the bored or the Tex-Mex addicted, all forms of meat can be used to top nachos, stuff tacos, or quesadillas, as well. While the cornbread is disappointing, even the baked beans here are homemade and lusciously smoky. And, naturally, the place boasts one of the most meticulous draft beer selections in town, mostly Belgian and Japanese.
For homesick Americans and star-struck foreign fans alike, here one bite can instantly transport you from Bangkok to an open campfire on the Rio Grande, and the bittersweet music seems to blend perfectly with all forms of tangy survival. As the Smokin’ Pug proves so effortlessly, there’s a lot more to finger-lickin’ than the Colonel, a lot more to hard livin’ than the Hard Rock. By John Krich
The Smokin’ Pug
88 Surawong Rd | 08 3029 7598 | facebook.com/smokinpug | Tues-Sun 5pm-midnight