Here’s possibly the best news of the week—and it’s only Monday: Washingtonians could be feasting on steamed pork belly buns and whole chili crab in three to six months. Crain’s New York reports that the New York-based Fatty Crew restaurant group—the folks behind such spots as Fatty Crab, Fatty ’Cue, and Pig & Khao—has teamed up with Le Diplomate restaurateur Stephen Starr on a national expansion of the Southeast Asian eateries. Of the eight new US branches planned, Washington, DC, will be home to the first.
While there’s no word yet on which type of Fatty operation with land in DC—it could be an entirely new concept—each of the restaurants will be “city-specific,” drawing on local ingredients. But I can’t help hoping they resemble the New York spots. I’ve worked my way through curry-slicked crab, spicy lamb ribs, and various combinations of pork and watermelon at all the Fatty locations in Manhattan and St. John, USVI, and find their riffs on Southeast Asian street food addictive, to say the least. I’ve even been known to carry Fatty Crab’s pork buns stuffed with charred jalapeños and pickled radishes home on the train from New York.
The restaurants have that “Asian hipster” vibe of David Chang’s Momofuku empire: heavily tattooed servers, various beers and backs, pork galore. And while Manhattanites may yawn at the trend, it's still on the rise here in Washington. (See Mark Kuller’s forthcoming Doi Moi and Erik Bruner-Yang’s Maketto residency).
This isn’t Starr’s first time at the collaboration rodeo. The Morimoto restaurateur most recently teamed up with Joe Carroll, owner of the original Fette Sau in Brooklyn, to bring a near-replica of the barbecue joint to Philadelphia. Starr floated the idea of opening the smoked-meat operation in Washington, but it looks like we’ll be getting a Fatty first. There’s no word on where it’ll land; the team is apparently still looking for a preexisting restaurant space to take over for a swift debut. Stay tuned for more details.